Finding Balance in Family

Finding Balance in Family

One of the most important and difficult aspects of recovery work is finding balance in our lives.  During our traumatic experiences, our inner parts split off in an attempt to keep us safe.  In doing so, they stored their childlike beliefs until they had the opportunity to heal from their past experiences.  And these beliefs consider the world from a black and white perspective.  It is not a balanced view.  But in healing, we can find that balance.  Not surprisingly, it takes time and patience to get there. While we need to find balance in every aspect of our lives, one of the most significant is how we view our family.  I have heard from most survivors that they struggle to let go of their family.  We usually have at least one part who feels an inextricable connection to them.  This part is tied to them through blood, DNA and traumatic experiences.  All these things can create a contract with those who treat us horribly.  Strings are attached and they are hard to cut. But that is only one side of the pendulum swing.  Within us, we also hold that inner part who despises the family.  And while that anger is not misplaced, that same anger may also be aimed at the self.  “If the family is bad, so am I.”  “If the family is capable of horrible abuse, so am I.”  And on some level, that may be true.  All people are capable of both good and bad.  But it is our choices that make the difference.  We aren’t born with an unfulfilled destiny to commit evil written on our cells.  We make that...
It Is Best To Go It Alone

It Is Best To Go It Alone

For the past several years, I have been on a journey to heal my trauma.  And not surprisingly, it hasn’t been easy.  I have discovered countless belief systems holding me back from the life I want to live.  I have expressed more emotions than one body should be capable of holding.  I have written my forgotten childhood in hundreds of pages of documented recovered memories.  As a part of my coaching business, I have spent hours on the phone with other survivors helping them to learn the same techniques I have learned.  I have never felt lonely or bored or without purpose.  On the contrary, I have sometimes felt that my life was hurtling out of control and I couldn’t stop it if I wanted to.  (I didn’t want to though.)  With all the beliefs I have left behind, there has been one nagging, unresolved feeling. I have had NO desire for a social life.  I just haven’t really seemed to care about it much.  Don’t get me wrong.  I haven’t felt isolated either.  My children are always around.  I interact with the parents from my children’s school.  I talk with clients all day long.  I even go to parties sometimes.  And when I am around people, I have been known to NEVER EVER shut up.  I know you are not shocked about that.  But when I am considering what to do with my free time, the desire to be alone wins almost every time.  My extreme extroversion is barely noticeable.  And honestly, when it comes to intimate relationships, there has been absolutely no interest. While the later may...
The Other Side of the Rules

The Other Side of the Rules

When I was growing up, the rules didn’t make any sense.  I didn’t know this was part of the plan.  I thought there was something wrong with me.  I thought I just hadn’t figured them out yet.  I thought the adults knew the rules and I was too young, too stupid or too inadequate to know them.  I always felt like I was really close to ending the chaos and abuse.  I needed a little longer, a little more information and I would be able to follow the rules.  Everything would be better then. But that was a defense mechanism.  In reality, there were no rules.  The only rule was there were no rules.  If I figured out a rule, it would change the next week, so it no longer applied.  This was a part of the control.  This was a part of the manipulation and gas-lighting.  I was supposed to remain confused and disoriented.  But I didn’t know that. I looked for ways I could figure out the rules.  How can I live with less chaos and confusion?  There must be a way.  One of the places I found rules that made sense was in school.  I thrived in the school environment (despite my intense dissociation which certainly made learning more challenging).  I loved the rules.  I thrived because I always knew what I had to do and when to do it.  I could fight through my traumatic responses and meet the deadlines and the requirements to excel.  It was the only place that felt safe.  I knew what to expect and when to expect it. The black...
Commit to You

Commit to You

During the past few weeks, I have experienced several instances of “social commitments gone wrong”.  Plans I made with others fell through (or almost did) and it wasn’t because of me.  And based on my reaction, I can sense that at least one inner part isn’t handling it well.  I have been unusually upset.  I can hear the angry rants bubbling up to the surface.  And of course to some extent, it’s valid.  People should honor their commitments.  But I also know this comes from my past experiences. I was not a priority in my family. I felt that in every way.  Nobody cared how I felt or what my experiences were.  If something more important came up (and almost everything was more important), it took the top spot.  It rarely mattered what I had going on.  I learned to fend for myself.  I learned that if something mattered to me, I better ensure it would happen on my own.  To this day, that belief affects my isolator part and it manifests as rigid independence. My childhood was chaos. Things were always changing.  My very dissociative parents would make plans and forget they made them.  Their addictive behaviors would send them in unhealthy directions at the drop of a hat.  And this kind of change was not the “flow with the universe” kind of change.  It was dangerous change that generally has some kind of new trauma associated with it. I didn’t feel worthy of friends. This message was reinforced everyday by abusers inside and outside my family.  I was sure that friends were only around for a short...
Come Back to Your Truth

Come Back to Your Truth

If there is one thing I have seen as a common thread to a childhood of trauma, it is the invalidation of everything we believe to be true.  Our needs aren’t validated or met.  Our emotions are not validated.  They are touted as problematic.  Our memories are not validated.  Often we are told we are making things up.  And our narratives are not validated, leading to a defensive creation of a false reality just to get through childhood. And if there is one thing that is hardest in recovery, it is learning to validate ourselves.  We usually come to the recovery process with no sense of self.  We don’t know how to trust ourselves or how we feel and we aren’t sure how to get there.  We may get flashbacks and excuse them away as made-up.  We may start to feel an emotion and hear that voice telling us not to be ridiculous.  It is a pattern set deep in our psyches and we are not going to overcome it easily. But as I have become aware of my inner parts, I have learned one very important thing.  My parts are telling the truth.  It isn’t just their memories that are true, but their emotions and beliefs are completely evidence-based.  When I allow my inner parts to feel and to share where those feelings are coming from, they are valid and justified. You may be thinking that can’t be true.  When you are walking down the street and are suddenly in a panic, it is not a valid response.  And from that standpoint, you would be right.  But your...