Oil and Water

Oil and Water

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. But there’s a problem. While I am committed to the recovery process, I have not figured out how to balance it with my parenting responsibilities. The two don’t mix well. As a matter of a fact, they mix horribly. While my recovery efforts are pulling me in one direction for self-care, my parenting efforts are pulling me in another. And of course, self-care and parenting are hard to balance. When I am feeling like another touch on my skin will feel like a knife has been plunged in to my body, my son will...
Let’s Journey Together

Let’s Journey Together

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. And it is easy to ignore it. We have been taught from a young age that we need to wear our masks. Our masks will protect us from others who won’t understand our reality, or worse, will blame us for it. Our masks will keep us safe from judgment and safe from our abusers who don’t want us to tell the secret. And dissociation helps with that. We can take all that abuse and shove it in a nice little corner of our minds. We can continue to live our lives with the emotional and physical ramifications of our unprocessed abuse, which seem so much easier than...
It Must Be My Fault

It Must Be My Fault

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. When I ended relationships with people in the past, I spent weeks or months attributing every negative experience in my life to the pain I caused that individual. Many of these relationships were abusive, and yet, I was not allowed to make the best choice for me. I was not allowed to be so selfish. On an unconscious level, I saw it necessary to experience punishment for the act of standing up for myself. This continues today. When I make a parenting mistake, which happens more often than not, I believe I deserve to be treated poorly because I am a bad parent. When I say one wrong thing, I assume people will never...