Archive for May, 2010


Internet Down

Hey readers,

My internet at the house is down, well actually the computer is damaged- possibly a broken harddrive, so I cannot check in and update regularly. Please leave a comment and let me know you were here. I will get back as soon as I can. Best wishes on your journey to healing ~SS

Another thought occurred to me this morning that I’d like to share in relation to this topic of “abuse” and “abusive” behavior. For many of us who have struggled with understanding these terms, one of the biggest “lies” we accept is that just because we do not have “many physical scars,” somehow that means we were not abused or our abuse wasn’t severe.

In conjunction with this, we also struggle because many adult survivors of child abuse do have happy memories of their families. We ask ourselves how can people who created such good memories in our childhoods also create such heartache and violence. There are no easy answers for the survivor.

We minimize the events of our childhoods, sometimes blocking them out all together in our effort to survive. We press our feelings down so far that the events become like pebbles in our mind. In reality, they are large, jagged boulders, but we have believed the lies so long that we cannot see the reality of our past. Often times, we are not ready to see it for what it was- tragic.

When we come to counseling and begin therapy, the process is painful. We are asked to bring in pictures of us as children, to confront and reassure our inner child, to dredge up the past bit by bit. The pain seems endless, robbing us of functionality for a time after each memory surfaces.

Therapists gently push us through this stage, for they understand what we cannot- to stay in this state of recovering memories would render us incapable of living. It is an ugly, heart wrenching process, and so to spare us additional pain, they prod us on week after week until we are empty of the memories, the purging complete. Only then can we begin to tackle each brick of our past and find healing. Only after we have acknowledged the horrors and owned them as our own, can we begin on the journey to wholeness.

Acknowledging the abuse happened to us, and not some detached version of our former selves hurts, because with this acknowledgement we feel, perhaps for the first time, the pain as our own. It didn’t happen to the child we were or the stranger from our past, it happened to us. Feeling this is both essential and cruel. The pain would be unbearable if it were not for the hope of recovery and healing. Admitting that we were abused and understanding the gravity of that abuse produces in the survivor both sadness and acceptance. From this place, we begin to move forward….

I am reading a book by Dr. Henry Cloud titled Changes that Heal. The book emphasizes bonding, boundaries, and grace, truth, and time as agents which bring about change and healing in those who struggle with depression or a less than ideal past.

One of the most difficult parts of the book is the use of words like “abuse” and “abusive”. The abused struggles to categorize behavior as abusive, wrong, overstepping boundaries, violating the self. We question if the actions perpetrated against us are truly wrong or if we just have wrong perceptions. We often wonder if the events or actions actually occurred or if our minds are turning against us. For the abused, “abuse” and “abusive” are grey areas which we cannot define.

What defines sexual abuse? Is it the act of forcing one to have relations against their will? Certainly. But what about the married man whose wife treats him like an object and only uses him for her own pleasure with no consideration of his needs or limits, or the child whose grandfather makes her uncomfortable when he kisses her goodbye and does so on the mouth? What about the grey areas? The things that make us FEEL wrong, but lie within the boundaries of familial relationships? Are these abusive too? One would not deny that they are traumatic to the person experiencing them, but defining them as abuse is much more difficult, especially for the abused.

If we say that abuse is something which makes one feel violated and has at its core a selfish motive, then what is abuse to one person may not be abuse to another. This removes the objectivity. What happens then when an abused person takes the case to court and the judge does not feel that the actions perpetraited against him qualify as abuse? So, clearly, this is a complicated issue. There is no list defining abuse by the acts that have been perpetrated across time. It is something the abused must rectify and work out in his own mind, a puzzle to be strung together like any other puzzle in life. It’s no wonder that books on healing bring about such confusion in the mind of the abused, when we struggle to even define and apply the terms used therein. Just some food for thought on this Friday morning as I continue reading about boundaries of the physcial body.

I am reading a book by Dr. Henry Cloud titled Changes that Heal. The book emphasizes bonding, boundaries, and grace, truth, and time as agents which bring about change and healing in those who struggle with depression or a less than ideal past.

One of the most difficult parts of the book is the use of words like “abuse” and “abusive”. The abused struggles to categorize behavior as abusive, wrong, overstepping boundaries, violating the self. We question if the actions perpetrated against us are truly wrong or if we just have wrong perceptions. We often wonder if the events or actions actually occurred or if our minds are turning against us. For the abused, “abuse” and “abusive” are grey areas which we cannot define.

What defines sexual abuse? Is it the act of forcing one to have relations against their will? Certainly. But what about the married man whose wife treats him like an object and only uses him for her own pleasure with no consideration of his needs or limits, or the child whose grandfather makes her uncomfortable when he kisses her goodbye and does so on the mouth? What about the grey areas? The things that make us FEEL wrong, but lie within the boundaries of familial relationships? Are these abusive too? One would not deny that they are traumatic to the person experiencing them, but defining them as abuse is much more difficult, especially for the abused.

If we say that abuse is something which makes one feel violated and has at its core a selfish motive, then what is abuse to one person may not be abuse to another. This removes the objectivity. What happens then when an abused person takes the case to court and the judge does not feel that the actions perpetraited against him qualify as abuse? So, clearly, this is a complicated issue. There is no list defining abuse by the acts that have been perpetrated across time. It is something the abused must rectify and work out in his own mind, a puzzle to be strung together like any other puzzle in life. It’s no wonder that books on healing bring about such confusion in the mind of the abused, when we struggle to even define and apply the terms used therein. Just some food for thought on this Friday morning as I continue reading about boundaries of the physcial body.

The office was quiet, but comfortable. A couch, two chairs, a desk in the far corner. Natural sunlight streaming through the window overlooking the trees. Peaceful. It was the sort of couch that people could lay on and drift off into uncharted territory. I could see myself there, one day. Instead I chose the chair furthest from the door, to keep myself from running. She sat in the chair on the opposite side of the couch and smiled, pen and paper in hand. And so it began….

An hour of my life, gone. And yet, redeemed. An hour of talking and listening, of sharing and being shared with. An hour on the road to recovery. Perhaps, the most peaceful hour of my day. I left feeling lighter, maybe almost hopeful that things could change.

Then something unexpected happened. Something for which I have no understanding. As the rain poured down outside our little suburbia style home, I felt a compulsion to run out into it. I took the hand of my five year old and pulled her out into the driveway, ignoring the neighbors. Actually, I’m not even sure I saw them at all, until after the fact, as we were heading back into the house. It felt cool on my face, it pelted against my bare arms and soaked into my dry skin. We raised our hands heavenward and enjoyed the fresh water as it flowed over us. I swung her into the air around and around until I felt dizzy with life.

It wasn’t the rain that made me feel so intoxicated, it was the rush of life through my body. I felt alive… and as I stepped back into my house and sopped the water from my hair, I felt thankful for that life. For the first time in a long time, I had lived in a moment, and it felt good.

Stigma, lies, misinformation, misunderstanding. We deal with these ills every day. The person who suffers from schizophrenia, the man homeless and insane, the self-injurer, the rape victim. But how often do we stop and ask if they need help? How often do we reach out a loving hand or a strong arm to those who feel so alone, isolated? The truth we don’t like to face is that many of us don’t, ever. Sure, there are those in high serving professions like nursing, counseling, and other mental health related fields, but what about the rest of us?

I’ve lost more friends to suicide than I care to share about here. That’s not what this place is for, but I think something needs to be said somewhere. I couldn’t help them any more than I can help myself, but I tried anyway.

I never write anything here for sympathy, so please don’t tell me you’re sorry. Understand, that there are people in the world who need a friend but have no one to ask to fill such a role. Reach out to the hurting, the destitute, the socially unacceptable. Write love.. maybe not on their arms, but on their hearts.

 I write love every day. I write it over my own scars, over my own pain, on  the mirror I gaze into every morning. I’m still fighting this fight. I’m still struggling in this war against my own self-destructive tendencies, but I’m still here. For today, I will be thankful for that. For today, I will reach out to another struggling along side me. For today, I will count the scars on my wrist and remember all the times I didn’t die but could have. For today, existing is enough. Perhaps tomorrow I will find the courage to live.

Well, I did it. I went. I think it went okay. It wasn’t overly emotional, but there were a few tears.

I handed her 8 pages of my journal- my admitting stuff about my marriage, nothing graphic- nothing detailed, but just general admittances. I feel abused, I feel used, whatever…

She wants me to keep journaling. She asked me to abstain from alcohol and self injury, but told me to call if I had a really hard day.

We touched on lots of subjects- the different kinds of abuse I went through, the time periods, my seizures, my previous counseling, my marriage, etc.

She answered all my questions and I feel comfortable enough to meet her again next week and have given her those pages from my journal.

I don’t really feel anything right now… It’s the numbness taking over again, but I feel like in a few days I might be able to listen to what I shared. Right now. I’m just glad to have one appointment behind me and another one scheduled.

I did feel very very anxious the whole time, but she was gentle and made sure I was “okay” before I left the office.

Living can be painful. Isolation makes it worse. Being busy is a coping mechanism. Being stagnant is self-defeating. Healing requires effort. Pain requires darkness. Injuries require air and light to mend, and maybe a bit of neosporin. Hiding is exhausting. Blood is red. Depression is black, or “blue like jazz.” Happiness is yellow like a beaming ball of sunshine. My friend is yellow. I am black, well maybe midnight blue, but close enough to black. Knives cut. Glass shreds. Skin scars. Hearts ache. Eyes cry. Lips part. Voices possess the power of silence and sound. Music weaves light and dark, noise and quiet, rhythm and tone. Words hang in the air, thick like molasses, sticky too. Friends disappear and reappear like an illusion at a magic show. Blackness of night morphs to morning’s rosy skies. Scars toughen the soul. Life continues.

No Major Tests Yet- Triggers!

Okay, so it occurred to me late last night as I was crawling in to bed that since Sunday, I have not faced any major tests yet. I have not been overly triggered by my spouse, my children, or any outside circumstances in a few days. But what happens when later tonight I’m feeling anxious about my first counseling session tomorrow? What happens when my spouse says something that makes me feel out of control? Or when I meet my counselor and something triggers me? Then what?

That’s when the hard part comes in. That’s when it’s going to take everything inside of me not to resort to previous ways of coping. That’s when I am going to have to lean on my support system, which still isn’t all that established. It’s NOT going to be easy in those moments. I know they are coming. I am preparing for them, like one might prepare for war, or famine, or a job loss.

How will I cope in those moments? Will I shout, scream, pull my hair? Will I cry as the blade finds familiar paths? Will I sit in a tub of bubbles and watch the candle flame dance as it sears my skin? What will I do? Those are the moments that will show whether I really am ready to move forward. Those are the moments that will either push me one step forward or many steps back. Those moments define my willingness to change. Those moments highlight my strengths and weaknesses.

So, I need a plan, a way to combat the thoughts in my own head. First, I will call someone and talk. Maybe I will write in my journal or draw on my skin. Maybe I will color with my children or listen to some loud bleeding-ear music. Perhaps I will go for a walk or make soap. The point is that I will need to do SOMETHING, something other than injuring myself. Something positive. Something that will bring me hope instead of shame.

This road is not an easy one to walk, and I’m not going to pretend it is. But it will be worth it in the end, to keep on pushing forward towards hope, towards a better life. For me, and for my children, this makes it worth the hardship and pain of healing.

As always, I wish you health and comfort on your own journey towards healing and wholeness. ~SS

DAY 2- Monday May 17, 2010
(May contain RELIGION and SELF INJURY TRIGGERS)

I took time for me today. I went to a local coffee shop and read lots and spent some time thinking (and praying). I wrote out lots of stuff about overcoming self-injury.

I have not self-injured since Saturday evening. I threw out my “tools”when I got home from church yesterday.

I listened to some good music at the coffee shop, wrote lots in my journal specifically about my relationsp with my spouse. I am seeing more clear than I have in months.

I’m still really struggling with depression, the impulses, and the anxiety, but this is a step in a positive direction. I made a list of what I will/ will not allow in my life any more. All these things are giving me little doses of strength and control back. Each realization or action pushes me one step further away from the ledge. It feels good.

I am glad that I reached out, even if I didn’t intend to. It was the weirdest moment ever. My Pastor came to me and asked how I was; I said “I’ve been better.” He asked what was going on…. and I pulled up my sleeve. I thought for sure I would be judged, condemned. But instead, I found love… and acceptance, not chastisement. They spent an hour with me…. talking, praying, but MOSTLY JUST LISTENING Smile

Supposed to send Mrs H an email on Wednesday and let her know how my week is going. She said I could call if I got really edgy and needed someone to help me through it. WOW!

Okay, this is straight from the pages of my recent journal entries.. so hoping it still makes sense. I NEED to post this here because it’s the only way I can convey what is going on. Because it touches on MANY different subjects, it feels best here. Feel free to move it elsewhere if needed.

DAY 1- Sunday May 16, 2010

(MAY contain RELIGIOUS TRIGGERS)

Talking to Pastor T and Mrs H today may have saved my life. I felt so out of control this morning, out of control and unsafe. I just had to get out of the house and knew I needed to go to church. So, reluctantly I went, even though I didn’t want to. Something told me I had to, and it wasn’t guilt.

I feel a sense of relief, not hiding my secret inside. SOMEONE KNOWS! I thought I would feel ashamed, but they didn’t make me feel that way at all. Instead, I feel relieved and loved.

Mrs. H said I should take a long look at my life and decide what I want and who I want to be, and then start living that out. That’s hard to make sense of, but I am trying. I want to be a good moth, a good homemaker, a good friend, a strong person of faith. I also want a good marriage.

One of the hardest parts about all of this is not feeling strong enough to go after what I want, or like I don’t deserve those things, but I know that there is something better meant for me.

Some of the things I DON’T want in my life any longer are easier to identify. I don’t want to feel mistreated by my spouse. I don’t want to feel rejected, neglected, and resented. I don’t want to feel out of control with my children. I want to feel like a loving, patient, understanding, and firm mom. I want to be a positive role model for my girls.

I don’t want to sit by and not pursue my dreams for the sake of my spouse. He can either support me or not, but I want to become the woman I feel I should be.

Knowing how to meae these things happen is much more difficult. Perhaps in the area of my marriage I can try ONE LAST TIME to lay it on the line and hope for change. I have already hoped so much; do I have it in me to hope any more? Something to consider..

For my children, I really need to learn how to be a good parent. I didn’t have good models at their ages, and thus far, I haven’t been a very good model myself. I need to learn. I need to do better.

As far as my dreams go, I will continue my education and look for a job to help ease the financial situation we’re going through. There is a plan, I just need the vision to see it. Hoping this will help me see.