Tag: abuse

STORIES OF COURAGE & SURVIVAL– ABUSE — Women of Wisdom Series™

STORIES OF COURAGE & SURVIVAL– ABUSE — Women of Wisdom Series™

abuse
Audubon Socity

As part of The Women of Wisdom Series™, I am introducing three memoirs, each addressing the issue of abuse. Though the stories are different, the message is in many ways the same.  Each memoir sheds light on the impact of abuse on us and provides lessons in survival. The women describe their journeys from a place of strength and courage, characteristics they undoubtedly honed through their difficulties.

These women are people just like you and I and what I love about memoirs. Thanks to modern technology, and the increase of Indy Publishing, we are able to see into the lives of everyday people  It’s so exciting  that women are stepping up, one by one, and sharing their stories. They benefit from the telling, we benefit from the listening.

We all can learn from an author with a compelling story to tell. It doesn’t matter whether or not the book is worthy of a literary award. What matters is what we take away. Memoirs by women over fifty to speak to the courage, fortitude, persistence and enduring love, characteristics that the women of our time, and our generation, exhibit every day . These stories give me courage. The author’s endurance gives me hope. Memoirs help us make sense of our own lives.

Women have suffered enormous wounding at the hands of those who had power over them. I count myself among the survivors and like most women who carry scars, we continue to learn a little more each day how to thrive. Like Kelly Clarkson reminds us, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” … and I might add much, much wiser.

COMING NEXT WEDNESDAY: “Harvesting Wisdom” by author Joan Rough

[tweetthis]Throughout history women have been abused. It has not only made them stronger, but wiser.[/tweetthis]

 

abuseEVER FAITHFUL TO HIS LEAD:  My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse by Kathleen Pooler

Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse is a compelling read written by a strong and courageous woman. Pooler’s story drew me in from page one and held my attention to the end.  She paints a clear  picture of her life as a victim and the inherent quagmire of confusion, denial, hope, despair, anger, self-recrimination, and blame that naturally ensues.  Pooler never wallows in the angst of it all, rather draws her readers into her quest for understanding, truth and freedom from victim-hood.

Women who came of age in the fifties and sixties were taught to be obedient, faithful, caring, helpmates to their spouse – we were taught to be “ever faithful to his lead”. We also were growing day by day in self-awareness and learning to value ourselves as intelligent, creative, capable people.

Breaking free of abusive relationships became, during our generation, more possible and doable than ever before. Kathy Pooler is one such woman and tells her story, in a clear and steady style that co-mingles her challenges with her emerging understanding.

Pooler just touches on the role her roots of faith played in her emancipation.  I’m sure she will have much more to say about this in her next memoir, now in progress.

Connect with Kathleen Pooler.

 

abuse GHOST NO MORE: A True Story of Child Abuse and Rescue by Cee Cee James

Cee Cee James tells a heartbreaking story without a trace of self-pity. The account of her life as a child in a home without love will rock your world and renew your faith in the power of the human spirit to survive.

A little girl, desperate for her mother’s love, Cee Cee James brings us into the day-to-day world of the child victimized by a parent. We experience the workings of the child’s mind struggling to survive emotional and physical abuse.  James reveals through the lens of her story the sad truth that children will suffer enormous abuse at the hands of a parent and still strive to win acceptance, approval and most of all love – even when it is never, ever forthcoming.  It broke my heart to see this little girl take the tiniest hope and run with it, only to see it dashed against the rocks of a woman’s inability to love her child.

As difficult as this book was to read, I could not put it down. The life force in this little girl was so strong and fierce and carried me forward to the end.

MORE BOOKS BY CEE CEE JAMES

 

 

 

 

abuseCONFLICTED HEARTS: A Daughter’s Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt by D.G. Kaye

A girl’s relationship with her mother lasts a lifetime, but it is often not until we reach midlife that the complexity of a difficult connection comes into focus. What we come to believe about ourselves as adults through our interactions with our mother’s as children, is often not an accurate reflection of who we really are. This conflict, this inner disparity, either drives us toward disintegration or the truth.

D.G. Kaye took on this battle. In her book, Conflicted Hearts, she shares her story as she struggles to come to terms with her challenging and complex relationship with a mother she both loved and despised. It is a journey that all of us can relate to in one way or another. Kaye writes with honesty, candor, humor and courage as she peels back the layers and gains understanding and perspective. In the end we not only learn about the author, we learn about ourselves and may even come to see our own mother/daughter relationship a more clearly.

Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy this journey into one woman’s world. When you put down the book, you will feel as though you’ve gained a friend.

Connect with D.G. Kaye

 

 

 

 

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More Posts of Interest

You Are Not Broken

Mask of Perception – When Things Are Not As They Seem

We Are Not Broken – You Are Not Broken

We Are Not Broken – You Are Not Broken

We Are Not BrokenWelcome to Wisdom Wednesday

Feeling and believing that we are broken or don’t measure up in some way…that we are flawed…inadequate…and in need of fixing…is an illusion. You are not broken. Perfection is a fantasy.  As human beings we have the ability to see, to conceptualize, a more perfect something. It’s an ability that drives us to create and learn and explore. We’ve begun to use this ability to destroy ourselves.

I don’t believe we were born to exploit ourselves or each other, and yet, that is exactly the nature of the life in which we believe ourselves to be trapped. It’s no different from living in a cult. Our culture is a cult. Think of it. Think about how hard it is to go against the norm. We believe in many ways that we are powerless. We are powerless only insofar as we believe we have no choice.

It always comes down to the freedom of choice and seeing our choices clearly. To see them, we must begin to question. We must ask ourselves, and ask often, what do we value? Do our thoughts, beliefs and actions line up? Why do we choose to believe that we are less than?  Why do we choose to believe we need fixing? We are not broken.

 [tweetthis]When we are locked within an illusion, our choices are less visible to us, and we feel powerless. #abuse[/tweetthis]

You are not broken.

We are inundated by messages from a culture that needs us to believe that we are lacking. It wants you to believe you are broken and in need of what they are selling. To the degree that we are buying into what we are being told, we are allowing ourselves to be victimized by the culture we live in. The first step we can make as individuals is to begin to see the illusion, then we can exercise our choice.  Each time we choose to step outside of the illusion and refuse to buy into the mindset that we are lacking, the stronger we become. The stronger we become, the crazier the illusion appears, the easier it is to choose to believe we are not broken.

Life is not easy. In fact, it’s really, really hard sometimes, but one of the biggest deterrents to our sense of well-being is buying into and living within the illusion that we need to be fixed. We create more misery for ourselves by fighting with who and what we are, than any external event that comes into our lives. We are exhausted and without resources to cope with life’s misfortunes.  The mental gymnastics brought on by living within the illusion deplete us and create a life that feels unbearable. 

You are not broken. You, like the rest of us are on a journey of discovery, of learning and growing and exploring. If you are here you are probably on a journey that calls you to dig deeper and to explore what is most essential in life…what is most valuable…what is worth living and dying for. Life itself is the universe’s gift to us. It is up to us value it properly and stop believing that we are broken. 

COMING SOON!!

new eBook/workbook to guide you through the steps necessary to break free from this cycle of illusion and self-condemnation. Be sure to add your name to my mailing and/or stay connected on Facebook/Twitter.

 

 

 

Mask of Perception – When Things Aren’t What They Seem

Mask of Perception – When Things Aren’t What They Seem

the ask of perceptionWhat We Think Is True May not be True – Our Mask of Perception may be shielding us from the truth.

The other day I received a text from a friend. I read it through and responded. I was watching the news at the time, and not paying as close attention to the interaction as I might have done. It was an ordinary conversation among friends, the sharing of thoughts and ideas, concerns and the offering of support; not overly serious, but certainly not a casual how’s the weather conversation. We have them often. Something bothered me about the way things ended, but I didn’t think much of it at the time. I was tired and went to bed.

The next morning I pulled up the text exchange and read through it again. I wanted to make sure I got the conversation straight and see if my perception of what had taken place was different after a good night’s sleep. I was shocked to discover that I had missed an entire paragraph, and in that paragraph my friend had shared the news that her twenty-five year old daughter had checked herself into the hospital psych ward.  It was by far the most important paragraph in the entire exchange, and I had missed it! No wonder I was picking up vibes!

The blood drained from my face. The sudden awareness that I had been so intent upon composing my messages to her while half of my attention was elsewhere woke me up as if I’d been in a trance. The fact is, I had been. I had been in my world, in my perception of reality and only very marginally connected to hers. Texting is particularly prone to this pitfall, but we do it all the time, even when we are in a face to face conversation. 

I actually for a moment wondered if that paragraph had somehow come through later.  Ridiculous, right?  I re-read my words, now that I had the whole story, and was horrified to feel how insensitive, uncaring and self-centered they were.  I had never even responded to her primary concern. It was horrible. It was inexcusable. It was human. I am so very human. The older I get the more I do my best not to expect otherwise. This breach of attention had cost something I value deeply, my friends feelings. 

I quickly texted an apology to my friend. I would have called by I knew she would not be available to answer the phone. I expressed my real concern for her son and compassion for her heartbreak as her Mom. She is a forgiving person and didn’t hesitate to accept my apology, but I can’t help but wonder how long the sting of my apparent indifference will linger in her mind. I know it will stay with me and I will be more attentive when texting and in all interpersonal communications in the future. I will continue to question my perceptions, trust my intuition and to work at being more fully present with those with whom I come in contact. 

PERCEPTION

The exchange with my friend is a perfect example of how our perceptions influence our understanding of others.  Our perception of their viewpoint and our understanding of their words passes through the filters we have in place. Those things that mask and alter our perception of reality may be simply things that we allow to distract our attention, but they can also be perceptual masks that have been in place since childhood.   We are unable to take in what is actually being said. Like the old telephone game we used to play as kids, the message is garbled by the time it is received.  It is these perceptual masks, those that we are unaware of, that do the most damage to our relationships.  

Perceptual masks that were put in place in childhood as a self-protective device are the hardest to remove. As we attempted to cope with hurts, slights, traumas and unresolved issues that we were ill-equipped to cope with, we put on blinders, built walls around ourselves and re-created reality. The most insidious masks are the ones that we believe now to be “who we are”. Research has shown that victims of verbal abuse are often triggered by a single word, or an everyday occurrence. If, for example, a person’s father screamed at them throughout childhood,  “Why did you do such and such??!!!”, using a menacing and threatening tone of voice and getting in the child’s face. The attack always began with the word “why” and was followed by a verbal or physical lashing. Would it not be understandable that in adulthood, the word “why” would become a trigger word for this individual?  Later, the individual’s husband comes home from work and says, “honey, why did you leave the car on the street?” His reason for asking was simple. He was trying to be helpful. He wanted more information, to know whether or not his wife was going back out. He wanted to help her by putting the car back garage if she was going to be home for the evening. The “why” trigger word evoked an angry, accusatory response from his wife and she was drawn into the grip of a defensive rage. A kind gesture offer turned into a nightmare of back and forth exchanges that went nowhere.

The experience where a trigger originates need not be to the level of abuse for it to be carried forward into present time re-activity.  It only needs to be a present moment situation that is similar to an emotionally charged past event. The first clue to a trigger is a reactive response. The minute our hackles go up and we feel anger, shame, or a desire to run and hide, chances are we have been triggered. Getting curious about our response and taking the time to stop see if we can discover the original experience helps us to dissipate its present day power over us.  It’s not easy, but it’s worth it, particularly in charged relationships.  The more we can stay fully present in each moment, the healthier and deeper our relationship to ourselves and others can become.

What my friend heard in my response was entirely different from the actual truth. While unpleasant, it was a valuable reminder for me and I hope of some use to you.

Quote by D Sander, the mask of perception

A Father’s Day Gift for the UnFathered

A Father’s Day Gift for the UnFathered

Father's DayFather’s Day is a day, created by a culture whose moral, ethical and spiritual foundation is a times questionable, and yet we are sucked in by it. How many of us are feeling guilt today because we don’t feel a generosity of spirit towards our fathers? Or, sad because our fathers were taken from us too soon? Or, a hole in our hearts because we did not have a father? Not everyone has a Hallmark Father’s Day. I would guess most do not, and yet, we feel somehow that there is something wrong with us when we experience negative feelings on this contrived holiday.

My father died fifteen years ago, but our relationship never got off the ground. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t experience discomfort from the lack of love in my early life. This emptiness, however, has been a gift to me. It has driven me deeper and deeper over the years into an exploration of the inner life; to a richer understanding of psychological and spiritual growth. I have more compassion for those in pain than I might otherwise have had, and a powerful desire to walk with those who suffer through their pain and toward the light.

Our discomfort in life is our signal to take a deeper look inside of ourselves. When we feel the nudge of anxiety, fear, sorrow, or depression, it is our cue that something needs attention. Although we are not meant to dwell in our discomfort, I do believe it is a useful tool for opening our wounds to the light of truth, and in doing so heal the past so that we might live more fully in the present. Our journey in life is to learn from our pain and discomfort and to set it free, in order to create space in our hearts for something better.

I have no real reason to feel sorry for myself because my father was emotionally absent. I know that now. If you feel uncomfortable with Father’s Day, and the memory or thoughts around your relationship with your father, be compassionate with yourself. Use your discomfort as an opportunity to go deeper, to grow in your understanding and acceptance of what was, and most importantly to find the real you, the ember of truth and wholeness that lives within you still. Each of us carries an ember within us of love and truth. It may be buried beneath years of hurt and despair, many of us have built walls a mile thick around it in an effort to protect ourselves from the pain, but it is still there. It will always be there. It is just waiting for us to remove the debris that covers it and blow on it gently until it erupts into a flame.

Replace your pain today with a prayer of gratitude because even in the midst of pain and sorrow there is eternal hope. It is our birthright.

One More Hour of Peace

One More Hour of Peace

c33ce167d791d319f9af4a186ee0272bOn the mend from dental work performed last week, I’ve been  feeling a bit blue and lethargic. The gloomy weather hasn’t helped a bit! This morning, after three days of antibiotics I felt just enough better to force myself into motion. It’s difficult to know for certain whether it’s better to rest, or to move. I decided it was time to find out, so I took off for a long walk with my eagerly awaiting companion. He too was long overdue for some sustained motion.

It was  absolutely the right move. Walking, even on misty, cold days restores my soul and adjusts my perspective on life. Breathing in the moist air fed more than my soul! It seemed to vacate the cobwebs in my breathing apparatus and fired up my imagination.

Our imagination is so essential to the healing process. It expands our world view and allows us to see beyond our pain and whatever it is that is plaguing us in the here and now. Trauma forces us into a dark cave. It shuts us off to possibility. As wounded individuals, the fear and pain that is too often our constant companion takes over our imagination and turns it into a manufacturer of worse case scenarios of the highest order.

In order to thrive after trauma, we must take control of our imagination and point it in the right direction. Those who suffer the most as a result of abuse and trauma may just be the ones with the most powerful imaginations! If this is so, and I believe that it is, then the future bodes well for them as well, as when they are able to unleash this power in a more promising direction, the joy will be as high as the pain was deep.

It is difficult to understand sometimes, particularly when we have had a life long habit of trauma induced negative thinking, that we can harness our thoughts and use them to pull us out of the darkness. While it is important to understand our trauma from a psychological perspective, to grow in self-esteem and self-love, it is equally important to begin practicing a different way of imagining every chance we get.

For example, I recently submitted a few articles for publication to an agent that admittedly was a bit above my “pay grade” – but one can dream, can’t one? To make a long story short I received a rejection letter.  I wasn’t surprised and yet it triggered a spiral of negative thinking. My monkey mind went to work on me…over time! Of course, it didn’t help that I was fighting an infection and  was physically  off my game, but the fact remains it all added up to my overactive imagination turning on me.

It is in these moments, precisely in the midst of a downward spiral, that we must learn to grab hold of our imagination by a force of will and yank ourselves back from the brink. It is a choice. It doesn’t feel like one, but it is.  The trick is to catch ourselves in the act and then break the cycle. The more we are able to do this, the better we will become at doing it, and ultimately the better control we will have on how our past trauma impacts our present lives.

Going for a walk this morning was just one more step in breaking the power that trauma and abuse still has on my life. My choice to walk not only changed but it also interrupted my thought flow, it opened me up to the powerful imagination stimulus of nature. that readily available gift that always reminds me of all that is life-giving and sustaining. It grounds me in a way that nothing else does. As I walk my thoughts go, out of habit, without effort I fall into a more receptive mode. I listened to the damp woods, the trees, the rocks, the rushing stream and was able to take in their message, their gift, their strength. I was able to reconnect with my own positive imagination and I returned home renewed and restored, one more battle won, one more fear conquered, one more hour of peace.

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How Long Does It Take A Wound to Heal

How Long Does It Take A Wound to Heal

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth 1948 The Museum of Modern Art, NYC
Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth 1948 The Museum of Modern Art, NYC

The wounds of childhood run deep. They run broad and wide and fester when they do not experience the light of understanding, of compassion, of acknowledgement, of love. Tears may be shed, cries and protests may erupt in the moments during or following an injury, but when unattended, the wound is covered up with ignorance, indifference or cruelty. The injury  is ignored as if it doesn’t exist, as if it never happened. The sands of time, layer upon layer, muffle the sound of the heartbreak, cause the bleeding to disappear from sight, but healing cannot occur. The bleeding and heartbreak continue on out of sight, underneath a layer of scar tissue.

I received a laceration to my hand in an accident, now four years ago, that has a left a scar. Shards of glass from the window beside me, the window I instinctively pressed my hand and arm against to brace myself as the car rolled…and rolled…sliced the tendon between my pinky and ring finger as it shattered against me on impact. Once the car came to a standstill and I found a small portion of my senses I knew I had suffered a serious injury to my hand though I could see nothing but blood. Somehow I knew that beneath the blood my fingers had been rendered useless. I even thought I had lost my pinky. It was instinct, out of sight awareness that led me to this conclusion.

The surgeon craftsman in the trauma center repaired the damage to the best of his ability though he had to be creative with what was left of the sinewy tissue. He enjoyed the challenge. I was grateful for his confidence.  After two hours of surgery, it took twelve weeks of bi-weekly physical therapy and home treatment  to regain some use. It took better than a year for the pain to stop and two years for me to stop being aware of the discomfort of the minor malfunction. This wound, was a simple, fairly obvious wound to attend to and heal, in the overall scheme of things.

The deeper wounds, the ones that are out of sight and remain unattended, discounted by ourselves or overlooked by those who have the power and awareness to help us heal, do not receive the treatment they need, the support of a team of experts, the attention of skilled rehabilitation specialists. We are left to carry them by ourselves, live with them and to attend to them in whatever way we can.

The accident left me with a TBI and PTSD. Both were not diagnosed or attended to in my post-accident medical treatment and it wasn’t until my hand began to heal that it came to my attention that I had been crippled in a far more significant way by the accident. I had not lost my finger but I had lost my life as I knew it,  my sense of security, my ability to trust myself or the world around me. I could not think. I could not remember things for five minutes. I could not plan or execute. I could not leave the house.

In that car, that day, I had been a sitting duck. I was a passenger in the car. I had no control over any part of my life. I was a victim just waiting to be victimized again. And, I was. Thank God. In spite of the pain and anguish I experienced during the years since, it does not compare to the anguish I suffered for a lifetime prior as I lived with buried wounds day in and day out, fighting depression, anxiety, self-doubt, deep, deep despair, fear, insecurity, uncertainty, failure, failure, failure. That accident shook everything loose in one fell swoop. I was turned inside out and upside down, literally and figuratively, my insides poured on the sidewalk to be picked through and inspected.

One by one, piece by piece, bit by bit, day by day I sort through and heal, sort through and heal. If the truth were told I’m still afraid to let go of the deepest numbness that replaced feelings too intense to hold, too lethal to bear. Yet, I know this is the only way to continue healing. One must open up the wound, must shower it with attention, understanding, and above all love, allowing tears to flow, anger to surge so that healing can take place. If we keep the lid on it, it we keep the bandage on the cut it is slower to heal and may never heal at all.

Ripping off the bandage is painful. It is best done with another, with someone who loves us and who can hold space for us. It is not something that can or should be done alone. Allowing love in is part of the healing process. Allowing others to care for us, to hold us and touch our hearts again is what we all long for. It’s what we all require.

So, how long does it take a wound to heal? It takes as long as it takes, but it begins when we take notice of the wound and give it the attention it requires. The healing process moves forward each time we shine the light of truth, understanding, love, acceptance and forgiveness on our hurting places. It ends when we no longer think about it.