Children have opinions. This is not a surprising statement for anyone who has raised a child past the age of 18 months. Children know what they want and they expect to get it. If they don’t get it, they will let you know their disappointment. Of course, this can be the hard part for parents. Words like “unfair”, “worst mother ever” and “I hate you” may be used at will. As parents, it is our job to remain calm, which is very difficult with or without a trauma background.
During my eight years as a parent, I have learned that children live in a black and white world. All dragons are bad. All candy is good. Every day is the best day ever, unless one little (very little) thing goes wrong. Then, it is the worst day ever. Every person wearing white is a good guy. Every person wearing black is a bad guy. You get my point. There is no grey area. Some ideas don’t register. The concept that people are both bad and good is particularly challenging. As is the concept that loving another person might mean walking away from them. Continue reading
When I write and speak about child sex trafficking and abuse, I am encouraged by the support from most people who hear my story or read my blog. Most people understand that children are victims and do not have the power to stop the abuse that is controlling their lives. Most people understand that the brainwashing and shame transference in these situations runs very deep and can keep a child victim from speaking up for many years, or at all. Most people understand that children are afraid in these abusive environments. And I am grateful for this.
But during the past two weeks, I have been discouraged and disappointed by the victim-blaming associated with three different attacks on adult women, some of whom were rich and famous adult women. The difference in our support of child victims compared with adult victims of abusive behavior continues to perpetuate a culture of oppression in which victim-blaming is acceptable. Continue reading
I love vacations. I know this is not a particularly startling revelation. But I think that I like them more than the average person.
I have perfected my escape-artist defense mechanism and there is nothing better than physically leaving home to appease an escape artist. If I did not have children, I would probably take a traveling job. That way, I would always be somewhere new. Nobody could ever find me. I wouldn’t even be able to find myself.
That being said, I am completely aware that “I cannot run from myself”. I tried before I started recovery, but it never worked. Now that I have miraculously lived in the same city for 20 years, vacations are my way of escaping for a week. And I usually need it. Continue reading
Do you ever have those days? When your skin hurts? When a cocoon of blankets is the only place that will provide an ounce of comfort? When no physical touch, no matter how well-meaning, can soothe the inner turmoil? When the idea of a meaningful embrace actually invokes nausea? Do you have those days?
I hope your answer is no. But if you are an abuse survivor, the question is rhetorical. Those days are inevitable.
For me, those days come when I am processing my past trauma. Usually a memory is looming on the horizon, waiting to bless me with additional knowledge about my childhood. I am generally happy to receive the information. I am happy that my inner-child is willing to trust enough to share one more piece of the puzzle. The physical pain is worth it if I can understand just a little more of the trauma I am carrying. The emotions are tough, but if I can compartmentalize them from my current life, they can be tolerated for the sake of recovery. Continue reading
To My Survivor Friends,
We talk often about how our recovery partners, friends and family may not always say the right thing. We know they mean well, but it is difficult for them to understand our painful situation. They may trigger us with what appears to be invalidating or dismissive comments.
“If you just forgive, everything will be better.”
“Maybe you should just forget about the past and move on. It happened a long time ago.”
“Everyone is dealing with pain in their life.”
Even with these setbacks, you keep moving forward in recovery. And I am so proud of you for the work that you do. I personally know how hard it is to do this work every day. The emotional processing is devastating. The physical processing can be debilitating. We are left moving through the world with about half the energy and physical ability of a non-traumatized person, and that is on a good day. I get it. It sucks. Continue reading
When I was a child, I was told that everything was my fault. Eventually, I believed it. In reality, none of it was my fault. As an adult in recovery, I intellectually understand that now. But my unconscious parts are still working that out. My unconscious parts are still trying to make sense of the illogical.
I have struggled with self-worth my entire life. While I don’t see myself as capable of doing good things, I do see myself as powerful at manifesting the bad. More than likely, this comes from my understanding of the abusive adults in my childhood. I felt the same way about them. And I internalized that.
So, when bad things happen in my life, as they inevitably do, my overactive brain finds a way to make it my fault. I find a way to make it punishment for something I did or for who I am. And this happens unconsciously. Continue reading
To my children as we start our family tree,
I cannot begin to describe the impact you have on my life. You are the blessings sent from the divine to wake me up. You are the little life tornadoes who never let me choose the easy way out of the pain. You are the epitome of forgiveness as I made mistake after mistake as a parent. You are the comic relief that comes just when I need it. And you are the reminder of how important the small, daily life events really are.
I have been hoping for a savior since I was born. I even found myself enmeshed with several people throughout the years who I thought might make things right. But of course, they didn’t. They didn’t make things right because the only person who could do that was me. And as I look back over the past seven years, I realize that I may have been responsible for my life, but I had help. I had two little saviors who came to help me figure it out.
You haven’t heard of parental guilt because you are only seven years old. When you asked me to tell you the hardest thing in the world, I wasn’t kidding when I said ‘raising children”. You laughed and said “no way”, but one day, you might be lucky enough to understand. And I do feel guilty for the bad days, the bad decisions. So today, I am going to apologize for the parts that haven’t gone the way I hoped. But I also want you to understand that I know I did so many things right. Parenting is dualistic like that. It is never easy. And it is never black and white. It’s just worth it. Continue reading