As a survivor of family-controlled child sex abuse and trafficking, I spent the first half of my life running an exhausting marathon obstacle course. I was pushing my way through life like I was at war every day, always waiting for the next shoe to drop, always expecting the next horrible thing to happen to me. I was living a life full of abusive relationships, emotional swings and fear-based decisions. I was sure that inner peace was just not possible for me.
But eight years ago, my twins were born. Almost instantly, I realized that my recovery could no longer be avoided. For the safety of my twins, and my own peace, I knew I had to muster the courage to face the shadows. I had to bring the darkness to the light. I had to commit to transform even though it terrified me.
The past eight years have been hard, but I have to admit, they would have been impossible without my recovery. I know that. Through my recovery, I have relieved myself of the constant inner turmoil that ruled my outer life. I have gained the ability to experience a peaceful presence that I never thought possible. Most importantly, I have stopped the manifestations of trauma that haunted my family for generations. I know that cycle is stopped and that adds to my peace.
I have transformed myself. Now let me help you bring your darkness in to the light.
Let me show you how to leave the past behind and find the peace you are so desperately searching for.
Let me help you find your own gift that lives below the years of pain.
It is possible. It is not easy. It takes strength and courage. It takes commitment to awareness. But it is possible.
Let’s start now.
3 Steps to Overcoming the Awareness Challenge
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Ways that I can support you in our work together...
When we can calm our own inner waters, we can reflect the storms of the world differently. Our inner world reflects our outer world. Our outer world guides us to our next inner journey. When our waters become still, our path appears before us. Clarity comes, but only once we can find the peace to see it.
As parents and survivors of trauma, we want to stop the cycle of abuse. But there is deeper work to be done. Uncovering our inner beliefs and shining a light on our shadow world can bring a new legacy of light to our family. Our children can learn from our example and adopt a new way of living.
I am dedicated to spreading awareness of the horrors of child abuse and trafficking. I do this by shining a light on today’s abuses and the effects on victims. Being trauma-informed requires that organizations and media partner with survivors. I can work with you to end violence through awareness.
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... read more
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... read more
For anyone who has spent time with me over the past few weeks, you probably found it hard to miss my latest obsession. Recently I discovered BBC’s Sherlock. I know what you are going to say next. “Elisabeth, you are 7 years late to that party.” I know that. I have never been a big fan of crime shows and I guess I assumed this would be the same. I never bothered to watch. But Sherlock is not about crime. It is, but it isn’t. It is about something else. And while I know my inner parts have driven this obsession (because all obsessions are driven by parts), I am just now realizing why. Sherlock is about inner parts. It is about trauma. It is about repressed memories and the way they run our lives. But most importantly, it is about love. I am not one of those self-development people who touts the all-encompassing beauty of love in the world. I didn’t grow up in an environment that supported such things. I never had the luxury of spending time on things like love. I grew up in hell. So not surprisingly, my controller took over. My controller has always been very strong. My controller was built for survival and lives in the mind. Vulnerability, emotions and love were never a part of the program. Love was a mistake. Love was something to be avoided at all costs. And there is no TV character who epitomizes the controller more than Sherlock. He is the ultimate controller But all controllers have one thing in common. They can’t do what they are... read more
The impacts of my traumatic childhood cannot be measured. They are too vast and far-reaching for me to classify, categorize or otherwise explain. That said, I do try. My controller hasn’t given up on the idea that I can define it. This blog exists because of my attempts to define it, so it’s not all bad. But the reality is too much for any one person to grasp entirely. Over the course of my adult life, I have done my best to be an adult. But with a childhood of complex trauma and a coping mechanism which took the form of dissociative identity disorder, I haven’t always had the ability to handle life from an adult place. Sometimes my younger parts have handled things for me and this has rarely gone well. Sometimes my controller has handled things and exhausted me in the process. But sometimes the paralysis hits. I don’t know exactly what causes it. Maybe there are too many parts who want to go in too many directions. Maybe the powerlessness is too much for the system and the shutdown is inevitable. Maybe some part believes that if I hide from it long enough, it will go away. All of these reactions come from my childhood coping and none of them will bring the best result. But often, I don’t have the ability, awareness and fortitude to overcome it. Recently, I have noticed that my precious computer has been acting in a problematic manner. I do have an information technology background, but unlike many of my friends working in that sector, I am not a gadget person. ... read more
We go way back. Don’t get me wrong, I go way back with the other parts too, but you are the one I remember the most. You are the one I always heard, always followed, always believed. Honestly, you are the one I thought was me. You sound exactly like me, or at least I thought you did. You are so logical and rational. You sound just like all the other adults I know. You know all the rules of society. You know the laws. You know how to avoid the pitfalls of life. You sound just like what I was told I should be. Why wouldn’t I think you were me? Of course, I know you ARE me. You are the part who took all the messed up experiences and created the perfect mask for me to use when I faced the horrible, evil, untrustworthy world. You use incredibly detail-oriented skills to watch the world like very few can. You are the best project manager ever (if I do say so myself). You never miss an appointment. You are never late. You make things happen no matter what. Honestly, you are impressive. But there were issues. You know what I mean. How many times did the boss compare you to a “bull in a china shop”? He would laugh, but we knew he meant it. There is a dark side to your regime. You don’t do relationships. You don’t do people. It would be fair to say you chew them up and spit them out. If they get in your way, you plow right through them. You don’t... read more
I have many clients who struggle with the possibility they can be loving, compassionate, grounded, patient and any other characteristic they need for recovery work. They tell me they can’t possibly be this way because they have never been shown how to be that way. Their parents didn’t behave that way, and they certainly haven’t felt any inkling of those characteristics since entering adulthood. And I really get it. When I started this journey, I felt the same way. How in the world was I going to parent my inner and outer children when nobody ever parented me? How was I going to love myself (or anyone else) when nobody ever loved me? How was I going to be compassionate with my inner parts when nobody ever gave me the benefit of the doubt? How was I going to have patience after a lifetime of fear, of watching everything I ever loved be ripped from my grasp? That wasn’t possible. I was basically screwed. Recovery would never work for me. But for some reason, I didn’t give up. Those beliefs were strong, but I sensed there was something else. It was a tiny something else, but it was still there. For some reason, I had a semblance of understanding that I could learn these things. I had an even smaller semblance of understanding that I already knew these things. So I stuck with the idea that something better was possible. And as we do when we live in our heads, I spent an exorbitant amount of time researching things. I thought I could teach myself how to be what... read more