Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Issue is not the Issue

Its in the struggle that we find our strength.

"Stress" is an emotional response to external stressors. Understanding this helped me to understand the difference between being able to bounce back from life issues vs breaking under the weight of what I'd carried as a survivor of really bad things. (SRBT:))

Its like my emotional resilience is a rubber band that balances the events called "life". 

If I only have life experiences that allow me to develop minimal emotional resiliency I won't have the ability to bounce back from normal, let alone abnormal, life experiences. 

In essence I have a very thin, weak rubber band instead of a bunch of rubberbands that I'd gathered through many different life experiences that would hold heavier burdens of life.

My thin rubber band will easily bend and bow to the weight of the burden it is holding and in time become frayed or even snap. 

As a survivor of childhood nastiness and parents who did not have their own healthy, strong emotional bunch of rubber bands developed from extended and consistant use of their emotional muscles, they passed to me not only the burden of being responsible for making their emotional stress levels easier to manage but they also modeled this way of managing - ie not managing via avoiding - levels of stress.

In other words - I learned that my survival depended on my ability to do the dance and "make" my adult parents "ok" and that I was safe only when I eased their emotional stress by not allowing myself to experience any of my own emotions in response to my own life stressors and experiences. 

Because -  of course - a child's emotional needs become a stressor to parents who don't understand that emotions are normal and that their child isn't doing anything "to" them.  

My parents modeled "stress management" by the way they engaged with life through avoidance/control coping instead of embracing life experiences and learning from them.

I did did not learn of or that I was capable of developing emotional resilience because my parents modeled emotional avoidance and punished emotional expression.

So as a child, then teen and finally adult - when I felt powerless over my thoughts, feelings and emotions I saw the stressors of life - the people, places, things and circumstances outside of myself as the problem and - avoidance of stressors the solution.

Life was my problem. 

Avoidance in any way, shape or form was the solution.

The downside?

Trying to control how I feel by controlling things outside of my control created a very tight and limited life experience.

I could not tolerate the downside of life but whats more - is I typically could not engage in the positive life experiences or emotions either.

And this became overwhelmingly exhausting - to the point that eventually I completely shut down and wore myself out physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

I could no longer cope because I had exhausted all of the coping skills I had access to.

My rubberband was stretched to the max and quickly being stretched beyond its limited capacity.

The other downside?

My efforts to avoid things I couldn't control often left me feeling even more powerless.

When I could no longer control people places and things to be "ok" when I created ways to avoid this stress through

acting out...

where I attempted to control others by blaming them for causing my distress and demanding that they adjust so I could continue to avoid my feelings of powerlessness or escape by running away from situations that were less than my ideal.

I blamed life circumstances for the state of my miserable life.

I could not see that I held the power to change my circumstances by changing my choices - because I did not know I had any other choices or the power to choose.

And acting in...

where I went when I was overwhelmed with trying to do this dance.

It was when I learned to see these life experiences as life lessons

that I learned that I could grow.

It was in embracing the emotional responses to past stressors that I began to live beyond the pain of the past.

My magical thinking from a childhood that required me to adapt to those who controlled my survival had left me ill prepared to understand the very grown up understanding that 

Life Happens. 

When my focus became learning to be ok in spite of what was going on around me is when my need to act out, lash out, run away or freeze...

simply ceased to be an issue.

When I began to see the life issues that could send me spinning...were really 

not the issue.

But that the issue was how I'd learned to see myself as powerless...

is when I began to see that I was no longer a victim and that I could learn to live far beyond survival, coping, managing and in general - avoiding life and the feelings my today life could trigger from my past life where I truly was powerless. 

What I've come to understand is that my expectation that life be perfect in order for me to be ok is a normal response to living in and coming from an environment that told me I was less than, incapable, defective, broken, never enough AND if life wasn't perfect -it was because of something I'd done; it was my fault.

This healing thing is a journey and sometimes I used to think that because I wasn't perfect I was therefore not enough; I wasn't good enough, couldn't do anything right enough to finally be accepted.

I dried up; I didn't know who I was or how to find "me" in the mess that had become my life; I'd been stuck in that dance of dependence for so long I didn't know if I'd ever find my way out. 

I was still waiting for someone to pat me on the head, toss some holy water over each shoulder and announce to the world that I was no longer broken; I was waiting for permission to exist.

What I've since learned is that in finding my power by learning to recognize why I felt so broken and how it showed up in my life is how I've come to realize that I'm not broken at all.

Just wounded.

And in finding this truth I found the power to find and heal myself by learning to recognize that when I'm lost in life's issues....

thats really not the issue.

In other words...the issue is not that life is my problem...

but in how I've learned to engage with life as it happens.

Learning to live beyond that place of broken is the hard work of this healing journey.

Its where I learned to fly.

The Story of the Emperor Moth tells of a man who desperately wanted to "help" this magnificent being to escape the bondage of its chrysalis. When we try to avoid the struggle is when we are most easily crippled.

This is how we do it... talks about how I discovered what the "hard work" was and how I came to understand that to go through the pain was the only way out of it.

 Seek Knowledge, find Wisdom, live your Truth!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Am Now "Enough"


In the past, a great deal of my struggle revolved around being good enough, doing things right enough in order to be considered enough.

Yet no matter how hard I tried I never understood why my best was never enough.

I was stuck in a never ending cycle of striving to find acceptance by finding what was not enough in myself to change it that I might feel as though I was finally enough for those who kept reminding me that I - and my best - was never enough.

Today though, I no longer have to try to figure out what would make me enough to finally be loved, I no longer feel required to deny myself in order for others to not deny me...

Perfection is a fallacy where others expectations define who I am, what I think, feel or do.

Those who cannot sit with my pain

most likely cannot dance in my joy

and in order for them to be "ok"...

they must tell me I'm not.

Today I no longer have to be "perfect".

Joy is now acceptable

Grief is ok

Fear is expected

Anger invited

No more ashamed


in pain

Now I live each day

The same

In peace that passes understanding

And truth that set me free

No longer alone

I now have me.

You are perfect just as you are. :)

Photo Credit

 Seek Knowledge, find Wisdom, live your Truth

Monday, April 18, 2011

This is How We Do It...the "Hard Work"

…by putting one foot in front of the other
I frequently am asked "how did you do this? How do I heal? How do I let the past no longer control my today? How do I get past this pain that never leaves me?"

Today I wanted to share a post that I wrote last year that was a storyboard of the path and process I followed to do the "hard work" of my healing journey.

Go here to read this post. There are quite a few links I'd like to invite you to click on and follow...each picture or soul collage has its own page and story behind it. There is also some Poetry and other examples of expressive work that I used to facilitate my journey from there where I lived in that dark place to here where today I live in the light:) 

What's the "hard work"?

Its the work in which I willingly entered into the pain of the past to finally experience it in a state of conscious awareness instead of avoiding it...and trust that I will survive it.

Its that place where I had acknowledged that the coping mechanisms where I was "acting in" or "acting out" that had protected me in the midst of the pain but no longer were serving me well as it had become the proverbial ball and chain that interfered with my ability to run the race or live my "best life".

Its that place where I learned how to no longer be a victim and desired to live far beyond survival. 

Its that place where I stopped avoiding triggers to cope and manage them and I began seeing them as the teacher that had shown up - because I was now the student who was ready.

Its that place where I realized that the only way out of this pain...

was to go through it

that I might finally 

live beyond it. 

Heres that link again where you can read this post and view its many links here:Whoops! I Did it Again! Using Creativity...

 Seek Knowledge, find Wisdom, live your Truth!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Funshine:)


A little humor while we heal is always a "good thing" :)

En Joy!

 Seek Knowledge, find Wisdom, live your Truth!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

emerging light

emerging light

When I started looking at my intense emotional over or under reactions and shutting down as a normal response to my life experiences I was able to see myself as injured instead of ill and hopeful instead of hopelessly lost in despair. This is when I could learn how to recognize being "triggered" as an opportunity to grow instead of a symptom of something to avoid. This is where I became empowered instead of empty.

Seek Knowledge, find Wisdom, live your Truth!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why Do I Have an Interest in This Survey?


Last week it was  brought to my attention that there is an unofficial survey going on and I thought it interesting enough to share with you. This appears to be an essay format where you can write as much - or as little - as you are comfortable with. 

You can view and respond here if you are interested in participating.

Why do I have an interest in this particular survey?

Because I was a victim to the misnomer that child abuse is a disease - or at least the effects of it are.

I've read and followed the work of Colin Ross and Sidran in my journey out of the traditional mental health system that deemed me to be "disordered" and "ill" as well as others work around trauma.

But ultimately it was when I found my own power to heal myself that I found freedom from the lies that told me I was defective, less than and somehow different and unworthy of being considered a whole and capable human being. *

If you'd like to read more of my personal journey into, through and out of America's mental health system you can go here or here to listen to how I began to find my way OUT of the despair that plagued me from first the original abuse and trauma of my childhood then the second trauma where my life was forever changed by being labeled with a "mental illness" that stole my hope instead of being heard as a survivor and allowed to - or even being guided to - heal from the inside out.

I'm thankful the mental health system is starting to look at "symptoms" as learned coping mechanisms instead of a genetic illness. Check out the trauma center that is the brainchild of Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk.

For more info on overcoming what many of us learned to accept as "genetic" or "ingrained" and permanent check out Darlene Ouimets blog Emerging From Broken where Darlene shares how she believed and lived in chronic depression and disociation - until she discovered she could break through the lies that kept her bound to the past. EFB is about recognizing and breaking through ALL forms of oppression and abuse and recognizing the lies that kept us in that place of broken.

If your background is sexual abuse, men and women around the world are finding Christina Enevoldsen & Bethany Ruck's blog Overcoming Sexual Abuse a vibrant and safe community.

Anyway - the archives here at A Journey contains bits and pieces of my journey and the abuse I escaped when I escaped "diagnosis" so you are invited to poke around there as well as visit the Resources page to begin to map out your own journey.

Ok, well then - back to the survey. :)

You can view and respond here if you are interested in participating.

The focus of this survey is described as follows:

This is an unscientific, information gathering survey about Comorbidity in mental health treatment and services.

I am a therapeutic practitioner who is interested in your experience with comorbidity. Please share your thoughts with me, if you wish.

Definitions for comorbidity include:
  • A condition in which a patient meets the criteria for more than one DSM-IV Axis I disorder.
  • The presence of one or more disorders (diseases) in addition to a primary disease or disorder

My disclaimer: Please use your own best judgement in participating in any online survey.

And remember...

Breaking through the fog and pain of the past begins with believing it is even possible to do so. 

*I do not advocate against mental health providers or therapy. I DO advocate to learn and understand what mental health abuse looks like. While my experience in the mental health system was far from helpful I do realize there are helpful, empathic and nurturing therapists and counselors out there and god bless you if you were fortunate enough to have found one. I did too - but only after 15 years of experiencing the crippling effects of poly pharmacy and the weekly company of therapists who enjoyed Medicaids residual income stream who sat silently while I ruminated over the sad state of my life. 

It should no longer be considered "normal" to have to seek for years for helpful therapy and experience the abuse of mental health service providers who are working out their own life issues through their clients. The imbalance of power and control in these dysfunctional relationships make abuse survivors a prime target to be manipulated and blamed for ineffective "therapies" and "treatments".

Seek Knowledge, Find Wisdom, Live Your Truth!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

This is Hope

May 29 2010

This is hope.

Knowing that

The light is there. 


It may be hidden by the fog


Behind a tree.

But it is there.


And as long as I didn't give up...

I knew that I would find it

And win. 

Seek Knowledge, find Wisdom, live your Truth!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Today on Empowering Solutions!

This month on we’ll be chatting with Victoria DiNatale; a survivor of severe bullying at her middle school, then again in her high school that resulted in a diagnosis of PTSD. Today Victoria shares how she made that shift from victim to victor as she takes her story and shares her PTSD experience and a message of hope and help!

Tune today in at 6pm EST! Click here!

 Seek Knowledge, find Wisdom, live your Truth!

Photo Credit

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ambivalence As A Survival Skill

I like looking for solutions.

But - part of looking for a solution - means that a problem has to be identified.

This past week over at Emerging From Broken Christina Enevoldsen, founder of popular website and private forum,
Overcoming Sexual Abuse, shared part of her journey at our mutual friend Darlene Ouimets blog, Emerging From Broken, and how she 
learned to identify the dysfunctional family relationships that had shaped both her sense of self and the way she viewed and interacted with the world. 

There's tons of great information in this post (and any other of her posts at
her website) but one thing I wanted to point out is how she identified that push/pull that can be so damaging to our relationships as survivors.

Here's an excerpt on this issue of ambivalence in her relationship with her mother; what it looks like and the purpose it serves:

As long as I saw her as all bad, there was nothing to grieve. 

I’d only seen her goodness when I was a child and I was seeing only her badness now.  

I was terrified that if I allowed myself to see her good side, I’d want a relationship with her and I would be exposed to more rejection.

As a child, it was normal to compartmentalize my relationships this way. It was safe; it kept me from more disappointment and pain. 

And it was normal that this would be how I would view ALL of my relationships: through the lense of expectation that others would cause me pain.

It was normal that my adult relationships looked so much like the ones from my childhood and that conflicting feeling of

I l
ove you so much. (I need you to feel safe, to be ok)


I hate you, leave me alone, go away. (Usually with a few choice names thrown in:))

It was NORMAL for me to view the world in 




Because that is how it was in the dysfunction that I came from. 

I was seen as good or bad based on if I'd done whatever I was expected to do and did it right enough or good enough, based on the ever changing rules that were arbitrary at best. And no matter how hard I tried 

it was never 


I was taught that I was either right enough or good enough based on someone elses determination but for some reason known only to those who modeled this way of engaging with the world as "normal"....I was never

just enough.

Raise a child in the way he should go

and when he is old

he will not depart from it. 


the problem was that I was stuck in that dance of seeing my relationships

and myself

through the dark lense of

all bad

or the blinders that let me see it as all good...

aka denial

and nothing in between. 

In this post by Christina over at Emerging From Broken she takes us into the process of how she was able to reconstruct her view from black and white to that place where she was able to see her past, her relationships and her life 

in living color.


polka dots

and plaids:)

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The Relationships That Shaped My Life...and What I Learned From Them

Seek Knowledge, find Wisdom, live your Truth!