Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Beginning Of Who I Am Is Rooted In Incest

I am not the incest and it has helped to define who I am. A friend on Twitter recently told me that the abusers didn't steal the real me. Here are the Tweets that I sent back to him. I wanted to share this message with my readers.

For awhile, yes, they did steal me. The me you see today is not who I might have been without the abuse.

I could have been a better or a worse version of who I am today but either one would have been a different me.

Who I am today is because of my struggles with incest and my healing from incest. A person I am proud to be today.

Some of my choices when I was still struggling were not beneficial to me or my family.

I do love me today. For many years, because of the incest, I hated myself.

When I started healing at age 38, I didn't know who I was and didn't know what I wanted or needed.

Nothing changed until I started to love myself.

I love some of the conversations that get started on Twitter.  When I first started on Twitter, I didn't know how useful it would be for reaching out to other incest survivors but a friend suggested I give it a try. I am glad that she did. I have met so many survivors on Twitter. I still use my Facebook page but I use Twitter more.  Some of the survivors that I have met are still full of rage and the pain of their childhoods. Others have done healing of their issues and are experiencing joy and peace in their lives and, like me, are reaching out to other survivors. Either way, I can and do tell them that they are worth the work of healing.

I made the words of my last Tweet above in bold letters because I want to acknowledge that Nothing changed until I started to love myself. I will keep telling you over and over again here and on Twitter that loving yourself is the most important gift you can ever give yourself. Loving yourself is the key to opening the door of healing and you are worth it.

Feel free to comment on any or all of my above Tweets. I look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

40 Years Married To The Same Man Is Commitment

My husband Daniel and I are celebrating our 40th Wedding Anniversary today. Forty years married to the same man is commitment, love, compromise, and honesty. Our marriage of that long has also been filled with anger, fear, struggles and sometimes denial of feelings.

Our marriage has seen good years and some bad years. The bad years were among the first 25 when I was either in denial or was angry and sometimes raging because of the lasting effects of incest upon me and my interactions with others.

The first ten years, I was trying to control everything because of my fear of being out of control or under someone else's control like my dad when the incest was happening. I didn't trust Daniel to be able to keep me safe. When I was 27, I hit bottom emotionally when I heard myself screaming at Daniel that I hated him and everything about my life. I heard myself screaming those hateful words and I knew they weren't true. The reality that I faced that day was that I hated myself - the abused and terrified little girl inside of me who thought if she could control everything and everyone then she would never be hurt again. I hated and blamed that little girl for the incest. I hated myself. Somewhere the wisdom came that said that Daniel had nothing to do with me being so unhappy, so angry and so bitter.

I knew that I had to change me if I had any chance of being happy. I still had no idea what healthy was. I knew that trying to change Daniel would not help the situation. In a marriage, or any kind of relationship, you cannot change the other person to make you happy. My happiness came from inside me, not from Daniel. Daniel could do nothing to make me happy.

I wish I could say that I woke up to everything that day but I didn't. I struggled with who I was and what was normal. I didn't know for many years to come that what was normal was rarely healthy. Instead I decided to work on myself which means that I read the three books on incest that the Tyler, Texas library had at the time. I also decided to not have any contact with my dad or his side of the family hoping that would bring me some peace. I was still in denial trying to be okay when I wasn't. Having no contact with my dad's family of origin lasted for ten years and stopped when I realized that they weren't my dad and they shouldn't be punished for what he did. I missed my aunts and uncles and grandmother being in my life.

As I searched for peace, I stuffed emotions until they would come spewing out with the force of a volcano in either tears late at night when no one but my husband could see or rage that hurt those closest to me, mostly Daniel. I couldn't control the feelings so the stuffing and exploding went on for years. Those were the bad years. I missed a lot because I was so focused on trying to not feel the pain of incest. Those years were filled with denial that the incest happened and was a part of my life even though I no longer lived at home with my dad. I didn't leave the incest behind just because my dad was out of my life. I couldn't wish it so no matter how much I tried. Denial just builds more hurt on top of the original.

Wow! I didn't know that I was going to tell you all of that. I don't want you to think that all of our 40 years were bad because they weren't. Daniel and I have had good years too. In the 1970's we moved from Shreveport, Louisiana to Asheville, North Carolina when our son was born and where we spent every Sunday driving through the Smokey and Blue Ridge Mountains and absorbing the beauty of God's creation. Daniel and I moved to Asheville when he got a job there in 1973. The three years that we spent in Asheville allowed us to learn to depend upon each other without any family members living nearby. We left Asheville to move back to Louisiana when I was pregnant with our daughter.

The three years we spent in North Carolina strengthened our friendship with each other. I don't believe we would have been married for 40 years if not for our friendship. Marriage, to me, is about liking as well as loving someone else. My husband taught me that someone could love me. Before I met Daniel I didn't think I would ever find someone to love or someone who would love me back. He taught me that I was lovable.

Believe me when I tell you that Daniel taught me all about love over the years. He stayed during the worst of times before and after I started healing from incest. With the healing came a time of great confusion where I had to find out who I was. I had to learn to love myself. In learning to love myself, I was able to give a much greater love to my husband and children. Since our 25th Anniversary, more love, laughter and joy has come into my life. Daniel is responsible for a lot of the changes that I have made. He didn't make the changes, I did, but he is part of the reason that I wanted to make the changes. I wanted the pain to stop but I also wanted to be a better wife and mother for Daniel and our children.

Happy 40th Anniversary my love of my life, Daniel.  You mean more to me that I can express. You are a big part of the reason that I am the person that I am today. I love you with all of my heart. You are my Sweetheart.  You taught me to laugh. You showed me that it is okay to cry. You helped me to build a safe place for me to live in our home and in my own body. Thank you.

I am surprised to see how long this post has become. I hope it makes some sense to you. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Today Honor All Survivors Of Child Sexual Abuse

Something I wrote a short while ago on Twitter says, "Today honor all the Survivors that you know with a hug &/or kind words. We all struggle at times. We can heal." Today I ask you to do this for any Survivors that you know.  With the statistics saying that one in four girls and one in six boys today are sexually abused before the age of 18, chances are very good that you know at least one survivor. Another statistic that says your odds of knowing a survivor are even better is the one that says for every survivor that tells about their abuse, another six never report their sexual abuse.

I ran across a site a few days ago that calls itself RANDOM FACTS. Here are two lists that I read and want to share with you. Warning: Some of what you read in these two lists may be disturbing. I hope they are.  Education and understanding is necessary if we are ever going to stop child predators from abusing children.

64 Facts About . . .
Child Sexual Abuse

55 Little Known Facts About . . .
Human Trafficking

I will leave you with one more of my Tweets from this week. "I have always known even as a child that I would find a way to make something good come out of the incest." Reaching out to other incest survivors with my blog, my facebook page where I go by my full name Patricia Caldwell Singleton and on Twitter where I go by patriciasinglet is one way that I make something good come from being sexually abused as a little girl.  You will find me talking and sharing with other survivors in all three places. Supporting each other makes our healing a little less of a struggle than doing it alone. Now go tell your Survivor friend or family member that you love them and you are there for them. They will appreciate you for it. Have a glorious day.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Journey To Your Heart - Learning To Love Yourself After Abuse

One of my favorite affirmation books that I have used over the years of my healing journey is Melody Beattie's Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul.  The meditation for January 8 is entitled "Love Yourself Until It's Real." I am going to share just a little of Ms Beattie's wisdom from that page:

"Self-love means loving and accepting yourself, your thoughts, beauty, emotions, your faults, imperfections, and flaws, your strengths, wit, wisdom, as well as your peculiar and unique way of seeing the world. . .

Loving yourself means accepting and loving each and every part of you, and knowing---knowing---that you are worthy, valuable, and lovable. It means loving and accepting yourself when you're surrounded by people who love you, and during those times when you think everyone's gone away, when you wonder if God's gone away too."

. . . .

"Sometimes, loving ourselves means accepting ourselves enough to tell ourselves other people like us and approve of us. Sometimes loving ourselves means approving of ourselves, even when they don't. It takes courage to stop cowering and openly love, accept, and approve of ourselves.

Don't just say the words. Love yourself until you experience that love."

Loving yourself is the real beginning of healing from abuse of any kind.  When you truly love yourself, you no longer allow anyone to abuse you, not even yourself. Loving yourself means you feel your own self-worth and you stop the negative voices in your head that said you deserved to be abused. You no longer believe that the abuse was your fault or that you attracted it.

Loving yourself means forgiving yourself for whatever negative thoughts that you believed about yourself. Recognize that many of those negative thoughts came from your abusers or your parents or your teachers. They weren't even your thoughts until someone in authority put them in your head.

Love yourself whether you think anyone else does or not. When you love yourself, you teach others how to love you too.  Be kind to yourself like you would be kind to others. Laugh at yourself and don't take life so seriously. Learn to recognize when you are stressing out. Breathe and relax. Remember to play as you did as a child. Being childlike is different than being childish. Enjoy spending time alone and listen for the inner voice that you all have. Make time to spend with family and friends who help you to feel good about yourself.

In 12-Step programs, you are told "Fake it 'til you make it." Do that with loving yourself until loving yourself becomes real. Pay attention to your thoughts and how you feel about yourself as you go through each day. Remember that how you treat yourself teaches others how to treat you. Give yourself time. Life, as well as healing, is a journey. Instant fixes don't work when it comes to healing from abuse and neglect from childhood. You are worth the time and the effort that it takes to heal. Learning to love yourself is the best gift that you can give yourself or your children.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Beyond Survivor: Rising from the Ashes of Childhood Sexual Abuse Book Review

BEYOND SURVIVOR: Rising from the Ashes of Childhood Sexual Abuse written by my friend Jan L. Frayne

Jan has been my friend for a year or two now. I met him on Triberr and Twitter through another Twitter friend who introduced us. During the sharing of Tweets and comments back and forth, and after becoming friends on Facebook, our friendship has grown.

What do a male from Wales and a female from the southern U. S. have in common to form a friendship when they have never met in person? Jan and I are both survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I have been honored to watch Jan grow and heal from childhood sexual abuse during the short time we have known each other. We have supported each other through that growing time.

I am pleased to see Jan reaching out to other male and female survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Even more so to see that Jan has published his own "Collection of Writings" as he labels his 1st book, BEYOND SURVIVOR which I recently read and am now sharing the book review that I wrote and posted on Amazon.com a few months ago.

Here is the book review that I wrote back in June 2012:

Jan Frayne is a courageous male survivor of childhood sexual abuse done by those who should have protected him instead of stealing away his childhood. Jan takes his readers to the depths of despair with his beautiful and tragic poetry. He also offers words of healing and triumph over the abusers.

BEYOND SURVIVOR: Rising from the Ashes of Childhood Sexual Abuse is written from a male survivor's point of view but it is also a resource for women who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. As an incest survivor myself, I could relate to so much of the pain and feelings that Jan mentions in his writing.

I can also relate to the fears and the courage to face those fears that I know Jan experienced in writing this book for male survivors.  Jan's book is among the first written to address the issues of male survivors.  I hope that Jan's outspokeness and courage will be spread to other men who are also survivors.  Men need the support and the courage to speak out because, together - male and female - we will win the war against child abuse.

If you are interested in learning more about Jan and his healing journey, you will want to listen to a guest talk that Jan does with Patricia McKnight on Dreamcatchers Blog Talk Radio back on June 6, 2012. The link for Beyond Survivor - Author/Advocate - Jan Frayne 06/06 by Dreamcatchers Blog Talk Radio is as follows:


Also, the link to Jan's blog The Wounded Warrior is as follows:


I hope you will join me and read Jan's book and his blog. Feel free to leave comments here and on Jan's blog. Some exciting news is that Jan is working on book number 2. Can't wait.