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Showing posts from December, 2017

Out With The Old...

It's New Year's Eve, and I'm spending it deep cleaning my house. I've been working on "good enough" instead of "perfect" all year, my kitchen and bathroom certainly reflect the achievement. I usually have a Sisyphean outlook about cleaning, given that I have three kids and lack the assistance of Alice from The Brady Bunch.  But I love a good metaphor, and what better metaphor is a thorough house cleaning on the last day of the year?

So, this year has been... interesting. I'm not one of those people who declares the whole year to be great nor terrible. I mean, how is that defined, anyway? By fate or free will? I am neither looking forward to 2018 in fear and dread, nor giddy anticipation. There were ups and downs in 2017 and there will be ups and downs in 2018. But on the whole, I felt this was a year of progress. There is something that feels complete about it, other than the date. Perhaps because I feel like this was a year where I met my goal…

Integration

Writing about the nature of abuse along with my own personal experience of it has been an extremely helpful tool for me to better integrate who I am. For a long time, I distracted myself from going there, knowing full well that when I did, it would be intense. Eventually, that strategy failed and I was left with no other healthy alternative than to face the big, hairy, purple monster head on. When I did face it head on, guess what? It was intense.

I had to do a lot of interior work to get to a place where I could be fully honest and present with the full impact of what happened and the damage that was done. In this full embrace I finally allowed myself to grieve on a level I previously thought was "too selfish" (my abusers' words, not mine) to do. I allowed myself to fully acknowledge a range and depth of feeling that was previously inaccessible. The paradox of pain and relief that go with this sort of work often overwhelms me in a way that requires literally all I have…

Point of View Ping-Pong

I have always been a perceptive person, able to see any situation from the point of view of others. Growing up, I never understood how I could see my parent's point of view, but they could never see mine. And the (not so) funny thing is, their point of view was always skewed in their favor. If they were upset, it was my fault. If I was upset, it was my fault. If they were offended, it was my fault. If I was offended, it was my fault. See the pattern?

When I was blamed, which was inevitable, I would take responsibility for my part, and then some. Even when things were not my fault, I could trace the line of reasoning back to how they could potentially find fault with me, and I would even take responsibility for their false perceptions. For example, one time, in a rare act of generosity, my parents took my friend and I to see our favorite band. My bestie and I were understandably excited, and screamed and cheered throughout the show. It was two hours of sheer joy, for which I later…

When It's Not Enough, It's Enough

Many survivors, myself included, struggle more than usual this time of year. Perhaps it's the darkness. Perhaps it's the expectations. Perhaps it's the collective anxiety of the season. For me, it's all of these and more. I can prepare, plan, and manage all the tricks I know to deal with my stuff, but complex trauma sneaks up on me in unusual ways, and right now it feels particularly intense. With that, here are a few reminders for those of us who struggle.

When you are doing the best you can, but it doesn't fix or change things, your effort is enough.
When you are trying to be gracious in spite of your pain, but it is not reciprocated, your consideration is enough.
When you are curled up in a ball with your head under a pillow trying not to die, being alive is enough.
When no one sees how difficult it is for you, and yet somehow you manage, seeing yourself is enough.
When you do everything right, but it still falls apart, your goodness is enough.
When you don'…

When You're Curled Up In A Ball

As I write this, I have an excruciating migraine. It's the kind that would knock out most people, but I get them so frequently, I've learned to push through even when the pain is intense. However, earlier today, I was completely debilitated, curled up in a ball, in too much pain to even whimper. It started last night after along with panic attacks related to processing a freshly unearthed traumatic experience in EMDR therapy. I was wholly consumed, exhausted, yet afraid to go to sleep because of the inevitable nightmares I knew would follow. My panic was at the "I think I'm going to die" level, but I knew from too many similar experiences that the feeling would eventually pass.

As a survivor of complex trauma, too often, this is my reality. I am still learning to make space for it, especially after therapy. Going in for EMDR is like going in for chemo. It often takes several days for me to process afterwards. I am physically ill. My body tenses up so much I can …

White Women and Current Events: Scapegoating Helps No One

As an abuse survivor who struggles with complex trauma, I must limit how much I engage with the inescapable political frenzies that consume the cultural landscape. Like many other survivors, the idea that anyone could set aside reason to vote for a sexual predator stirs up a deep reservoir of physical, emotional, and psychological distress for me. I know first hand what the excuses sound like, and I have zero interest in entertaining them. I have written before how those who enable abuse are often worse than their abusers. I despise enablers. As a survivor, I process more traumatic fallout from the enablers than from the abuse itself.

 That said, I want to address why it's important that white female voters do not become the political scapegoats for the actions of predatory white male politicians. Last night's election in which Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore, largely due to the voter turnout of black men and women who voted over 96% in favor of Jones, was a win for everyone. A…

Validation

Recently, Arc of Hope, an (excellent) child abuse recovery and support network on Twitter added me to a list titled "Abused Kids/ Child Abuse Victim Army." Seeing myself associated with being a victim of child abuse sent a shock through my body. It might sound weird, but it felt like a new revelation. Now, one might think that someone with the Twitter handle @AbuseSurvior, having over 10 years of no contact with her abusers, who has been been blogging about the nature of abuse for several months now, with scores of posts and a steadily growing audience might be used to the idea by now that she was abused. But seeing this struck me in a new and different way. Here's why. It was external validation, by people who "get it," that it really happened.

Growing up, not only was there no one else to validate that the emotional, psychological, spiritual, and sexual abuse happened, but the very nature of the abuse meant that I was brainwashed into doubting my own first-h…

Hoovering Sucks

I went no contact with my abusive parents many years ago, but my mother, a covert narcissist, still continues to hoover me in. Hoovering is a strategy characteristic of Cluster B disordered people wherein, like a vacuum cleaner, they try to suck people back in to their manufactured drama. It is yet another form of manipulation and control, often thinly veiled as "caring" or "concern."

When I went no contact, I moved away and left no forwarding address, on purpose. My mother has managed to get hold of my address with every subsequent move. Sometimes she manipulates other family members to get it. At first, she played innocent, as if I must have "forgotten" to give it to her. Other times, she has used the "poor me" approach to gain sympathy from the other flying monkeys in my family, who were all too willing to sell me out. (They are no contact now, too.) The thing is, if there was a real emergency or if she wanted to have a real conversation wit…

Actually, It Was That Bad

Recently, I wrote about the ways "It's not that bad" has kept me from owning and validating the true cost of my traumatic past. There have been times I have envied those with physical trauma because they received all the validation and support that was denied me as a survivor of psychological trauma. There are plenty of abuse survivors with far more dramatic stories than mine. Surely, we've all been in situations where someone else's story of calamity and misfortune has humbled us. Ironically, for many, holding on to the misplaced shame that their own story of abuse isn't "good enough" to be validated because more terrible things have happened to others is exactly the trap that keeps us silent and perpetuates the cycle.

Acknowledging trauma is about acknowledging one's own perception. It's not something someone else can determine or validate for you. The greatest goal for an abuse survivor is to be able to own what actually happened to them…