Let Love Lead

To my dear, beloved, crushed self,

I love you, and I marvel that you know this.  I am so grateful you have the capacity to know this, and to hang onto this unconditional Love, no matter what else you experience, think, or feel.  Loving, being loved, holding faith in love, this is the most important thing in Being.  W/out this firm, unshakable Love, no other Good thing is possible; no other Good thing can endure outside of Love.

So you must also know that you — your true, core, enduring Self will eventually have to let go of everything but Love.

I know you are very angry about some wounds and injustices done to you.  And I fully recognize the validity of your anger.  I too am angry that you (that I) weren’t (wasn’t) perfectly protected throughout your childhood and youth.  And I don’t offer any excuses for those who hurt you or failed to protect you.  But I do offer you a larger reality.

It’s not just a “different” perspective.  This “larger” Reality is simply that Love — this Love you abide in — this Love that sustains you — this Love can empower you to let go of hatred, hateful feelings, to let go of a desire for a version of justice that condemns and punishes those who hurt you.

I don’t know HOW God — the Source of Love — will make things “right” eventually.  I don’t know what “right” would look like.  But I do know that God (Love) can and does use EVERYTHING for Good, and for OUR GOOD.  And here’s the thing that’s most important for you right now:  The way to get from here to there is to focus on Love, on how Love makes Good things possible, how Love has sustained you, and how Love is growing you.

The lie that creeps in when we hurt is that we have to FIX the hurt or we can’t Be who we really are.  The truth is we can be wounded and break in all kinds of ways and still Be our Sacred Self.

Are you more attached to some idea of a “flawless” self than you love your Sacred Self?

I know wounds must be tended, but you’ve already done that and are doing that.  But that’s not enough.  And you know it.  That’s why you struggle so much.  What you need is to STRENGTHEN your core-self; feed your Sacred Self.  She is so much more than these wounds and scars and memories that drag you down.

I know you know that when you Be more fully You, you will still have your scars, but they are so small in comparison to you, your Sacred-Self.  And they don’t have to be eliminated for you to Be.

“I am with you always,” ~ I-Am/Abba/Jesus/Espiritu  (and you live in I-Am.  So live, grow, abide in Love.)

Jesu juva; soli Deo gloria.

Love,

Your Heart

ps-

Maybe tomorrow we’ll talk in more detail of how to do this, but for today, simply abide in Love.  Think Love, feel Love, give Love, enjoy Love; make room for Love and let it fill your Being; Be Love.

Advertisements

Abuse is the Abuser’s Fault

woman carrying girl while showing smile
Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Step 5.

I keep getting stuck on step 5.

But today I have a headache and all my joints hurt and my stomach is on the verge of conniptions.  I know all these distresses are from avoiding externalizing the truth of what I experienced and how I really feel about it.

  1. It really was the abuser’s fault.  It wasn’t my fault he crossed boundaries.  It wasn’t my fault he sexualized me, he took advantage of me sexually when what I needed was a proper teacher who would challenge my gift but not violate my vulnerabilities.
  2. It really was BB’s fault he violated me sexually and psychologically.
  3. Today, right now, the thing that hurts me terribly is that he kept saying “I won’t do anything you don’t really want me to” while he kept gradually advancing each stage of violation.
  4. I hate even talking about this.  I hate the shame it conjures up.  I hate him.  I hate myself for hating.  I hate the school that harbored him.  I hate the church that took him in and treated me like an adulteress.  I hate the larger community that was so god-damned stupid.  I would like to damn to hell all that stupidity, and faux-blind facilitation.  I hate all the adults who at the time did nothing to stop him or protect me from him.  I also hate my parents’ original naivete.
  5. Why don’t I hate my parents?  Why don’t I hold them to the same standard as other adults?  A) Because I have, and I processed all that with them, and they were sorry & mourned & repented & asked forgiveness.  Also because they shared with me more of their story of what-all they tried to do at the time.  Do I feel shame that they were incompetent?  Not really.  But I do believe their being pacifists handicapped them.  I think they would have fought harder if they weren’t so immersed in 100% pacifist-mentality.
  6. There’s so much I want to someday tell about what they told me.  But for today, I want to shout out loud: It was BB’s fault that he did what he did to me.
  7. Now, what can I do about that?  I don’t know.  I still don’t know.  And that torments me too.  But when I think of how young I was when he started grooming me… yuck!
  8. And when I think of how I started cutting myself… yet I was so good at taking care of myself – to hide it – I knew good sterile technique…  Yet, I showed him what I was doing. But he didn’t do anything for me…  When I think about how much I went through so entirely alone…  It makes me so very profoundly sad.
  9. God! I love my younger self!  Thank You, God, that I am still alive to know at least that!
  10. I made a couple of near-attempts at suicide and one real attempt.  I survived.  I credit God for that.  Thank You, God!
  11. I also credit myself.  I think I have an incredibly strong will to live.
  12. I am proud of my will to live.
  13. Yes! I am very proud of my will to live.  It is a very good thing to have a core self that wants to live no matter how painfully I might experience living.
  14. My joints don’t hurt now.  My stomach is calm.  My head-ache is receding.
  15. But I want to get even further than this point.
  16. Maybe rather than rush to the next thought of “what should I do about this?” I need to simply celebrate the goodness of being, the goodness of my being.
  17. What’s wrong with figuring out what I should do about all this?  First of all, the “should.”  No adult did a damn thing to protect me when I needed it most, yet now there’s a “should” for me?  “Do about this”? The main thing to DO is to VALUE MYSELF!  And if that’s not enough for the world, then that’s really too bad for the world, and to hell with anyone who can’t understand that.  The first priority for every person is to know, value, and treasure their own immeasurable value/ worth/ uniquely-special-gifted sacredness.  Amen!
  18. So, even if anyone doesn’t progress “beyond” valuing their own sacredness, that’s okay.  I believe that’s okay because when people get in touch with their own immutable sacredness, they inherently realize all persons are sacred.  I liken it to musicians practicing in their practice rooms.  Even if no-one ever played ensembles, there would still be a lot of beautiful music happening and no-one harming anyone else.  Just like in the Hippocratic Oath that says “First, do no harm.” I would preface it with: “First and always revere one’s own sacred nature.”
  19. Okay, so today I am holding myself, and holding the joy of knowing I survived.  And beyond simply surviving I found again my core-self who knows she is sacred.  Praise be Jesus!
  20. Here’s a link to ASCA Step 5: http://www.ascasupport.org/_html_manuals/survivortothriver/indexSurvivorManual.html  And to the questions that follow: http://www.ascasupport.org/_html_manuals/survivortothriver/indexSurvivorManual.html
  21. I’m not ready to do the questions, but at least I’ve made my self-affirmation.
  22. Glory, hallelujah.

 

dawn sunset beach woman
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Calming Crashing Waves

IMG_20151103_160443052.jpg

Some days a deep-seated anxiety floods over me and is nearly unbearable.  It’s not the worst anxiety I’ve felt.  On a scale of 1 to 10 I’ve felt 100 at my worst, long ago.  In other words, I don’t think the people who thought up measuring anxiety on a scale of 1 to 10 have experienced severe anxiety.  The scale really should be something like 2, 40, 800, 16000, 320000, etc.; or factors of 10 if you like, except the increments don’t feel contiguous; they feel like quantum leaps outward from a solid center…  And they don’t progress in an always predictable fashion…  When I was much younger, I experienced the outer regions of unbearable — like, death would be better.  I haven’t experienced that level of depression mixed with anxiety, combusting into complete despair for 30+ years, thanks be to God and therapy!

But today I have felt much more uncomfortable than I’d like to accept possible, for me, for now.  So, again, as I’ve been doing more and more since I discovered it, I used the PTSD management tool.  The first tool suggested was looking at a picture that calms me.  The app brought up a pic I had selected when I initially set up my account.  It was of an ocean rock from the shore at Cohasset.  I felt an immediate melting inside of me like space suddenly grew where I could breathe.  But I chose another tool.  This time the app suggested music, so I put on my ocean ambiance app.  Better.  But I wanted more resolution, so I asked for a third tool.  The app led me through a muscle tension and relaxation exercise.  It took about eight minutes.  Not much time, but it helped a lot.

I’m posting this here to remind myself how helpful this app is, and to encourage others who might suffer from overwhelming anxiety.  The app is called PTSD Coach and I found it on the Play Store (Google apps for android).  It was created for war veterans who suffer from PTSD, but it’s free to anyone.

I also want to note here how helpful ocean waves and rocks are for me.  Hearing the ocean waves, thinking of being near the ocean, holding in my mind that the ocean is there whether I’m with it or not, all of that soothes me.  I don’t know why.  Probably for many of the reasons many other people find it soothing.  I think, for me, today, two things are powerfully helpful: one, the rhythm of the waves helps me breathe; and two, the vastness of the ocean somehow reassures me, calms me.  I think I like that it’s not only vast but also that it’s mostly beyond human control.  I like that there’s so much surface.  I like that there’s so much sky above it.  I like that it’s so deep yet approaches shorelines – that there are varying depths that undulate.  I like that it’s so many blues and greens.

Rocks.  What is it with rocks?  Maybe it’s all the things “opposite” of how I sense, perceive and relate with the ocean?  The rocks I like most are those that are tumbled and washed up on rocky shorelines, especially those of the Atlantic.  They are dense, heavy, yet I can hold them in my hand.  They are usually shades of blue-gray, very dark when dry, but surprisingly colorful when wet.  I like that there are so many of them.  I like that there are surprising things amongst them.  Mostly I like that they are rounded and that they are heavy.

I like such different characteristics of the ocean and of rocks, and I especially like them together.  It’s really astounding how calming it is to think about these things.

I imagine I sound a bit weird writing down these thoughts for others to read, because, who does that?  Yet, I imagine many people have experiences of anxiety similar to mine, and many people find emotional and spiritual refreshment being near the ocean.  So maybe sharing these simple thoughts without shame and with unabashed gratitude will help someone else who needs to know others go through this.

Thank You, God, for the ocean!  And for rocks!  And for all senses, and memory, and for the capacity to heal.

 

Let Healing Happen

pigeon and seagull flying above body of water
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I just used a tool I found very helpful.  I want to write about it right away.

It’s called PTSD Coach.  It’s an app for smartphones.  This app included several services/functions. One of those functions is “Manage Symptoms.” Within that, there’s a menu of symptoms.  Within one of those is an exercise that guides the user through observing one’s feelings.

The particular exercise I found so helpful just now uses imagery of sitting by a river, watching leaves float by.  Having imagined each thought or feeling as it arises in my mind, I let it go by observing it float away.

Only, in my imagination, I imagined I was sitting on the beach where gentle ocean waves were lapping over me without engulfing me. As thoughts and feelings arose, I imagined gulls and dolphins coming to carry them away.  It was quite lovely.  I could hear all the sounds and feel the sensations of the seaside scene.

The best part was what happened in my imagination after I was empty of passing thoughts and feelings.  But I won’t share that with you here.  I simply want to encourage you to engage in helpful exercises like this one, and let the healing happen.

PBJ!

photography of body of water
Photo by Guillaume Meurice on Pexels.com

Awesome Affirmations

backlit clouds dawn dusk
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’m working through ASCA’s “Survivor to Thriver” Chapter Four, “Remembering” 

Step One: Breath and Affirm!

When I adopt or write affirmations for myself, I like to try to compose them as short mantras so that I can integrate the thought into my breathing.  An ancient prayer that does this is “Jesu juva; soli Deo gloria.”  I pray “Jesu juva” as I inhale, and “soli Deo gloria” exhaling.  I fill myself with Christ’s Grace, and I hope to live humbly giving God glory.  The essential meaning/ thought/ feeling is that I am gratefully yielding all of me to Christ, fully trusting Abba-Christ-Spirit holds me, and is birthing me into who I am meant to be.

Here are a few of my affirmations specific to being a survivor, becoming a thriver:

  1. It is Good that I exist; I celebrate my Being!
  2. God loves me, and so do I!
  3. My broken-ness doesn’t mean I am damaged; I am healing and becoming whole.
  4. I let Grace flow in as I let go of what I don’t need.
  5. I don’t need to be perfect; I only need to continue healing and growing.
  6. I am not a thing for others’ pleasure; I am a Sacred Person who can share blessing.

I found these from the Audacious Life helpful as well.

Here is a list of affirmations I composed to help me let go of things.

If you’ve found/ made a list of affirmations you’ve found effective, feel free to leave links in comments to this post! Thanks!

 

Take The Next Step

adventure alps backpack backpacker
Photo by Krivec Ales on Pexels.com

Chapter 3 Conclusion
Reading the information in this chapter may have stirred up many feelings in you.

Yes! Terrible feelings!  Stomach-ache and head-ache inducing feelings!!!

Recognizing that child abuse may continue to impact you past your childhood is a necessary step in your recovery. The tendency to sabotage yourself in various aspects of your life does not mean that you are a bad person; it means that you are a wounded person. Identifying the wounds and acknowledging the difficulties that grow out of them is an essential part of healing. Facing the anger that you have turned against yourself (and possibly against others) represents a cleansing of these wounds. As with the treatment of any wound physical or psychic the process will cause some pain. This may lead you to question whether the process of recovery is really good for you. Because you have become so used to pain in all of its myriad forms for so many years, you may wonder whether recovery can have positive effects.

I found the above paragraph so helpful I wanted to share this whole conclusion.  Going through Chapter 3 of “Survivor to Thriver” is extremely difficult!  But to anyone using this workbook, I encourage you to PUSH THROUGH!

When these doubts begin to surface, remember that you have survived the torment as a child, and that this is the worst part of the abuse.

You’ve already survived the worst.  Remember that.  You ARE a survivor.  You can become more and more of a thriver, but you already are a survivor!

As an adult, you have new capabilities, new choices and a great deal more control over your life. Be open to new understandings of what you experienced. Allow yourself to draw inspiration from the positive elements in your life: your friends who support your recovery, empathetic family members, your children (if you have them), your spouse or lover who accepts you as a special person or your therapist, who is committed to helping you find your true self. There are many people like you who came back from total despair and confusion about their lives and recovered from their abuse. Others, such as your ASCA co-participants, are on the journey with you as well. We all can find our inner strengths and use them to turn our lives around.

Keep going.  Keep choosing life.  Keep choosing yourself.  Choose health, happiness, wholeness.  Take the next step.

Lend a Hand When You Can

couple holding hands love people
Photo by Life Of Pix on Pexels.com

Relationship Problems
Adult survivors often have a difficult time initiating, maintaining and enjoying relationships. Any kind of relationship… may be problematic.  Relationships for survivors may reflect the all-or-nothing syndrome… In some relationships, the survivor may assume a particular role and proceed to play out a replication of the past abuse.

“Relationships can be difficult because they call upon personal characteristics and emotional capabilities that are often new to adult survivors, such as

  • trust
  • assertiveness
  • intimacy
  • self-confidence
  • good communication skills
  • the ability to give and receive affection
  • self-awareness
  • empathy for others
  • acceptance of one’s own feelings
  • and needs.

Many adult survivors find their personal relationships characterized by

  • fighting
  • feeling misunderstood
  • projecting blame on each other
  • and feeling overwhelmed by powerful moods.

Frequently, adult survivors anticipate rejection or non-acceptance and protect themselves by withdrawing or by becoming overly aggressive. These behaviors and others are probably ones you adopted as a child to help defend yourself against the abuse, but they may not be productive or healthy in adult relationships. ”

The above quote is an excerpt from ASCA’s Survivor to Thriver On-line Manual. The list format is mine.

Personally what I struggle with most is trusting others.  When I was young I trusted everyone and too much – unconditionally.  After some progress in my healing process, I went through a stage where I trusted nearly no-one.  That, of course, is nearly as untenable as trusting too much.  However, I’m glad I went through that phase because it allows me to be more conscious and deliberate about who I now choose to trust.

I have found that discerning who I can trust, for what kinds of things, and how much, is a learning process that is surprisingly challenging and requires much resilience on my part.  I have to learn mostly from my mistakes because there simply isn’t a handy manual on how to go about this.  People can give advice, that may or may not be helpful, but ultimately what I’m learning is how to trust myself to discern who or what is trustworthy.  It is my own mind and heart that must create the wisdom which reveals what is healthiest for me.

While it’s possible, and I hope it’s true, most people who are not abused in their formative years learn from their parents’ model healthy ways to discern for themselves what is safe, who is trustworthy, and confidence in their own capacity to make these judgments.  But I believe that my experience is common to most ASCA.  The main thing we can do for one another is to forgive ourselves our mistakes, encourage one another to keep going, and to keep getting up any time we fall.

active activity adventure backpack
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com