Turning Wounds into Power

This year has been one of immense growth for me.
I have finally found my voice
And now that I have, my wounds have become words that hold so much strength and power.

Since I came completely out of my closet back in May life has really gained momentum
There’s been some really hard times but the positive things are outweighing those.

Early June I was interviewed by the lovely Megan Bowers-Vette 
She was wanting to portray abuse survivors not as victims but as people with renewed strength & life
The US Project was begun with a photography exhibition in Whangarei
Then released in the most amazing heart rending book
I am so proud to have been able to work with Megan in this project
She has done a brilliant job depicting 50 people in NZ & Australia who are daily living with the consequences from the experience of rape, and other forms of sexual abuse.
She has now published The Us. Project Book of Stories
It is a tremendous book portraying so much heartache, and yet so much strength.
Such a powerful communication
I would encourage you to buy this book
Read, pass it on, share it around
Open peoples eyes to truths
Where so many refuse to see and choose to stay blinded.

I was interviewed by UNICEF a couple of months ago.
It was an incredible privilege to work with Shelley on this project.
To be able to speak out on behalf of other children
Children like me who are being silenced
Not by violence
But by emotional headfucking
Which is more silencing
Because of the lack of ability that people have to see and understand what is happening
The support which has come from the video and article has been huge.
My hope is that it reaches and helps many young ones to speak out and find help and to prevent so many more from experiencing what I did.

I know that this is a really tough subject
It is very confronting to so many
Especially those who are connected in a vicarious way to a victim
But what has to be remembered
When dealing with this type of trauma
Is that the victim
Is the victim
and
The victim
should not
is not
to be blamed
or shamed
or accused
or doubted
No matter how difficult it is for you to process

You have to stop
and think
and just listen
and actually
hear
their pain
hear
their truth
because it is their truth
and you cannot dispute their truth

You have to stop
disbelieving
victim blaming
victim shaming

You have to stop
supporting
encouraging
allowing behavioural continuance
to the perpetrators
Just because they appear to be
so good
so important
so squeaky clean
so -‘oh they would never do anything like that’

You have to stop
questioning
why didn’t you disclose earlier
why didn’t you say something at the time
why did you wear that
why did you go there
why did you drink that
and the worst one of all
why didn’t you confront your abuser?????
Seriously???

Unless you have lived the pain
You have absolutely NO IDEA
of the why
to any of these questions
You have absolutely NO IDEA
of the re-traumatising that happens
from your questions
from disclosing
from the doubting
from the demands
You put on us

Please just stop
and love us
hold us
and give us space
and time
to heal
in our own ways
in our own time

We so need you
If you can do this for us
We can heal
We can become strong
We can face the world again
And we will totally kick arse and become even stronger than before!

Therapy

Therapy
-a treatment that helps someone feel better, grow stronger,
-the act of caring for someone

Origin

I used to think therapy was the difficult stuff
the hour long sessions spent with my therapist
But
it’s not

Therapy has
many colours
many forms
many shapes
many times

Therapy
for me
is writing
is meeting a friend for coffee and and one on one time
is time & fun with my children
is taking the dog for a quiet meander along the river walk
is impulsively popping in for a chat with a friend
is sweating up a steep hill track and taking in the spectacular views from the top of my achievement
is impulsively shopping
is leaning into the arms of my closest tribal members and sobbing my heart out
is allowing them to feel my pain
is receiving their love and encouragement
is watching movies that make me cry, and laugh, and think
is sharing my innermost soulful thoughts with my best friend
is spending a day in bed with Netflix just because I can
is messaging my lover in the early hours of the morning
is sharing belly laughing crazy wine drinking sessions with my tribe
is creating art
is accepting the love and understanding of my man
is being held safe in his arms
is sitting at the beach and soaking in the sunshine
is planning my garden
is clambering around slippery river rocks with my children
is walking beside others who have also experienced my journey
is creating something joyous and wonderful and beautiful
is dancing wild and free
is making love
is gloriously wonderful food
is coffee

is orange :-)Therapy is caring for me in a way that restores my soul
But
I find
it tends to come delivered on a roller coaster
I delight in the parts of the ride that are slow
easy
soothing
cruising
but
while I am enjoying them I don’t tend to notice that the car I am riding in is beginning to climb…
Until I am perched at the top
rocking
waiting
then….
horrifyingly
the ride it gets to be screamingly scary
Situations arise
Events happen
my carriage plunges
down
down
down

and the therapy becomes
brutally intense
it makes me writhe in pain
I feel as if I am being torn apart
the anguish of the years
comes pouring out of my eyes
without permission
and when I think
I just cannot bare another moment,
when I am totally emotionally spent
the roller coaster reaches the bottom
and quietly cruises again
I gasp and gulp and reel
from the carnage wrought on my soul
I nurse my bruises
then realise
I made it through
that time
I begin the gentle soul soothing nurturing
knowing that this time
I have been made stronger
so that the next time my carriage reaches its peak
the pain won’t be as raw
the screaming not as loud
the ride down not as intense
nor as long

Nayyirah Waheed expresses it so well

recovering
healing
from abuse
is not an easy journey
it is wrought with hard seasons
but it is not an impossible journey
if you are willing to reach out
and accept the hands
who want to love you
but the hardest thing of all
for us
is

Aggrandizing of self

When the Japanese mend broken objects,
they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with GOLD.
They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.

I absolutely fell in love with this concept when I discovered it.
As someone who has been broken
not just once
but many, many times
I know what it is like to be shattered into so many pieces
that it feels like I will never ever be whole again

Aggrandize
such a marvellous word
I love how it rolls off my tongue
it has such
a beautiful tone
a wonderful feel
an importance even

It derives from the Latin grandis – meaning large
It is an enlargement or increase
in power, status, wealth
In this case
it is enlarging the worth of a broken object
by making it
even more beautiful
than before

Over recent months I have been picking up my broken pieces
I have been spending time
working out how to fit all of those shattered fragments back together
It has taken me years to understand
that no matter how hard I try
I will never be the whole that I was
way back before
I was broken

But I can be whole again
even more than I am now
By piecing together the best parts of me
the healed and healing parts of me
and aggrandizing them
with the gold that I am discovering along the way

Gold that comes in so many forms
true ‘stay with me forever no matter what shit I put them through’ friends
new members of my tribe
new experiences
deep emotional discoveries
and
new love 💖

I can be whole
I can be a new me
Aggrandized into a far far more beautiful self
than I ever believed possible

And that
to me
is
Pure Gold

Reclaimation

Recently I was given this photo of a little girl

I look into the eyes of this endearing wee lass
and I see
innocence
sweetness
delight
love
preciousness
cute
fun
thoughtful
kind
trust
naivety

I look at this picture which is obviously old
and I see a beautiful wee 4 year old girl
a sweet treasure of a child
who has no idea of how her life is going to change
in just a few years

In only 3-4 years from now she would be changed forever.
Looking at this photo I wonder if
the grooming hadn’t already begun

Looking at this photo I wonder
what if
‘things’ hadn’t happened
what if
she would’ve been allowed
to grow up
to be a normal, happy, little girl
retaining her innocence
her naivety
until she was ready to make her own mature decisions

I do not remember this photo being taken
But I do remember this little girl
this little girl
was me

She was the before
I am the after

What happened in between?
The little girl disappeared
into a world of
confusion
hurt
betrayal
secrecy
pain
distress
intimidation
spirit killing
soul damaging
depravity

A world that lasted for over 10 years
the wounds of which
are embedded so deep
that they imprinted
into her bones
her spirit
and into her very soul

Escaping that world
didn’t mean the wounds disappeared
they just healed over
and the poison remained
hidden
inside
slowly eating away at her spirit

For 36 long hard years
She fought to be strong
fought to stay strong
fought the memories
fought herself
fought everyone else
fought with an uncontrolled anger

Fighting makes you strong
and she was strong
but not in a good way

Finally on the 28th January 2011
the poisons had done enough damage
and she broke

and then the battle really truly began
the battle to find that little girl
the battle to open up all those wounds
to clean them out
to rid my whole self of all the toxins
the battle to heal
the battle to discover Me
the battle to love Me

I learned not just be a fighter
I learned to
to stand strong
to stand true
to stand with pride
I learned to be a warrior
I learned that even though I can win the battles
the scars will always remain
The scars
will always make my road a little rougher
will always be a reminder
will often make my ride a little unsteady
but
my scars
are my tattoos of bravery
because Brave is now my middle name

Looking back into the eyes of that sweet wee girl
knowing
no-one was there for her
no-one was there to shield her
breaks my heart

But
56 years on
I have found her again
she is still there
deep within my soul
and I will do my absolute best
to nuture her
to defend her
to love her
because she deserves that and so much more

 

Grief for the fallen Rimu

When Tim was killed a friend commented that ‘the mighty Rimu has fallen’

I remembered this recently when I was processing some headstuff and ’saw’ an incredibly clear picture of the journey our family has taken since he fell.

The picture was of a dense forest and a tall majestic tree was standing at the edge.
When it fell the noise resounded for miles and miles
Its branches smashed paths in many directions through the forest.
I could ‘see’ that each path was the journey that each of us within the family has made and are still making through this forest.
The paths are all going in different directions.
Like branches of the tree some paths are straight for a while and then they hit a bend.
Some bends are small and others are large knotty ones.
There are twigs jutting out along the way which take you on small detours but ultimately you have to return to the main branch.
Then you carry on until you hit the next knot or branch fork.
It’s a different journey for each ‘branch’.
And each ‘branch’ is reaching the clearing at a different time from the others due to their differences in size or length.
These differences equate to our processing abilities and other outside influences which divert us along the way.
My own journey was incredibly intense for the first 3.5 years.
I struggled through some pretty dense undergrowth.
At times the battle almost broke my branches, but ultimately the struggle made me fight and find strength I never knew I had.
I reached the edge of my clearing and the sunshine almost blinded me.
It was overwhelming to see light again.
I revelled in it.
Danced to the light of the sun and the moon.
It was truly the most wonderful feeling.
It took me nearly 4 years for my ‘branch’ to break free of the forest.

I look around to find the other branches and I see some have emerged before me and others are still finding their way.
Some have found their clearings but have times when they venture back into the forest for a short period.
And others are still lost in the undergrowth.
And that is totally ok.
I sometimes take a few steps back into the shade.
But I’ve learnt not to venture too far because I do not want to get lost in the undergrowth again.
It is a very dark and scary place.

When we do reach our clearing we have to remember to be patient with the others who are still untangling themselves from the forest undergrowth.
It is a journey that each ‘branch’ must make alone.
No one can walk it for them.
That is the essence of grief.

Continuum

For too many years I was frozen into silence by shame
Shame that was not mine to carry
I was also silenced by loyalty
Family loyalty
But I know now that was all bullshit
Because the only one that was being damaged was me
And I was the one
In my child’s mind
Protecting everyone else
Because don’t you know
Family has to stay loyal
Family has to cover up the dirt
Family is more important than the abuse of a child
But now…
I am saying enough!!

I am sick and tired of being the victim
Tired of being victimised
I will not be shamed into silence again

For too long I was under the impression that I was the only one
But as I have broken my silence I am hearing more and more from others who were victimised by my father
It is daunting and horrific
And I am sickened by the extent of his depravity
Yes, I know he is dead and gone
Yes, I know he cannot defend himself
But I know that as an adult I personally challenged him and he never denied a thing
All he said was – as he brushed it under the carpet
Its all in the past
All in the fucking past!!
Yeah Nah!
You cannot abuse a child for over 10 years of her childhood and think you have left her unscathed.
It doesn’t work that way.
It will never be in the past
Yes I have worked on my healing
Yes I am still working on my healing
Yes I am on a new journey
And Yes I am in a really really good place now
But the damage he inflicted will never ever be forgotten.
I will not allow myself to be swept under a carpet again.
I know now that I am far too valuable for that.

My childhood memories are not all scarred with depravity.
I am the first one to admit that there were some great times along the way.
My grandmother was a true feminist, way ahead of her times, and I loved her for that
I spent many holidays with her and my ‘not so much older than me’ uncles who I adored like surrogate older brothers
She was a strong influence in my formative years
My mother was educated, a teacher, always a teacher – I understand that because she passed that trait on to me
She provided me with a wonderful understanding and appreciation for music and culture and the arts
I will always be very grateful for that
And for the sacrifices she made to ensure I received those piano lessons, the precious books, the records she could ill afford.
From both these women I inherited the love of words and the ability to express myself passionately in my writing.

Unfortunately my memories of the great times are pretty much all tainted by the undercurrents of what I was experiencing under the covers, behind the doors, when no-one was looking, when no-one was seeing
On the surface everything in the garden was very rosy
It was beneath the surface where the rot was lying.
And when there is rot it eventually weakens the foundation and everything collapses.
It took many years for this rot to work its way to the surface
And now I am burning it out and rebuilding my foundations with new wood.

I do have many happy times that I recall
As a preschooler my mind casts back to a carefree spirited little girl
and I see snapshots of me pre the age of 7 that easily spring to my mind
In those snapshots I see myself, but I also see my carefree little granddaughters reflecting in their similarities to me
I just hope and pray that my little girls will never, ever, ever, have to endure what I did.

By breaking my silence
By bringing the rot to the surface to be dealt with
I am allowing discussion and freedom to talk openly
I have had so many friends and family come to me in the past weeks saying
‘Thank You’
‘Thank you for sharing’
‘Thank you for opening the door to allow us to talk’
‘Thank you for giving us the ability to share our pain’

It has taken every ounce of strength I have to come to this point in my journey
The emotional exhaustion from writing has been immense
I began to spiral down the tunnel again last week
I allowed myself a day of recovery time
I was tended to by empathetic friends
But I knew I couldn’t allow myself to fall too far
I will not let myself go there again
I woke the following day with resolve
I put my armour back on
My warrior self kicked the black dog fair out the door
And I faced the world again
Brave
Courageous
With my smile
I will not allow my smile to be stolen from me again

This is my story
My journey
My truth
and in front of me
is
My future
And I am writing it myself
I will not allow anyone to corrupt my shine ever again

‘Angry is just being scared’

I went to a one man show on Sunday night
I actually went so I could take my lad
Because I thought he would gain more understanding and clarity about depression
After 35 years of home educating I never stop do I??
Always looking for the educational opportunity for my kids 😉

But, as I discovered once before, 27 long years ago
And I remember the moment with extreme lucidity
I was the one who came away with the insight and clarity
I was the one who needed to hear the message

27 years ago
I still remember the night
I had organised/arranged for us to visit with a local guy who was well known for his evangelical relationship ministry.
And I was so incredibly sure that Tim needed sorting
Oh my!
Was I so wrong??

That evening
Not long before we were about to leave
All hell blew up
A random anonymous phone call
To this day I have no idea who it was
But that person had information
And that person told my mother what my father had done to me
And like every other thing that she couldn’t deal with in life
She never spoke another word about it from that night on
She literally swept it under the carpet
Leaving me a total mess
Once again
I was abandoned by my mother

I remember arriving on Jack’s doorstep – an emotional hysteric
I was a Mess!
It wasn’t Tim that needed sorting
It was my shit that needed unfucking
That was the first step I took in my healing journey
27 years ago
It was a very tiny step in the scheme of things
But that man I thought needed sorting out
That man
He stood by me the whole journey
He was my rock
And I am ever so grateful for him for all those years
He rescued me when I was a damaged teen
And then he protected me for all the years to follow
He always had my back no matter what
And that ‘no matter what’ was extensive
I had no idea back then what PTSD was
I had no idea why I was so angry
Or where the anger was coming from….

Rolling forward to last Sunday night
‘Shot Bro – Confessions of a Depressed Bullet’
Rob Mokaraka’s one man performance was insightful and challenging
Dark humour, Maori humour, confronting, energetic and powerful in his presentation of his life battle with depression,
He had us in tears and laughter
But what hit me deep within my heart
was when he said
‘Angry is just being scared’

Oh God!
The tears are still pouring down my face as I type this
Just being scared
How much of my life have I lived being scared
So much
Too much
The anger covered up the scared little girl cowering in the corner

Looking back I can see that every time I feel my life is out of control
The anger surfaces
But that anger is covering up the scared
As a child I was scared so much of the time
Scared because I never knew when my father would ‘want’ me
Scared because I knew that if anyone found out our family would blow to bits
Scared
Just plain honest to God scared for pretty much most of my formative years
But from the time I escaped at 18
I lived life on a high wire
I was a thrill seeker
I was out there
But I only went as far as I could without losing control
If I lost control then the scared took over

Throughout my life I can look back now and identify all the moments
All those moments when the control was taken from me
And the angry me had to protect the scared me

This morning when those words were going around in my head
‘Angry is just being scared’
‘Angry is just being scared’
‘Angry is just being scared’
the tears were trickling down my cheeks as I lay on my pillow

I need to let that anger go
I have been angry at so much in the past years
Angry at my father for abusing me
Angry at my father for mindfucking me
Angry at myself for allowing that mindfucking to ruin so much of my life
Angry at my mother for not protecting me
Angry at my mother for not hearing me
So incredibly angry at Tim for abandoning me
Angry at the Police for screwing up and covering up
Angry at the kids not seeing my pain because they were so embroiled in their own
Angry at myself for not being able to be all I need to be for my kids
Angry at the immense weight on my shoulders
Angry at all the crap I have had to wade through to get me to today
And today
I am angry because….

NO!!
I am not going to be angry today
Because
Today I understand
that ‘Angry is just being scared’

Today
I will voice that yes I am scared
I am scared of what today will unfold
I am scared of might happen – duh! how stupid does that sound!
I am scared that my dreams for my future will be taken from me

But in this moment
I am going to allow the other part of me to become the stronger part of me
The other part of me is going to embrace the future
The other part of me is excited about stepping out into the unknown
The other part of me is going to ask for help when she feels scared

If you do see me angry
Please put out your hand and just ask
What is scaring you?

Putting my vulnerability right out there!

for a long long time words have evaded me
me
a woman who usually has so many words
a woman with a word passion
a woman who has a massive word fetish
but the words i needed
just haven’t been able to be found
each time i start to write
the blankness of the page stares back at me
and the pain blocks out any ability to form comprehendible words

but this week
finally
i think i have broken through the barrier
this is incredibly hard
brutal
harsh
real
sickening

over the past six years i have used the most painful words i could
to elucidate the pain
but none of them really cut to the chase
abuse
sexual abuse
incest
childhood abuse
assault

but they are all too removed
they cause a separation
they are bad
really bad
but not bad enough
they actually
minimise

today the full essence of my core pain was understood
by my own self
which is the most important part of all of this
when i verbalised
named that pain out loud

when i first addressed this pain
i pushed open the closet door just enough to allow myself to breath
i inched out my toe
tested the waters
but the response was oppressive
the waters raged at me
i began drowning in distress
i hurriedly pulled the closet door closed
running back to the safety of dark silence
and since then have only let it open a little when i have felt a tad brave

but keeping that door closed
means keeping secrets
and secrets kill
secrets allow the demons to play games in your mind
secrets allow the pain to continue
secrets allow the pain to continue be perpetrated

so today I make a deliberate choice
to find those words
to name that pain
for what it was
to blast open the door
blow it completely off its hinges
to let the secrets fly
in the hopes that others can find their voices too

The words I needed to find
need to release
are
that i was
raped
R. A. P. E. D.
raped by my own father
countless times each week
for ten years of my childhood

there!
i’ve said it
finally
it’s out
in the open
in the public arena
woah!
breathe………..
no!
i don’t have to run for cover
i’ve nothing to hide anymore

i have been trying to come to terms with this for so many years
but how do you?
how do you ever understand?
even now
when i am so far along in my healing journey
the memories are never that far away
they are stored
in my pandoras box
on a high shelf
in the back room
of the recesses of my mind

i don’t choose to access that room hardly ever now
the lid stays shut on that box
because
in the past whenever i have lifted the lid
the demons that have attacked me
have been so brutal
so violent
so demoralising
i have been left
battered
bruised
and re-abused

i kept the lid on tight
and fought my way through life
until i could fight now more

i broke
under the pressure of keeping my fight on
i broke
and from my breaking
i have begun learning
to understand myself
to process
to communicate on far far deeper and honest levels than I ever could before
i learnt that the damage caused to me
WAS
NOT
MY
FAULT
that was huge
it took such a long long time to infiltrate my psyche

there is a very deep and often overwhelming sadness
the residue
left from the multiple rapes
that still tugs at my soul
that still now leaves me feeling incredibly vulnerable
putting this in to words
is so risky
but i can’t be BRAVE
without taking risks and exposing my vulnerabilities
and i have got to be brave
or i cannot live honestly

Warrior & Wild – but today & maybe tomorrow, can I just be plain tired?

“The wild woman has nothing to do with doing wild things, it is all about embracing your true natural self. For one that is loud and “out there” and for the other that is silent and introvert.. and everything in between.. and maybe even at the same time 
It is the woman who wants to break free from all the strings society has placed on them to find herself in the heart of love and compassion.”

I have been riding a fairly high-flying wave of awesome energy lately.
Emotional levels have been extremely high
Life is treating me well
Being loved just rocks my socks off
On personal, business and emotional levels everything is just so good

But occasionally I wake, and a small altercation tips me over before I’ve had a chance to put on my warrior armour.
It just flips me over and I find myself back, tiptoeing through a swamp of feeling just a tad sad, just a little below par.
But actually tiptoeing is vastly different to drowning!

On reflection I realise that even warriors need some time to just stop, climb down off their horses and rest a bit.
When you’ve been entering the fray and doing battle for so long you just get so used to fighting
And then when you do take time out to heal your wounds
And you regain your strength
And you work really hard to not just regain
But to renew
It is just such an marvellous place to be
It is so fricken awesome!!
I am so loving being in that place.

Along the way I have learnt to honour my soul in that place and know that not every day is going to be riding along the mountain tops
There are still some valley journeys too
What I am finding these days is that my descents into the valleys are now a lot more bearable to live with as my understanding of self increases
In fact they could even be somewhat, just ever so slightly, enjoyable
They give me time to just stop and reflect
And absorb the wonderful reality that I have healed so much
That I barely remember the darkest valleys I was walking in before.

So when the clouds close in and block my sparkle I just wait a while for them to blow on by
Knowing that despite their shading
I am still shining
And the sun will soon return
And my freaking supernova will sparkle again!!

Empathy in pain

This wasn’t the post I planned on writing today.
But then a lot of things in life aren’t planned.

In a split second our lives are changed
transformed
into an unimaginable hell
when something completely unplanned happens

I know
and you know
that accidents happen
every day
every hour
But most of us just cruise on through life
completely untouched by another’s pain
Unless the unthinkable happens!
The unthinkable
the unimaginable
the inconceivable
the personal trauma of losing….

Losing someone that is so near & dear to us
Losing that person in a split second
with
no warning
absolute horror
disbelief
We absolutely & simply just cannot comprehend
how we can carry on living

The pain is overwhelming
all consuming
blinding
numbing

I have been there
Oh man!
I have been right there…
I have walked this journey
I have almost drowned during this journey
It was the hardest fucking journey I have ever faced

And today
when the news broke
that Laura – a woman I had never heard of before this morning
had been left
in a foreign country
on her own
with two small boys
Because
in one split moment
her world had been completely turned upside down
by an unplanned incident
that took her man away from her
that took a dad away from his boys

My.
Heart.
Broke.

For her

Because
I know her pain
I can still feel that pain
In the depths of my soul
I feel her pain

I can’t tell her
it’s going to be ok
I can’t tell her
she will heal
I can’t tell her
she is young enough to find another man
I can’t tell her
that her boys will ‘get over losing their Dad’
I can’t tell her
anything

Because I know this is all total bullshit right now
All Laura needs & wants right now is Leslie
and she can’t have him
and my heart weeps so strongly with hers

Maybe
Hopefully
like me
and many others before us
in time
she will follow her road
to a place where she can ‘heal’
A place
where joy will overtake the sorrow

But right at this moment
we as Kiwis
need to envelop her with love and support
and give her all we can to ensure
that she can make it through
these days & weeks

Because
once the initial numbness disappears
it is going to hurt
way way more than
I can ever describe
There are just no words
to express
that pain
that darkness
that deep deep sorrow
that comes from the loving & losing…..