Over the past few years, I have come to understand I have lived an expendable life. Before you lecture me, I want to be clear that I don’t believe my life has been for nothing. I mean I have lived a life that was expendable to others. The people in my childhood saw me as a commodity. I was something to be used up and thrown away. This was a literal interpretation of my experiences. I was sold to others for the purpose of making money. I was completely expendable, even to the very people who were supposed to love me unconditionally.
This explains why I have spent my adult life trying to prove to others I was worth something. I have always wanted people to believe I mattered. And I have done almost anything to convince them of it.
In relationships, I have worked hard to matter to the other person. I have done whatever it took to keep them around. I have worked hard to provide everything they could possibly need. And it always ended the same way. I got angry and exhausted, while the other person grew tired of using me up. In the end, I became expendable once again.
In my parenting, I have hovered over my children. I had to make it clear that they needed me to protect them and care for them in every way. I wanted them to know how much I cared for them and I wasn’t sure how else to show it. Deep emotional connection wasn’t available to me, so I would take care of all their needs. Unfortunately, this left my children with anxiety and a lack of confidence about their own abilities. And honestly, it has taken tremendous effort to turn that around.
At work, I have gone above and beyond my duties in every job. I have worked so hard at times, I didn’t remember to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom. The more appreciation I got, the harder I worked. Because my inner parts related work in adulthood to school in childhood, this makes sense. School was the only part of my childhood where the rules made sense and I could succeed. So I poured everything into it. And I did the same with work. And while I did succeed on many levels, my bosses had a tendency to ask for more and more until I felt my only option was to leave the job. read more…
We live in a results-oriented society. And since we have learned to adapt to our surroundings, we often develop a mask that seems to be results-oriented. Just like society, we tend to become focused on living a life full of nice things and without noticeable pain. We learn when we veer from these goals, we are rejected. We hide the pain of our trauma deep within where nobody can see it. And we strive for the next best external thing that will make everything okay.
It is not surprising that the recovery world has followed suit. There are quick fixes everywhere. There are 6-week programs. And if 6 weeks isn’t enough to fix all your problems, there are 12 week programs that will surely do it. There is a pill for every possible symptom you could have. And if you have more than one symptom, that’s easy. Just take more than one pill. It doesn’t matter if they have been tested. As long as they work, that is what matters. And if medication isn’t your thing, that’s okay. You can find foods, supplements and special energy drinks that will fix you right up.
Sound familiar. I’m sure it does. I don’t know about you, but I have chased so many quick fixes. I have looked and looked for the panacea to end the pain, the thing that will finally make me feel good or normal. But they don’t work because they can’t. That isn’t how recovery works. Trauma isn’t healed with a quick fix so we can move on with our beautiful life waiting on the other side. Life is meant to be messy. We are meant to feel our emotions. We are meant to feel unsure and a bit lost (or a lot lost). We are mean to struggle. Life can be beautiful, but it is never easy.
When we believe in the quick fix, we get stuck in some beliefs that keep us in an extremely unhappy place. We might interpret this in three ways. read more…
As a survivor of childhood trauma, I have spent my life surrounded by “all or nothing” people. And unfortunately, it made me an “all of nothing” person. I have spent years undoing the belief systems that come from a childhood like mine, but sometimes it feels endless (or maybe that’s my “all or nothing thinking again). I have had to unravel beliefs like:
“Everything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
“Nobody will ever love me.”
“Everybody who is nice to me just wants something.”
And believe me, I am far from finished with the rewiring process. These beliefs still come up, but I am much more aware of them now. I know where they come from. I have seen the evidence. And I know how to question them now. I know they aren’t as true as I once thought.
As I deal with my latest inner part, the rebel runner, I am facing another aspect of the damage done by the people in my life. And this wasn’t the occasional experience by a random person. This was a consistent message from countless people which permeated my entire childhood. And that message was:
“If I make one mistake, I will be rejected, ridiculed, bullied and abandoned (in that order).” read more…
I am a fighter. I have spent my life fighting. I have heard the phrase “go with the flow” and I used to hate it. It reminded me of a jelly fish, sitting in the water doing nothing but stinging people and eating. It sounded lazy. I never got the point of the flow. Why do we exist if we are just flowing? That said I knew there was a good chance I was wrong. I had a deep sense I was looking at it wrong. And over the past ten years, I have been learning what it means to go with the flow. It doesn’t mean what I thought when I didn’t know how to do it. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t really know how to do it, but I am getting better.
There is no better example of going with the flow than how I have built my life coach business (or maybe how the flow built it). I have pushed hard. There is no doubt about it. I have had to push through countless obstacles, but to be fair, most of the obstacles were my own inner parts and their beliefs. And to overcome those, there is a willfulness required. But when it came to taking action, it wasn’t about fighting. It was about going in the direction I was pointed. And the flow was doing the pointing.
You may be wondering what I am talking about. Honestly, so many of us have not experienced the flow. Until recent years, I hadn’t. If I didn’t make it happen, it didn’t happen. I saw myself as the only one who was going to get me through this mess of a life. I assumed support was something that happened for others. How could there possibly be a flow for me? So today I will shine some light as to how I stopped fighting and started flowing. Today I will tell you about three people that flowed in to my life, three people who showed up just at the right time. read more…
Dear adult person who always does what she’s told,
This is your inner rebel speaking. Let me explain some things. You are playing with fire. You are getting too close with people. You are letting people in. Don’t you understand what that means? They will stomp all over you. When you try to do what you want and express who you are, they will be right there to insult you, ostracize you, treat you like a worthless piece of shit. Don’t you get it? It isn’t safe to let people in. It isn’t safe to commit to people. It isn’t safe to get excited about being with other people. You don’t know them. You don’t know what is in their heads. You don’t know their motivations. What’s going to happen when they figure out who you are? What’s going to happen when you stand up for yourself or speak your mind? Disaster. It is best to go it alone. It is best to avoid commitments to others. It is best to avoid closeness of any kind. Avoid the inevitable disaster. Be safe and walk through life on our own. I know what you want and you don’t need anyone to squelch it.
Sincerely, Your Inner Rebel
Dear irresponsible person who won’t listen to me,
This is your controller speaking. And for once, I agree with the inner rebel (although not for the same reason). It is best to play it safe. It is best to keep people at a distance. Keep life small. Keep life simple. If it isn’t complicated, bad things are less likely to happen. You really don’t know who to trust out there. Do what you need to do to make a living, but don’t connect with others outside of that. Why would you want to let anyone in? They might create chaos that you have to clean up. They might be unpredictable or mess up your schedule, your house, your life Let’s just sit at home and watch TV. If you feel like there are some emotions coming up, that’s fine. I have all sorts of ways to numb those out. I have been doing it for years.
Sincerely, Your Controller read more…
I have to admit something I am not proud of. I find myself having an inner temper tantrum this morning. It has to do with current events which I try hard to avoid on my blog, not because I don’t have opinions, but because I don’t want to trigger people more than usual. But this morning I am having a temper tantrum about the attacks on London. You may be thinking that is not something to be ashamed of and you would be right. We are all allowed to be angry as hell. But I am not proud because of the reason for my tantrum. It isn’t because I hate terrorism (even though I do). It isn’t because I hate the targeting of girls by evil men who justify hate with their beliefs (even though I do). It isn’t because I feel for the victims and their families (even though I do). It isn’t even because I have several clients who are dealing with triggers from these attacks (even though I do). It is for purely selfish reasons.
I am traveling to London soon. I won’t be there long. It is a a stop-over on the way to another city. But I will be there. It is the first time I am leaving the U.S. in 8 years and the first time I will be in London in 11 years. I have a special place in my heart for the “Land of the Eng”. I lived there for a while in my early years. And I miss it terribly. I have been excited for this trip for some time (and I still am). But the tantrum is bringing up all the old fears and beliefs. And it is hard to ignore.
“This is why you should never go anywhere.”
“Nothing will ever work out for you.”
“Everyone will think you are crazy and irresponsible if you go now.”
“You were stupid to think you could get away and have it be easy.”
But I never thought it would be easy. I hear my resistance loud and clear. My controller is sounding all the normal alarms about my selfishness and irresponsibility. My mean kid is screaming about my worthlessness. There is even the paranoia from karma kid. I knew that going on this trip, or any trip, would bring up the inner resistance for me to address, even embrace through writing. But this situation has certainly added to the intensity. And that intensity has awoken me to something very important. read more…
6 Popular Phrases Translated for Trauma Survivors
In this work, I have met people who have tried many healing modalities. Let’s face it. We are all looking for a way to feel better. We are tired of the physical, emotional and mental exhaustion coming from complex trauma. But there is a problem. Traditional self-help concepts were not written for us. In some cases, I am not sure who they were written for. And while they sound good on the surface, they can make us feel bad about ourselves, causing us to take on masks because the concepts seem out of our reach.
For this reason, I tend to stay away from the phrases that are used in main stream self-help. I don’t use them. I don’t want to confuse folks, and I certainly don’t want to trigger them. But I am going to say something a bit shocking right now. These phrases are right. Yes. I said it. The over-used, over-clichéd phrases are actually on to something. But they are being used in very simplified ways that will never bring deep healing to anyone, let alone trauma survivors. So today I am going to continue my tradition of translation by giving you my perspective on how these common self-help phrases are actually true. And before you yell at me, hear me out. There will be time to yell at me later.
“Positive thoughts will create positive manifestations. Think positive.” This statement can trigger the hell out of survivors. We immediately think, “If I could think positive, I would think positive, damn it!” What good is it going to do to think positive while swimming in negativity in the unconscious? The answer? Not much. But I interpret this a little differently. It isn’t about covering up negative thoughts with positive thoughts. It is about having a conversation with self. If our inner parts are responding to the world with negativity, we can answer them with something different.
“Don’t trust anyone.” “What if there were some trustworthy people in the world?”
“The world is a dangerous place so stay inside.” “What if there were some safe places to go?”
This is very difficult to do when we are enmeshed with our inner parts, but this is exactly how we re-wire the brain. Little by little, it makes a difference. read more…
I’ve had a rough couple of days. And honestly, this post is written for me mainly. But I hope you like it too. I hold many defenses, beliefs and manifestations from my trauma, but the most prominent has always been my anxiety. When I started this journey, my anxiety was the first thing my therapist noticed giving me the diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. My anxiety normally looks the same in my body. My hearts starts racing, it gets difficult to breathe and my manic mind chatter paralyzes me. It is very difficult to ground my way out of this feeling, but I am getting better at it.
Even though my anxiety might look the same each time, it comes from many sources. There are so many triggers for my anxiety, avoidance would never be an option. And I guess I know that, which is why I haven’t tried that approach, sort of. Maybe I never thought I tried that approach. But I think this week, I have to face the fact that I have tried that approach a bit. One of my biggest triggers for my anxiety is chaos and uncertainty. I have done a pretty good job of living a boring life.
I know it doesn’t seem that way on the outside. I am doing a lot of risky things for my business. Some are working. Some are not. But that is life with a business. My kids go to a great school where they do far more than sit in a classroom and that takes me out in to the world some too. I travel to give presentations on occasion. It all seems a bit exciting from a distance. But in reality, most of my days look the same. There is a schedule and we follow it. We eat our three meals, we go to school every day, I work the same hours, and honestly, most of my life happens at home.
But recently, I have been feeling the urge to get out of the house a bit more. I planned a trip to England and Scotland this summer. And this week, I decided to join a class field trip to a nature preserve along a bay in Virginia. It is gorgeous here. And it has moments of peace that are hard to find almost anywhere else. It is a big lodge. But there are 14 10-year-old children and 5 adults in this space. And they are spending their days in the wetlands, on the beaches and various other kinds of natural environments full of grime and muck. It is chaos on so many levels. On top of that, I can’t just drive my car out of here because they don’t allow public vehicle access. I have to be driven out when someone is available to do it. So now, I am trapped in chaos. Trigger central. read more…
The past few years have been very different from the life I used to live. This may come as no surprise based on the amount of inner work I have done. It has a tendency to change the external in subtle (yet substantial) ways until one day we wake up from an afternoon nap and realize everything is different. And my life has been no exception to that rule. Unlike the people on dating sites who say they don’t want drama and really do, I am really not interested in drama anymore. It used to help distract me from my pain and fill the emptiness. I needed excitement to get through my days and weeks of pain. So there was always something to keep my mind spinning and my pulse quickened.
Nowadays, there is almost nothing like that. My business has moments because working with clients in recovery is never without excitement as emotions and memories come and go. But that’s a different type of “drama”. It’s real and it’s meaningful and it’s actually accomplishing something (even though it doesn’t always feel like it). My children definitely provide drama in the form of temper tantrums and behavior “stuff”, but I know they are really good kids in the scheme of things. And when the adults in my life call me up with drama, it just doesn’t affect me like it used to. I can be supportive, but it doesn’t take over like it did. I never thought I would say this, but I don’t get worked up easily. And if you knew me in my twenties, that is something you never expected me to say (without laughing anyway).
My inner parts are torn about this new way of living. My freedom fighters would love to bring some of the drama back. They are bored. They want excitement in life, but I can tell they feel less inclined to use it for numbing out. My defenders are doing pretty good with it. They like calm. It feels safe and predictable. And my inner children seem happy with the state of things. There are no more abusive people to make them feel unsafe.
One of the most important reasons my life shifted was my decision to go “no contact” with the majority of my immediate family. This was an important decision for me and my children. It has provided a safe and drama-free environment for me to heal. And I desperately needed that because healing is hard. It takes every ounce of inner strength and if we are using that strength to deal with abusive behavior, we can’t heal. Over the years, I have become used to living without them. My holidays are good now. I am happy with the small family and community I spend time with. I don’t need the old traditions. I can make new ones. Even my love seeker and karma kid are on board with the decision now (although it took a ton of work). read more…
I have been discovering and learning about my inner landscape for a while now. And I have learned some key aspects to this process of recovery that must be understood. If they are not understood, we will not be able to accept this work. As a matter of a fact, we will be miserable. What are those facts?
- Your understanding of your narrative is going to shift constantly.
- Your understanding of self is going to shift constantly.
- There is no definitive truth. Nothing is as it seems.
- As you change, people will think you are crazy.
- The changes will drive you crazy.
When I started my blog, I understood this on an intuitive level. I may have even understood it on a conscious level but hoped I was wrong. I knew the information I would be providing might shift and change over time. And it definitely has. My own personal journey has constantly informed my writings and my work with clients. With all that said, my revelation this morning should come as no surprise. But of course, it does.
For the past few months, I have been discovering new parts. This isn’t surprising. I discover new parts, new beliefs, new memories, and new buried emotions all the time. I am an excavator. It is what I do. I embrace curiosity so much that if I was a cat, I would be dead. But when I woke up this morning, I had a word in my head and it was screaming at me. read more…
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