See Me!

See Me!

I have been introduced to my second superior part over the past week.  Unlike my superior defender, this part is a rebel who wants to do her own thing.  At first, I found it a bit amusing to listen to her talk about how much better she is than everyone else.  But in this work, no feeling stays for long (especially the good ones).  This part is struggling.  She is struggling with so much futility.  She is struggling to find her way in a world that doesn’t acknowledge her.  She went through horrific neglect and abuse.  She was a child with great ideas who was never heard.  She wanted to be different, but knew the visibility was too dangerous.  And unfortunately, that is only part of her story. She grew up to be a woman in a “man’s career” and the pattern continued.  She was the one with soft skills who was given all the tasks nobody else wanted.  She was the one without the highly technical knowledge who had to prove herself by working harder and longer than the others.  She handled all the stuff they hated.  She struggled to be seen for the skills she really brought to the table.  She was just the token woman in technology who could make them look a bit better, a bit less misogynistic. And then, she became a survivor in an activist movement.  Let’s face it, almost everyone in activism is a survivor.  But she was an “outed” survivor.  And with that comes baggage.  It is not a decision to be made lightly.  Survivors are not given the same clout...
5 Strategies of Abusive Families with Adult Children

5 Strategies of Abusive Families with Adult Children

My recovery work has taught me that the original traumatic experiences are about 5% of the total problem.  Almost all children experience traumatic events, but if they have supportive parents, they can come to understand what they experienced and recover from it in healthy ways.  When the trauma is coming from our parents (or those who are closely tied to family), the trauma is horrible, but it is the manipulation and gaslighting which make recovery seem impossible.  The games played by enablers become impossible to reconcile.  And this doesn’t end when we become adults.  As a matter of a fact, the older we get, the more important it becomes for our family to keep us confused about our reality.  Lately, I have been thinking about how our families “up the ante” when we become independent adults.  And I came up with five examples to illustrate it for you. They deny the abuse.  That doesn’t sound surprising at all.  It may be so obvious that you are wondering why I wrote it.  But when we become adults, the denial shifts.  Don’t get me wrong, they still deny the trauma and call us crazy, but the denial develops nuances.  For example, they may add some more adult terms into the gaslighting.  They may start bringing up defamation of character or libel cases.  They may make sure you know about “false memory syndrome”.  They may point you to psychological and legal cases that support their denial tactics.  They will claim you have disorders you don’t have or blame it on traumas that occurred in your adulthood (which were usually a direct reflection...
The War Within

The War Within

One of the most frustrating aspects of trauma recovery is the constant feeling we are torn in multiple directions.  It renders decision-making almost impossible.  And it feels like we are crazy.  As a matter of a fact, many people believe that holding two opposing opinions simultaneously is not possible or is the basis for a psychological disorder.  Cognitive dissonance is often touted as a problem that needs to be solved.  But let me tell you a secret.  Everyone struggles with it. When I first discovered my own inner parts, it was amazing to me how many things suddenly made sense.  I could explain the unexplainable things in my life through the existence of inner parts.  As time went on, I discovered that my own inner parts had taken over at times (often referred to as switching).  This is also known as dissociative identity disorder (D.I.D.).  In my case, I had stopped switching by the time I discovered it.  But the presence of such a strong inner parts system has led me to deep understanding of my inner landscape.  So for that, I am grateful. But the presence of inner parts is not restricted to those with D.I.D. and severe complex trauma.  Everyone has parts.  The separation of parts of self is a natural response for children growing up in a traumatic world.  Everyone has had a traumatic response in childhood.  It is a given.  And these inner parts are responsible for the dissonance that lives within us.  It is there whether we see it or not. You may be wondering what it looks like, so I will give some...
“I’m Getting Worse”

“I’m Getting Worse”

Most people who decide to work with me have been journeying through recovery for many years.  They have been struggling to reduce their traumatic pain for decades.  They have tried many approaches over the years.  Some have worked a little.  Some have worked well, but only for a while.  And some have brought them permanent relief, but they seemed to hit a wall.  Despite all these efforts, there is one statement that is all too common when I talk to survivors.  “It feels like I’m getting worse.” That statement isn’t a dramatic exaggeration coming from years of trying to heal to no avail.  It isn’t coming from the inner tantrum thrown by the controller.  It does feel like it is getting worse because we are getting closer to the trauma.  It feels like it is getting worse because the traumatic emotions are rising to the surface while our defenses are dropping.  Let me explain what is happening from an inner parts perspective. When we were growing up in a traumatic environment, we developed defenders.  Our defenders are the protectors of our inner children and their secrets.  The goal of our defenders is to keep everything as safe as possible.  They do this by keeping the emotions squelched and the memories repressed.  They push the inner children away with invalidation and scathing insults because they believe this is the safest route.  They are willing to sacrifice our integrity to ensure safety.  And the controller is the leader of the defenders.  Their goal is to ensure we are safe no matter what.  They employ many different defenses, including extreme levels of...
My Recovery is Taking Too Long!!

My Recovery is Taking Too Long!!

I have been taking steps to heal myself for most of my adult life.  In my twenties, I learned yoga, meditation and Reiki.  I went on special diets to heal my aching body.  I sought out therapy in different forms with mixed results.  When my children were born, they brought a level of urgency to the process.  I knew I had to take it up a notch because the panic attacks were unbearable.  So 11 years ago, I started the recovery work which led to memory recovery.  It has been 11 years of emotional expression, recovered memories and body aching as I have transformed myself.  I can honestly say that I am not the same person I was.  Of course, my true self is the same.  But now, I can actually see it. This recovery journey has been amazing.  It has opened my eyes to many things about myself and the world around me.  I am glad I decided to take this path.  I would never want to go back to the life I was leading when I started.  That said, it has also been hard.  It has been miserable at times.  And honestly, if you had told me how long it would take at the beginning, I might not have signed up for it.  What a tragedy that would have been.  But back then, I would not have had the perspective to understand the timing was not the important part.  And there have been many tantrums because of that.  There have been so many tantrums.  And no, I am not talking about the tantrums from my external or...
The Trauma of Charlottesville

The Trauma of Charlottesville

Anxiety has been my lifelong companion.  While it has been debilitating at times, my recovery work has helped me so much.  I don’t have the same responses to life that I did in my younger years.  I don’t get paralyzed in the same way.  I can breathe through oncoming panic attacks.  I can write from the emotions under the surface.  I have come to a place in my recovery where I can stop anxiety before it overtakes me.  I am proud of that.  I love how anxiety is not always in charge anymore.  But I have to admit, the past two days, it has been in charge. I am paralyzed.  I have a mile-long “to-do” list and none of it is getting done.  I just keep scrolling through my Facebook feed reading articles and watching news streams.  But here’s the thing.  I know with all my being this is the wrong thing to do.  I know all the ways to break out of anxiety and this is not it.  But I do it anyway.  When I do break away from my computer, I feel like I am on the verge of grieving all the time.  That makes sense.  The anxiety is meant to keep the grief away.  Grief is about the uncontrollable and my controller wants this to be controllable.  My inner rebel feels trapped.  My inner children feel scared.  And my inner mean kid wants to punch someone.  So I scroll.  I look for answers to make everything okay.  But it isn’t okay.  It was never okay.  This is the world I live in.  My controller can’t pretend...