Born into a family of dysfunction, I navigated my world the best I could, hoping to be loved, cherished, valued, held and heard. Instead I was met with disregard for my life, repeated, long-term invasion of my body, my innocence, violence disguised as love, safety/security masquerading as control. All at the hands of my parents and male siblings. I was doomed. A shell of a human. Existing in the dizzying cycle of being tossed around in the surf of life – only occasionally able to take a full breath, surface. Pieces of my personality chipped off, the tide taking them far off, away. Never feeling the ground beneath my feet. Becoming dead inside, broken. Accepting the abnormal as normal. As violence, invasion came over me again and again I became familiar with rage. The rage that was growing inside of me. Rage that would never be recognized. Undercover. A secret rage, thoughts of revenge that would bring a sweet, savory smile to my perfect little-girl face. Continue reading “Just A Shell”
When we stop honoring a family system that’s broken and full of lies..
When we stop showing up when they want us to just to make it look good.
When we stop doing things that make our blood boil just for the sake of looking like a good family.
When we stop doing more to please people that are impossible to please.
When we stop doing anything for people who don’t care about us truly.
When we stop honoring those who took away our dignity our self worth our peace.
When we stop living our lives the way other people want us to live them and be who they thought we should be.
Do you know how powerful you are?
When we stop pretending that’s when things start to change.
When we know better. We NO better.
Trauma has a way of slipping around, unnoticed in the body. Seems like forever ago it was born. We carry it silently, in a frozen suitcase until it starts to thaw. The hinges rust, material unravelling. Chunks fall out. My chunks come in the form of physical pain.
I begin to feel the ready to release as muscles and joints politely ask for attention. For discovery. For expression of that which can be held no more. Like an over due library book, I must pay the fine. Fine mess this is. The mess of unbecoming me. The mess of discovering who I was all along if not for these frozen parts. This bulky luggage I drag around.
The least I could do is to lend an ear to what my body has to say. It’s not just simply an achy shoulder, knee or tail bone. Absolutely not. When the body hurts for no reason, I mean, for no obvious injury or because of acute illness – well then, there’s always a deeper story.
IF. If we are brave. IF we are curious enough to stand still for the message. Mostly, we just want the pain/weirdness to go away. Sadly enough there’s no shortage of friends/family/practitioners who will suggest a quick remedy. Same folks who have no tolerance for our struggles, can’t sit with us in our suffering and just want it gone for us.
But there are some of us who live just left of center, on the edge of typical and hesitate very little when it comes to the journey of self discovery. The journey into the center of ourselves. The two seatbelt journey into the land of stored trauma. The buried treasure of sorts, the gold realized years later.
Trauma releases, bit by bit only when the conditions are right. Right? Mostly. Our higher self waits patiently until we are settled, until we are in a decent situation before presenting a sneak peek into our darkness. Sucks, right? What’s right about feeling/reliving trauma? What went in must come out. This. This is the work. Walking the walk. Walking the trauma to the outskirts of our body limits.
Which, is not technically true because NOT everyone chooses to excise their shadow. There is a great amount of support out there if one desires NOT to work with/tease out the negative/dark within. The supports may be in the form of alcohol, drugs, shopping, bingeing/purging, cutting, gambling, self harm, risk taking…. bla bla bla. I call these SUPPORTS because these choices actually take us out of our bodies and distract us from the pain that is surfacing.
Now THAT’S a support. So we don’t have to feel. So we don’t have to see. So we don’t have to hear. The emotions, the faces, the words lurking in our body pain. So the trauma waits, and sits and waits some more. While we hurt and go about the business of living. Holding our physical selves in sad or angry or fearful postures because this is all we knew. This is what feels natural. Until it doesn’t.
We can only blame others for what has “happened to us” for so long. I do believe it a necessary process tho. Absolutely. It keeps us separate. It puts the blame where it belongs. Cause come on, no child asks for pain, insanity, sexual abuse, abandonment, humiliation, neglect…As children we come by this honestly. Circumstantial.
But…I think we run with that bs and grow to treat ourselves the same. It’s learned. It’s what they wanted us to learn. The hate, the inability to accept help, the way we please others first, the way we deny our own needs…all learned. So many of us get stuck in- “they made me like this” and close that chapter. End of story.
But…for some amazingly brave souls, I for one, we came into this life knowing that we will eventually reclaim all that was lost, all that was surrendered, all that was taken. MOST people I have met on my healing path settle with giving their abuser(s) the free pass. MOST people. And that rips my heart to shreds.
A complete disaster -from where I’m sitting. I am watching the generations below mine imploding with dysfunction in worse ways than the original shit. It’s here now. The trauma is visible, palpable, begging to be transformed. It laughs, taunts.
When we forever get comfortable sitting in – they did this to me – and we do not tease apart the “this”, we never need to change or do things differently. We can even dismiss them and fake their non-existence. The hate and rage inside us continues to simmer. They are forever the villain and we get to stay forever the victim. Sounds cozy.
Don’t have any children please. Just don’t.
The action script unfolds something like this…
Repeat after me: I have a part in this problem play. I’m not the main character but I’ve been really good as a supporting actor. I have learned my lines, they are automatic. This is what they want for me, so I don’t upset the trauma cart.
But wait, I no longer need to be in this drama. Being actively involved in this show keeps me in a negative, regretful, low vibrational place. I will take the steps necessary to eventually exit stage left. I want aliveness. I want revenge. Getting better for yourself, yes, this is the ultimate revenge.
Put some tall boots on and trudge through the mud in your life. Sometimes you’ll be stuck, unable to move. Other times you’ll move swiftly like it’s your job. Well you really are self employed. It’s your business and your the only one with YOU skills. That’s either really good news or very bad news. But actually, you will completely OWN your own success. The pride and sense of complete accomplishment are yours. Forever. Now take that deep dive into who you most deeply are.
Your personal success will ripple outward to impact all around you and especially the generations to come. Show us your BRAVE.
I’m in love with snowy silence. White wrapped muffled fuzzies or is it fuffled muzzies? Either will do on such an occasion as this. Blankets of frozen warming me with fond memories. Memories of younger days. Much younger days after the storm. The sky purging all its discards. Heavy, thick, frozen air pausing life. Muting color. Halting movement. Muffling audio. Witnessing the world losing its voice.
Ready. Standing outside. My puffy fluffer snowsuit, 2 sizes too large, insulating me from the harshness. Rosy cheeks, hand-me-down winter boots and 10 cent knitted church bazaar hat. Ready for all of it. The silence deafening. I breathe in the crisp, freshness. I barely notice my chest making small movements under the layers.
My little person body filling, cleansing and clearing. But I know it always does. Without efforting or worry or pressure. It just happens. The freshness streaming to my lungs. Filling them with silence. The stillness then warmed and released to find its way out unobstructed. Completely.
Motionless on the deserted and speechless sidewalk. I wait. And listen. For nothing and everything. Sounds of silence disturbing and delighting me. The emptiness got me full. A snowblower in the distance. Scrape of a metal shovel. All is lost. All is found. All is well. I stand, frozen, listening for nothing. I hear it. The silence. The snowy silence.
The things I needed to hear. To feel real, validated and seen. Human. When I was not wanting to live, I could have used some reality. But let’s be honest. Seriously, you’ve buried everything. What you’ve done mummified, locked away. Of course, in the likeness of what was done to you. Someone ruined your lives so you then turned that on me. The damage you three have done. Shattering any chance of normalcy. For me. History repeated, when no one was looking. Default, complacency, asleep.
But still, there are all the things you never said. All the things I was starving to hear. All the things that might have changed my sad life, allowing me to feel instead of just surviving. To thaw my frozenness…
Imagine hearing – I’m sorry you hate your body, we did that. I’m sorry you need hyper vigilance just to feel safe, we did that, we never let you rest. I’m sorry you feel transparent, like everyone knows what you’re thinking, we needed to keep you feeling exposed. We apologize for pressuring you, never letting you rest- for if you rested you might have gathered courage and strength to outsmart us or tell others what we were doing. We’re sorry you fear assault will come any moment. Keeping you fearful kept you compliant. We’re sorry you cringe when you hear whispers in the night, we didn’t want to wake anyone. We’re sorry we ruined everything for you and aren’t sorry about it. We’re sorry we treated you like you were nothing, insignificant and insane when you confronted us. We couldn’t let others see our crazy. We still can’t see it ourselves.
All these things you’ve never said, running through my head, running through my head, running through my head. But it’s all ok. I say them. I tell that precious little girl inside me, who is growing up now because I’m in charge. I apologize to her for you, despite you, in defiance of you and for the love of me. All the ways I love myself. All of the love that I am, that I have to give. Anyways.
You never destroyed me. Never took it all. All along, I had the golden goose. My army was just waiting…My Spirit watched from afar as I soaked up all your bullshit wrapped in a pretty package of care and family. While I lived as a shadow, on the periphery of even my own life. While I tried to not exist at the age of 7. While I would hardly speak and just watched others most of my younger years. While I would never bring anyone over to my house because it was evil but everyone was smiling – you(s) and I could never have known the slow burning fuse had been lit.
I was meant for greater than I could ever have imagined. I am this. A private joke that keeps delivering. A smile so deep into my core it’s engraved into my soul. The smug smile of knowingness. I am that. Of overcoming. Of pity for you tinged with a hint of compassion – yes I said compassion- for your (still) inner turmoil and lack of awareness.
I have walked. Far. Never to return to you. For you are invisible. Because you could never say that you’ve tried to destroy me. That you wanted to destroy me. Because you were destroyed by your abusers. You’ve never been honest. You all can’t be. I understand. I understand everything now. Thats why I’m so powerful. So powerful.
Oh! All the things I CAN say now. And I do.
Ever listen to the leaves unfurl? Lying here it’s about all I can do. A lot in common these leaves and I. Hanging out in the present moment observing, listening, waiting. The slow angelic pitch, I imagine violin string elegant. Starting low and slow and opening as the pitch rises in question and wonder. Just barely audible as I sit in natures classroom. On nature’s furniture.
Announcing, loudly,. Claiming their assigned seasonal seat. Each an expression of individuality greener and greener still. Resilience and ready mixing with the promise of the Summer’s heat. Assuming the role of caregiver for the entire tree. Providing shade for all who seek. The face of the company ready to stand tall and accept storms, adversity and insect nibbles.
Oh the silence. Silence that holds colors, movement and nature’s agenda. All timely. Full of patience and promise. The silence that speaks so loudly one cannot possibly ignore. Like outstretched palms. These unfurling leaves. We can place our angst and suck -onto their plentiful surfaces. Nature never judges. Never scoffs. Just transforms.
Oh the bone pain, the freak out of incapacity. Having to rely on those with fake compassion. Bedside medical procedures without warning or explanation. I was frozen. Frightened. Wise and alone. Surrounded with smiling haters. Reliant on the living dead.
I was 19. With an undeniable thirst for victory. Mixed with a contempt for my own existence. Which would rise to the top, only time would tell. Armed with a deafening fuck you, a hardened shell ready to battle for my life. Stupid familiar territory. To show you that despite your impenetrable cold, I am victorious.
You broke me, now I’m am physically broken. This too, again, also, will break me down, this too, will devastate me. Defeat me. Because it has to. Because that’s what I’m here for. I signed the contract. To get me to do the inner work. This is the way it works. Bring it.
But. It will not. Own me. Extinguish my breath. Keep me down. Physical limitation fucking irrelevant to the drive inside. Just another mountain, jagged, inhumane, punishing, here to slay any signs of life. A life that is present but absent, just like yours.
But I don’t, won’t, can’t see it. Just like you. My life force stronger than the weight of tragedy then or now. Stronger than the weight of you. Inevitable. Predictable. But something needed to crack me open. Something.
So pregnant with dysfunction. It was time. On the brink of oozing the generational secrets. From a higher place, the universe spoke. A tragic accident, the undeniable catalyst for awakening. Spiritual awakening like a tsunami. Like someone left the truth dam open. Higher forces prodding the reluctant, like me, to visit with the emotional trauma beast within. Behind the dimples and unassuming sweet teenage smile…
Wild beasts of recovery and revenge running amuck. Their stories unearthed, audible. However difficult, we digest or reject. Each painful. Each useful. Over time we choke out the dark, discarding the lies and betrayal and other nasty reminders of remnants on evictions doorstep.
Thankfully the flight of graceful, here. The angelic realm poised to embrace my broken, trembling body, providing a safe haven in a sea of lost. Where it’s free to NOT be ok. Freedom to feel even the darkest of feels. Freedom to express the rage and terror, shame and shock. Openly.
Physical recovery parallels emotional. The unlikely victor I’ve met in me. Snatching back what was mine. Taking back strength, power and unearthing buried resiliency. Bones and emotional strength unbreakable, unstoppable, opaque, dense, unyielding. Like a bone that mends with fortification – now protected, safe and dependable – like no other bone. Unable to return to its previous condition. Maybe even stronger.
I’ve forever severed my dependency on the unstable and instead focused my reliance on my own inner wisdom. My own fortress of sanity, house of rock, walls of protection. Brokenness calls for attention to our unfinished places. So we may live our best versions of ourselves. Our most authentic lives. Without apology. We survive. And thrive.
If you have a car you are familiar with the CHECK ENGINE light. If you have a body you might also be familiar with the same kind of warning. The warning might come in the form of swollen joints, fever, chest pains or any other sign there is a security breach of wellness – inside your castle.
The early warning beacon, letting you know that you need to go in for service. Probably skipped that last service appt as things were going well. Why fix what’s not broke? 2 weeks ago my CHECK ENGINE siren went off in my chest.
I awoke with chest discomfort. A cramp of sorts that I just could not ignore. It had been less severe during the week but this was different.
Of course, I fast forward to my funeral. Have I made a difference? Will anyone miss me? When will my heart stop? Will it hurt? Then, the pain disappears just as quickly. Relief. But will it return? Will this be it?
As I wait for my appointment, I live my best life, wondering if each hour could be the last. Waffling between panic and satisfaction, I carry on. For the next 3 days I reflect on my life, how I’ve been able to bust up my FOO (family of origin) and continue to stand tall atop the rubble.
I am flooded with pride, my love for myself spilling from my pores, a purple mist entering my heart space. A healing mist, mist of comfort and knowing and grace. Angel’s exhaled grace holding my heart in tender appreciation.
I’ll be fine. My heart is fine. Scarred? Yes. A thorough exam and stress test reveal normal function. A beautiful, typical pitter-patter. Nothing wrong they say. My heart whispers, “there was never anything wrong with you.”
My check engine light is off for now. I resume normal function. Listening to my body, everyday. Slowing down to take notice of my needs. My self heal modalities cued up. My toolkit brimming. Self-talk extremely important. Ready for this to happen never again.
The greatest gift we can give our country and our fellow human beings is to do our inner work.
Inviting you to step outside of your shell and be the love you seek, be the clarity you seek, if just for today. Carry on
I never lost the child within. She’s right here next to me. Gathering trinkets on walks. Stones that peak interest, pine needles that prickle on my cheek, pods yet opened, full of possibility and promise of another season.
Feathers of hawk, abandoned hornets nests, berries artistically encased in ice – saved in the freezer, crimson leaf pressed in the pages of the Mother Earth catalogue, brown, striped seeds of mystery.
Recuerdos, mementos for recalling yesterdays, telling the earth’s story one tchotchke at a time. Don’t lose the child within. He/she is counting on you.
Here we are, Christmas quickly approaching. So of course I have no plans to spend time with my family on Christmas Eve. If you’ve been reading any of my earlier bloglets you have a really good idea as to why I choose to remain separate.
Yes, it’s really difficult to stand your ground and distance yourself from those you bonded to. Excruciating at times. But as a child, when your Spirit is slaughtered over and over and over, some of us learn to stand tall in our adult years and fight the fight. Reclaiming our lives from the grips of traumatic memories/physical horrors.
So you can prob imagine the shock in my system when my husband texts me, “Do you think today you can get your mother a card, from me, for Christmas?” I thought to myself – self, well, that’s kind of weird but ok, whatever…just as long as I don’t have to SEE her royal craziness.
So off I go to the store to the cheerful love your Mother Christmas card section. Rolling my eyes, I saunter up to the section of colorful, Christmasee cards, all ooozing and gushing with all-things-Mom-ness. Here it is, the “ I wish my Mom was like this” aisle.
On my left there’s a bright yellow sign which says…“ Hokey Pokey turn your life around card section” COMING SOON. Shucks! Guess I’ll have to come back later for that selection. I start opening and reading. Opening and reading.
“Your love, Mom, reminds us of the love in our hearts this Holiday season…..”
“You are the glue that keeps this family together”
“A special Holiday wish for a special Mother…”
“Mom, all the joyful Holiday memories we share…”
“When we feel the Christmas spirit we remember the love you gave to us…”
Wow, um, nope, not a chance. This is harder than I thought.
I need the AF cards that are a little more honest. Maybe a blank card to write his own message… he’ll kill me lol. I know it’s Christmas and all but I don’t really have a taste for sugar, she ruined that for me…
If I could design a card…
“I hope you have the Christmas you deserve” or “I’m sure you think you did a great job but I am entitled to my truth and my opinion” and “I gave you the first 1/2 of my life, the rest is mine” or “Your energy is toxic so it’s just perfect if you celebrate Christmas at your house and I celebrate it at mine” and “No worries, I’m not angry, in fact, I don’t even think of you anymore, Merry Christmas”.
These MIGHT not exist in card form but I’d be willing to guess that I’m def onto something here. There might be a market for the card that never gets sent. Right?
So, I ended up settling on this generic card, “It’s Christmas, Hope you spend this magical season any merry way you like”. See?, everyone’s happy. Done. Got the card, husband will deliver it tomorrow. The card, consonants and vowels scattered about in a meaningful array of sequence. Recognizable as a gesture of nice from a nameless party and her caring spouse. I’d say we more than covered the bases. Check.
Poor thing, he’s kinda stuck in the middle and sees her rarely but he continues the facade of caring. She’ll hand him a gift for me – which always triggers me… throw it out, unopened? give it away? burn it? bury it in ceremony? So sad that she wants to own me.
So sad that she keeps trying. Refusing to let me have my truth. She holds out hope that I’ll forget that she resembles the witch in Hansel & Gretel. Caging the children so she can devour them. She read that story to us often, not surprising.
Now it’s time for me to read her a story. I hope she likes her card, I hope she hates her card, I hope she notices how much of a non-card it really is, I hope she notices how I did not sign it, I hope she feels how much self-love I have now, without her presence.
Despite all of this chatter, NONE of this really matters. I just simply bought a card. A Christmas card. Nothing more than paper, glitter, a stocking, teddy bear and cursive font… no promises, no agenda, no should haves, no attachments. A card. Merry Christmas Baba Yaga.
I’m in love with the smell of October rain. Arriving upon a cool, warm, wet, chilly breeze. Coating crunchy leaves and crispy flowers. Gathering dusty, dried earth for a communal autumn hug. The rain slowly arrives, moving in on the quiet. Settling into its resting place, lukewarm and lovely.
Making up for Summer drought, it falls. And falls. Smelling like forest floor. Like rich brown soil. Like the underpinnings of fabulousness with a side of mushroom spores and pine bedding undertones. Resurfacing the foundation of new life. Possibilities. Rich mineral magnificence.
The fragrance of possibility. Of spent corn stalks, cold harvest moon mist and pumpkin spice. In the air, previews of icy rains and solid precipitation. The falling away of what is no longer needed. That which weighs us down. Rain showering off the unwanteds, the old, the haggard, tired. The dead crunchies in our lives.
Washed into tomorrow on an endless cycle. Each rain flushing our discarded patterns. The old, worn out becoming new again. Replaced, reset, realigned by fresh new growth. Breathing in a little slower today to fill my empty spaces with the smell of rain in October.
I feel a little piece of myself in everyone I know, everyone I meet. We are all a mixture of light n dark. A fine recipe of delicious complexity.
I am joyful and depressed, I’m hateful, I am optimistic, I’m a killer, I’m jealous, I’m content and curious, wild, responsible, disengaged, entitled, invisible, enraged, tired, discouraged, complacent, magnificent. Big breath in….. real, lost, embarrassed, hopeful, dreamy, open, humiliated, passive, judgmental, honest weird, eccentric, lonely, pissed, accepting, blank, spiteful, alive, proud, blessed, dismissive and aggressive.
If we’re honest, several of these are living within us. Sure the positive traits/experiences are easy to embrace and recognize. The darker, shameful, maybe even shocking tendencies we def try to conceal, deny, excise. They need love and compassion too. They’re looking for recognition and expression. To be lovingly surrounded with safety, protection and containment.
Can we privately bring LOVE
to the parts of ourselves
that we hate?
If just for this
If just for today
Getting well, I held all of you OUT
To spite you
To let you feel and see
That you could have NONE of me
So you could feel unworthy/unwanted
Dirty and discarded
To show you I was in control of YOU
That you held no power over me
That I was always never totally yours
Never totally under your control
There was always a piece of me you (3) could not devour
My magnificent SPIRIT
That which kept me alive
It had to leave my body
I had to leave my body
A body being ravaged by your violence
By your sexual agenda
Your mind fuck
Tricking me into being loyal
Surviving on autopilot
Aliveness and light snuffed
Slaughtered by your fake love
How I wished you all would stop
How I wished I could stop living
But your abuse allowed my gifts to surface
Oh integrity, perseverance, grit, tenderness, pin-point intuition
Just little ole me
Detecting entitlement, control and lies
All delivered with a smile
A big FU arises
But how wrong of you to choose me
Very dumb choice
My Spirit fueled my mission
I was never totally out sold to you
My healing journey
An agonizing one
The deep hate and rage simmering
Building on itself
Spirit returning little by little
Empowering, driving me
I gutted you with truth
My duty, a healthy revenge
Shoved your nose in shit
Publicly mmmmm deliciousness
I‘ll forever hold YOU out
Leave you with your own open wounds
Because my self love is solid
Because my sanity is important
Because my allegiance to your cause has expired
Because life is joy
And an uncluttered mind
A calm body
Freedom and expansion
It’s always been the same destination
But instead of fighting against
I’m fighting FOR
A different highway
Better air quality
Pleasant, sunny, freedom
Arriving HOME to myself
I am letting go
of who I thought
Who I thought
I should be
Who they told
Landing in a softer
of self acceptance
Landing in a softer
Landing in a softer
more supportive place
the seeds of overcoming
set into action
I am letting go
My happy little mung bean sprouts strive to go higher. To be more. Transcend the limits. Problems. Reach toward the light. But wait… how about we just stay in this moment, in this jar.
Not caring about what’s next, what’s due, who’s waiting…stay right in this space. This moment. And this one. And this one. Without expectation. Without movement.
Sprout your stillness. Name it. Breathe.
I’m in love with deep breaths. The boundless kind refilling my sails. Conscious sips of love welcomed into my chest scape. Dismantling an anxious foundation fortified with last weeks sludge. Thought by thought, I see them to the door. Some reluctant, but soon completely evicted from this wisdom pipeline of the soul.
Conscious or unconscious. I breathe. Resetting the tick, time, tock. Slicing up deadlines and have-to’s. Making manageable the most tangled armor. This luscious, quenching air filling the deep crevices between uptight and spacious. Grounding the body right here, right new
The holy rolling of chest. Breath enters and exits on two lane highway traveling South. Drawing in fuel, to our receptive muscles. Once again, saying yes to life. Then the exit North. The release of rib cage tension allowing drainage of all that is not serving us. All that has expired within us. Each cycle bringing us closer to ourselves.
In an endless cycle of fresh. An endless cycle of Peace. An endless cycle of Presence. I’m in love with deep breaths.
Today I will be open to all possibilities.
Today I will start fresh.
Today I will know that I am worthy of greatness.
Today I will accept my body and thank it for all I am able to do with it.
Today I will take baby steps and say NO to one thing that no longer serves the new me.
Today I will say YES to something nourishing I want in my life.
Today I will stop and notice my breath as it enters, then leaves my body.
Today I will imagine a shield between myself and whatever it is that offends, scares or repulses me.
Today I will imagine a place of safety for myself and my inner child should things get rough.
Today I will know in my heart that protecting myself from what feels bad, is the most loving thing I can do for myself right now.
Today I will know that even without asking for it, I am being supported Spiritually, in ways that I have only dreamt possible.
Today I will know that I can take in that support and know that someone has my back, always.
Today I will know that I am loved a thousand loves.
Today, Thursday, I am new.
The search continued. It had to. Can’t ALL be so unaware, so aloof, disinterested, re-victimizing…could they? Even if you suck at what you do you STILL have experience. They said they had experience with childhood trauma. Hmmm. With limited awareness and clarity with your own process, how can we expect you to properly assist another person on their healing path? Having been exposed to these well meaners compounded my lack of faith in humanatee. A big fat sea-cow in an ocean of disdain.
Confirming my, “I am irreparable” notion, all due to people not doing their “work”. My expression of graphic truth touching their darkness resulting in their shut down, perilalysis, or disASSociation. Say, for instance you’re in a restaurant. The person next to you clutches their chest in pain, maybe a heart attack. You want to help but as you rise from your chair YOUR chest also begins to hurt, you go into a full-blown panic attack, rendering you useless to the other person. -A simplistic depiction of countertransference. Trauma triggering trauma. Emotional entanglement/meshing/merging/fusing with the client, which negatively impacts a therapist’s ability to lead.
Enter Paul, my next psychoterrorist. A charming Victorian third floor office. Beautifully decorated. He came highly recommended with much experience in the area of abuse and women’s issues. Finally! This would be IT. Fingers and toes crossed. Paul, a bald, middle-aged and deeply baritone voiced gentleman, welcomed me, with open harms, to his practice. We began. Small talk. About where I’d been. And his experience with clients of my gripe. Lol. Nice enough.
Writing feverishly…enter the million dollar question.What brings you here… I got into it, hard. Haven’t I wasted enough time with the other do-gooders? He began smiling, like I was telling him a joke and he was anticipating the punchline. He added some “yes, go on” and “oh, really?” scripts every client expected from a paid listener. “Tell me more” and “Tell me again” with what sma-hack-ed of enjoyment and entertainment on his creased face. Like I had just delivered some juicy gossip. “That is fascinating” and “Are you sure this happened”? Actually escaped from his jagged smile. Any minute now, I expectorated him to pop up and put a bag of popcorn in the microwave. His affect clearly needed a tune up.
Shifting in his comfy seat, I got a peak of his legal pad – he had drawn a CAT!! Silly me, I thought I was saying something worthy of recording. Thought he might be taking notes. I felt completely deflated, invisible and devalued. If THAT wasn’t rea-dick-a-less enough …nearing the end of the session, I offered some disgustingly graphic trauma piece as a last bitch effort to get some authentic reaction. (Which I am incredibly good at – thanks Mom). For what seemed like a minute, his mouth dropped down and gaped open, eyes wide. His body, except for his neck, froze. He slowly turned his mannequin head to the right and stared out the window for a very uncomfortable miNUT. So, remember the THIRD FLOOR thing? Nothing out there except sky, lots of sky guy. I actually got up and looked too, his stare was that intense. Dude, there’s nothing out the window, nothing. He sat, lifeless, no blinking, no swallowing. Nothing. And just like that, he returned from his long strange flip. T-why-light groan. Holy weirdness. Another disaster.
So this tiny little blurb about a Sexual Abuse Support Group caught my I. Beyond excited. All women in the group. Perfect. Group of 5. Harold introduced me to the group and all of the women shared a blurb. Very lovely women. I was the youngest member. All very charmed by Harold, giggling when he spoke. A dandy guy. Harold offered his background. He expressed his special brand of wisdumb, “After all, men are idiots. We should cut off all their penises and ship them to a deserted island”. God’s honest truth! His exact words. Later that night, Harold offered more creep… “Yeah, you know, I touched my sister and it wasn’t a big deal, so there’s nothing wrong with that” AYFKM? He looked around nervously to see how he was being received. Eyes bouncing from one participant to the hexed. Harold, poised on the edge of nervous laughter and arrested exhale. He excused himself, apparent worry broke out amongst the group mates. Come to think of it, Harold excused himself at least 5 times during the 2 hour group – just adding to an already bizarre situation.
In his absence, I questioned the other women, asking how long they’d been a member. The responses were between 2 years and 7 years. What? After that night, I never returned. But Harold wasn’t done tryin to work me into his gig, his magic act. He wouldn’t let go. He sent me a letter, “You need this group, this will help you. You really need to return for support”. THIS is straight up cray-cray. Of course, no response from me. Another month went by and he sent me another postcard, reminding me of the group ”you should be here” Now I was pissed. I wrote him back. “How dare you try and take advantage of the most tender, most vulnerable population by insinuating that I could not make it without you” “You call yourself a therapist? You are basically pushing your agenda onto me and scolding me for not complying” “That’s abusive” “I put a boundary and you are not honoring that”. I should have reported him but I would have been cast as just another crazy patient.
The final crazy encounter, with a physician, occurred when I was seen for a panic attack visit in 2000. I was new to the panic world and, just like everyone else, was convinced that it was something else. Anxiety couldn’t possibly make me feel like I was gunna die…. So this well-meaning, lovely Indian Physician listened to me as I talked about my long history of anxiety stemming from a dark childhood. When I told her about my abusers, her “helpful advice” was the following. “Why didn’t you punch them? or tell them that you didn’t want that to happen to you? You have to tell them”
Ok Dr., like it’s as easy as telling them to hold the onions on your burger at McDonald’s. Excuse me, yeah, no onions please, ok, thank-you. I so desperately wanted to live in her world where all you have to do is tell someone to stop and they do. Wow, whammo, why didn’t I think of that. Holy mind fuck. Blame the abused. Thanks a bunch. LOL
Kinda hard when your abuse began when you were pre-verbal. Maybe you were older and when you said no, it was the same as yes. I don’t really think a 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, 10-year-old girl is any strength match to male teens and adults, hmmm, you? What a bizarre suggestion (punch them). Most likely our first abusers are family members or friends of the family or someone entrusted with our care. We rely on them for safety, a roof, food in our bellies and love. When you are reared to believe your privates/body belongs to others – where does the protest fit in there? The trickery, convincing and games fuck a child’s mind.
Is it the responsibility of a child to keep her/him self safe? That’s an awful lot of burden to shoulder. A tiny little girl. A Dr. offering “help” sprinkled with the nasty energy of blame– I should have done something, I should have stopped it, I should have protected myself and ultimately, I could have done something but I didn’t ………………. Today I would tell her that she’s got a lot of clean up to do on herself. Her nasty is showing. And that my little girl knows I’ll protect her.
Let’s do our inner work DO THE INNER WORK. So we all can be there for each other. Without our fear or anger or frustration or judgement coming at the person and overshadowing our HELP we intend to give. So we may hold each other/clients/patients in the way they truly deserve – in love, compassion and understanding. If nothing else, at the very least, validate how hard it must have been for that person to grow up in that atmosphere. So very powerful. Validate, listen.
Maybe some of this…”Wow, I’m so sorry. That must have been really hard for you. You must be so sad. What can I do to help you? You are so strong. You are doing amazing seeing all you’ve been through. Do you have someone to talk to/confide in? Would you like me to refer you to someone who knows more about this? You must have been so scared. Do you feel safe now?”