Friday, February 28, 2014

Unresolved Anger And Low Self-Esteem

I know February 26 has already come and gone but I wanted to share this affirmation from that day with you. The information reminds me of how I used to be before realizing that I had to feel my anger in order to heal. What I didn't know until much later was that, as the affirmation below says, anger that we stuff, deny and don't express can harm us. We think we are burying the anger deep inside of us but the feelings refuse to stay buried. Mine came out as rage when someone said or did something to set me off. Let me know what this affirmation says to you.
"February 26
Unresolved anger is often the hidden source of low self-esteem.
                                                               ---Bill Bartlow

What we don't see, we can't understand. What we don't understand, we can't influence. And when that blind spot relates to the source of our self-esteem, the results can be devastating.

Hurt that has been denied, mislabeled, or unrecognized still exists, no matter how long ago we were wounded. In fact, such hurt---that is the hard core of all anger---is all the more potent for not being recognized or for being called something else. The trouble with burying something alive is that it will devour us from the inside. Buried does not necessarily mean dead.

At the core of much low self-esteem is just such a hard knot of anger. Anger over the way we were treated as children, rights that were denied, kindnesses that should have been there for us but were not. Love, encouragement, support, perhaps even the basic safety that everyone has a right to---none of these were to be had. Buried, that collection of hurts turned into anger and seeped out sideways. Sometimes the seeping turns into a flood. Often it becomes simply a prevailing state of being---we are just always angry, always hostile, always operating with a short fuse. That doesn't make us very attractive people. To say the least, we're not fun to be with. And so the anger over our long-ago hurt generates loneliness and rejection even today. Lest our tomorrows be affected as well, let us own up to our buried anger.

Hidden anger can kill me. I must recognize it and address it."

From the book Believing In Myself: Daily Meditations for Healing and Building Self-Esteem written by Earnie Larsen & Carol Hegarty, A Fireside Book Published by Simon & Schuster: New York, NY. 1991.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Healing From Incest Vs. Being Stuck In The Past

To often a person who is not a survivor of child sexual abuse looks at a struggling survivor and thinks she/he is stuck in the past. They may even voice their judgments to the survivor and tell them to just get over it or just let it be, it is in the past. Unknown to the person looking on, there is a difference between being a victim still stuck in the past with no apparent way to get out of the pain and a survivor who is revisiting the past in order to heal and work their way through the feelings of the past. In order to heal, especially if you were like me and still in denial that the past was affecting me, you do have to visit the past, look at it really hard and bring awareness that you still hurt because of the past. You still grieve because of the past. All childhood abuse can still hurt badly when you are an adult until you are ready to face it and work through it. Talking about your issues from the past in order to heal from it can look, to an outsider, like you are stuck in the past, especially when you break the silence of abuse and the words flow out of you like water from a broken dam. I had held in the words of abuse from at least age three until I was 38. That is 35 years of words and feelings that had to get out in order to heal.

Some things can be healed fast and you no longer need to talk about them. Incest isn't one of those things that heals fast. The only time I was stuck in the past was when I was still denying it was hurting me. As long as a survivor is taking steps forward, they are healing. It is only when we stand still and refuse to move forward, when we refuse to heal and feel, that we become victims again. Some people do wallow in the attention that they get and refuse to move forward. They could be said to be stuck in the past.

Most survivors are working hard to move forward. Please don't label a survivor as stuck in the past just because you hear them talking over and over again about their abuse. Stop and listen and see if they are moving forward or standing still. Do they just want sympathy or do they want your support and maybe some validation because they are learning to validate themselves. Do they need your love while they are learning to love themselves. I talked for 10 years in 12-Step meetings and I was also writing and looking inward and learning to feel the hurt so that I could release it. Don't judge a person as stuck when you haven't been through their hurt and you haven't walked down their path with them. You have no idea what it feels like to be a survivor of incest unless you too are an incest survivor.

Now I want to talk to the survivors who are reading this article. When you get really really tired of going through the pain of healing, it is okay to take small breaks in your day and do something else that makes you feel good about being you. Do something that makes you laugh out loud. Listen to yourself. Doesn't that feel good. Ask someone for a hug. Talk to someone that you know will really listen and validate what you are feeling. That isn't everyone. Not everyone can be trusted with your vulnerability. Sharing your feelings is always good, as long as the person you share with is a safe person.

 See the hurting little girl or little boy inside of you and sit with them in your mind and ask them if they would like a hug. If it is the first time you have talked with your inner child, don't feel rejected if she/he says no. It takes time to win the trust of your inner child. If you are like I was, for so many years, you totally ignored her and her pain. You may have even blamed her for the pain. Keep trying and over time she/he will come and climb into you lap for a hug. Love yourself and your inner child through the hurt. Forgive yourself for blaming your inner child and ask for her/his forgiveness.

Sit down with the quiet inside of you and talk to God. Ask for his help and guidance. Ask for a sign that you are going the right way. Close your eyes and imagine God and your personal angels hugging you tight. Ask God for the strength that you need to get through the hard times. Don't forget to thank God for the good times when they come. None of us is really alone. You just have to remember to talk to God. He is always there.

Now that you are feeling better, get back to work. One day there won't be as much work to do. One day you will see that you are moving from survivor to thriver. I know if I can do it, so can you, my friend. I love you all. Now please love yourself as well.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Incest - From A Pain-filled Past To Thriving

"We cannot change a pain-filled past. What we can do is change how it affects us. The past has already been written, but we have the power to write the future based on self-support and respect. We can write a future full of strength, peace, wealth, and love. All we have to do is what is right now."     
                                                                                        ---Iyanla Vanzant

Some parts of my journey have been painful in the extreme. Sometimes the journey has been exciting, filled with tears and laughter, blessed with earth angels and friends who have guided me and given me a resting place when I got tired. My journey isn't over yet. When I get tired, I take a break and then move forward again after a brief stop. I have learned to play and to love myself and my life whatever comes into it, even the struggle which tests what I have learned and how I define myself in the present moment. I love the search for knowledge and the wisdom that comes from experience. I love myself. I love who I have become and who I will be tomorrow. I would not be the person I am today without the struggles and incest of past years and the healing path that I chose to go down.

Everyone has the ability to change what they don't like about themselves. But no one has the right or responsibility to try to change another person. You can only change yourself. Even in a relationship, the only person you can change is yourself. I have learned to focus on my part of the relationship and let my husband focus on his. The strange thing is that once you change yourself, the other person changes too or they leave. I have seen it happen over and over again. If another person's decisions affect you negatively, you can choose to stay or to leave. If you expect them to change just because you want them to, you are fooling yourself. Until they want to change, they will not, no matter how much you want them to. Relationships are mirrors for each of the partners. The mirror shows what is good and also what you want to change about yourself. What I have learned is that in my connection to you, I learn more about myself.

I see myself as moving beyond survivor to becoming a thriver. Thriver is a new word that my computer doesn't accept yet as a true word. I think survivors who are beginning to see joy and peace come back into their lives maybe for the first time have started to use the word thriver to destinquish between being a survivor which is the stage where you leave your victim role behind and you have a lot of healing still to do. Today I have love and laughter in my life and I also have peace and happiness coming into my heart and mind. Happiness doesn't depend upon my circumstances. It depends upon my attitude and how I look at my life. Today instead of struggles, I see challenges. Instead of hurt and sadness, I see opportunities for growth. I have many moments of laughter in my life and in my home. I am not so overly serious as I once was. There is light in my world, even on the darkest days. To me that is the definition of a thriver. And there is always room for more good in my world. What stage are you at in your journey?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Birthdays And Valentine's Day

February 12 was the birthday of my mother and February 14 was the birthday of one of my abusers, in addition to being Valentine's Day. Most years those dates don't bring me any hurtful feelings to deal with. This year, on February 1, I was aware that both of those dates were coming up soon. The suspense was building all through the days up till then.

I have had dreams also. I wouldn't call them nightmares but I do remember the confusion and I remembered the details of each of them when I would wake up from them each morning of the week leading up to those two days. Without going into those details which are now fading from my memory, what I brought out of each of those dreams was a feeling of being lost and out of control of what was going on in the dreams. One of them even had my uncle in the dream sitting in a living room chair with a dead snake with an irridescent blue stripe down its back in front of him in a round hole in the floor as I was sitting on the floor beside his chair. I don't remember this uncle ever being in my dreams before. Sometimes my mother is in my dreams but she wasn't in this one. I know from a dream class that snake can represent sexuality and spirituality both, energy wise. I rarely see colors in my dream so I know that is important too but I don't know why unless blue is a healing color. I know that my uncle and my dad both damaged my sexuality with the rapes of incest which has lasting scars to this day. Also my trust in God was dented for awhile but that came back alive even stronger for me.

Dream books can only help so much with interpreting our dreams because symbols and their meaning belong to us individually. I would guess my uncle was in the dream and there were children in the dream with us because of the birthday date that was coming up. There was more to the dream but it doesn't pertain to this discussion of those two birthdays.

Only in the past year or two have I started to talk about my uncle as an abuser. I dealt with the abuse from my dad first because it was the most damaging and longer lasting. I guess I hoped by dealing with the abuse from my dad that the abuse from my uncle would be taken care of too. Most people assume that this uncle was a brother of my dad and he was not. He was one of my mother's brothers. All of the other brothers of my mother I loved but this one always scared me even at a young age. One of my earliest memories is of him walking me through the night from my grandmother's house to my parents' house one dark night. I was walking but not in school yet. I would guess from the image in my mind that I was around three or four years old. What I remember about that night was walking side by side and him getting upset with me because I wouldn't make up my mind if I wanted to go home or stay with my grandmother.

I loved my grandmother. She took me in at the age of two when I had whooping cough and the doctor said I couldn't stay at home because if my baby brother got it he would die. I believe that early time with my grandmother is why I never fit in that well with my family of origin and everyone always told me I was different. She gave me my sense of values.

Back to that night, I remember walking with my uncle down the dirt road and being in love with the beauty of the night. It was apparently Summer time because it was a warm, star filled night. The night time sky was awe inspiring, so unlike most three year olds, I was quiet and just enjoying the night. I felt safe in the night. Sometime not long after that I learned to fear the night. I am not sure exactly when my love of the night left me but it did.

With these two dates in February, this year, I felt some grief. I have felt the grief many times. I have learned to feel it, sit with it and then let it go. I used to live with the heaviness of grief as a background feeling that was always there, like the headaches that I have had most of my life. When I started healing and opened the doors to talking about incest and my issues, I could finally give the grief a name and acknowledge it for what it was. It stayed around for awhile until I worked through all of it. I cried at 12-Step meeting for a year once the feelings returned. Today, when an issues comes back up to be healed some more, I experience a day or two of grief and then it leaves. I feel it as the color gray and a heaviness that leaves my mind and body after about two days.

Back on February 5, I caught a brief glimpse of something else during the time that I was listening to a radio program hosted by my Advocate friend Patricia McKnight (Trish) on her Wednesday night program called Survivors World. This particular program was called "Survivors World - Its Teen Night w/ Justice K."  Justice is a teenaged friend of mine who is such a courageous young woman who shares her story of being sexually abused by one of her trusted teachers at the high school that she used to attend. He is now serving time in jail. Because of Justice's courage in turning him in, others are not being abused by him in his classroom. I will put the link to this radio program at the end of the page for anyone who wants to listen to this courageous 18-year-old tell her story.

At an early point during listening to Justice and Trish talking and also reading and responding to comments in the chat room of the program, for just an instant, something inside of me opened up in my mind's eye. All I could see was blackness with a feeling of a lot of hurt for what was done to me as a child. I felt hurt so intense that I had to shut it down. I had to leave the program because my headache just got so bad that I was feeling nauseous too. I went and took a pain pill and laid down for about three hours after that. I didn't actually go to sleep but I just had to be still and quiet. I don't know if this was old stuff coming back up or if it is possibly some of the memories that I don't have getting ready to present themselves. Just for a second, I also felt an anger and disgust for the people that hurt me and for those who didn't protect me. I felt deep sorry for the child that I was back then and also sorrow for the child that I would no longer become.  Except in one of my paintings on anger, I have not seen this blackness before. In my painting, the darkness is full of rage and hurt. The intensity of this blackness is not anything I have felt before. I will remain open to it coming back and letting me see and feel a little more. I hope this is making sense to you.

Before I close, I want to also share with you that I was one of the call-in-guests on Friday, February 14 on Valentine's Day to Butterfly Dreams Radio and Survivors World for Patricia McKnight's program called "Survivors World - Let's talk about LOVE." The link is also below under Related Links. I shared a little bit about what it has been like for my husband and me to live and love through the years of me healing from incest. I also had one ah-ha moment for myself during the show. I shared it with my husband after the program. It probably won't be obvious to you as you listen but it is more for me to process and think about and decide how I feel about it.

Related Links:

Survivors World - Its Teen Night w/ Justice K. @

Survivors World - Let's talk about LOVE @

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Headaches, Blocks To Writing And Not Giving Up

Hi everyone. I know you probably think I abandoned you all but I haven't. I have had a number of issues come and go since the last post in December. I expected that after Christmas things would slow down for me but they haven't. On top of all of the busyness, I have had a headache since sometime in October, at least. I went to my doctor in December and she thought it was my blood pressure causing the headache and added another blood pressure medicine for me to take. The blood pressure is good and the headache is still here.

On December 31, we lost our health insurance because Obamacare decided it wasn't good enough, I suppose. The new insurance has just now kicked in so I made a doctor's appointment for March 25, the closest one I could get with my doctor. I don't want any other doctor. She knows me and my quirkiness about medicines. With a new doctor, I would have to argue and with my headache I don't want to do that. The easiest thing this could be from is a sinus infection. I have had really bad ones before. The worst it could be is a brain tumor like my dad had the last two years of his life. I tell myself it isn't a brain tumor but a small part of me is still afraid that it is because my dad had one.

I forget when exactly it was that I announced that I would write my book about healing from incest but I suspect that is the reason for the headaches. The cause of my headache could just be every day stress of being an incest survivor who has contact with other survivors and their stories on a daily basis. It could be because I am going to be taking another step in exposing my abusers in my book. I was talking in depth with a couple of friends online yesterday about the possible causes of my headaches and I told them both that I would be writing about it today on my day off. I don't have a paid job but I am a volunteer who speaks with abuse survivors Monday - Friday. I think I handle the stress of that quite well but some days it can become overwhelming even for me. It is how I fulfill my purpose of helping other survivors. It is also another reason that I am not on here as much as I used to be. I do a lot of writing with my volunteering. Sometimes I think that would make a great article and then by the end of the day, I just want to get off of the computer so I don't share my writings here.

I have also felt blocked in writing my book and have been going inside of myself to see what that block may be. That block when it is going on affects when I write on here too. I am dealing with breaking the silence of incest again. Each time I work my way through that, I find the voices that tell me to be quiet, to shut up, that no one needs to know what goes on in my family, that no one will believe me, that no one will care what I have to say.  All of those are voices of my abuser that the inner child still carries and still believes. She and they create an internal resistance to my writing. I have to face that again.

As I was talking with my friends yesterday, I shared that back in 1989 when I started going to 12-Step meetings and talking about the incest, that I would come away from everyone of those meetings with a headache for the first year. I figured out after awhile that it was that internal resistance to talking about the incest that created those headaches. I overcame them. They went away, for the most part, after that first year. I could go to meetings and not get a headache.

Now I am going to share with you what I told my friends yesterday. I have had headaches for most of my life at least since the age of five, maybe earlier but I do remember having them when I was five. A friend asked me if I thought they were connected to the abuse that I experienced as a child. I told her that at the age of three I called myself an adulteress and I knew the minister was talking about sex. I also know that something really big happened to me when I was seven years old but I don't know what it is. There is a big blank space around whatever it was that happened. I just know that something happened. Writing that makes me tense up all over. My memories of incest are only from ages 11-17. I don't have any early memories of being sexually abused. I don't know who would have abused me back then. My dad, of course, had the opportunity to do something. So did the uncle that raped me at 11 years old. Another uncle that was my favorite uncle at a very young age could have been my abuser too. He made passes at some of his younger sister-in-laws when they were young. I just don't know who or what was done for me to label myself as an adulteress at age three. Like I said earlier, my headaches were here by at least the age of five. I had my first migraine at the age of 16. I had one a year for every year after that until I left home at age 19. They stopped for the most part until my 30's when the incest was beginning to stir in my mind and my dad was back in my life causing problems. I had an eye doctor check to make sure that the headaches weren't a brain tumor. I was put on an antidepressant that was supposed to stop migraines. It didn't. I took it at bedtime and had problems waking up the next morning but still had the migraines. A year later I started having them three or four times a week. I went to a neurologist who couldn't find a physical reason for them. All of the medicines we tried just made me sicker than the migraines did. Nothing helped. The biofeedback that the doctor wanted me to try was too expensive. My dad backed down and was out of the picture again and the migraines stopped until the next time that he was back. I saw the connection and cut him out of my life totally. Today I rarely have migraines.

I have had headaches off and on since I started writing my blog. Some part of me still wants to be silent. I will not be. I am no longer ashamed of being an incest survivor. It was never my fault and as long as survivors stay quiet, more children will be abused.

I am not writing this for sympathy or to worry anyone. I am writing it to figure out the possible causes and as always sharing my way of processing with all of my readers and also letting you know this is why I haven't been here writing too. I have dealt with headaches all of my life and I only say something to anyone about them when I am in so much pain that I can't function. If I gave into all of the headaches that I have had over my life, I would never have accomplished anything. I don't ignore them as it may look like. I do what I can to find the cause rather than just medicating them. I hate taking pain pills because I don't like the way they make me feel and my stomach doesn't like most of them. Also I am allergic to so many kinds of medicines so I usually try to treat them with natural products but even those don't seem to be working right now.

I am officially telling my inner child and my headache that neither of you is going to stop me from writing. I have a number of posts that are in my head that I will be writing over the next few days and weeks that I have wanted to share with you all for awhile. I am not ignoring my body. I am not ignoring the headaches. Obamacare and its changes couldn't have come at a worse time for me to have to deal with this. It is Winter time and I don't have a lot of cash flow to pay for these tests on my own. I will survive, as I always have in the past. They may slow me down a little bit but they won't win. I don't quit. I just keep pushing forward. My whole life has been that way. I don't know any other way to be. If you pray, I would appreciate your prayers. If you work with healing energy, I would appreciate that too. I love you all for staying with me and being patient.