Words matter

Abuse

How do we speak about it
How do we own it

MY abuse
or
THE abuse

Do we absorb it
make it our own
Do we try to remove it from within
disown it
disassociate from it

How do we process those words

Does It become part of me
– we become consumed by It
– we allow It to absorb Us
– we struggle within It
– we surrender to It

Or

Do we hold it at arms length
– the thing that was done to me
– the thing that has affected me
– the thing that has crippled me
– the thing that changed my life forever


We each develop systems to cope with our individual situations
Those systems in turn become mechanisms
The mechanisms which allow us to continue to live
Some of us ‘appear’ to live well
And others of us don’t

No matter what the outside world perceives of us
The trauma
The abuse
has infiltrated our very core
pierced our soul
And created such damage that we will never ever be the same ever again

But one way we can alter the effects
Is to change
MY abuse
to
THE abuse

And in so doing
We remove the onus
From us
And give it back
To the Abuser, the Perpetrator
The one who did things TO us

Words matter
Context matters






…anything that is mentionable can be more manageable…

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”

― Fred Rogers

I was watching the movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood” recently and these words really spoke to me
They are so true
So wise

We have had so many taboos in societal exchange
And those taboos create so much
stress
trauma
generating room for abuse of many kinds to perpetuate

If we cannot talk about
death
life
sex
mental health
relationships
etc
in normal fashion
using real terms and real words

We create
prohibitions
secrets
silences
darkness
damage

Allowing misconceptions to exacerbate
Allowing lies to spread
Allowing abuse to continue

Let’s manage our (un)mentionables
Let’s talk honestly
Let’s talk openly
Let’s be supportive
Let’s be trustworthy

I know if I had had just one person
Just one
Who could’ve seen
Who could’ve been supportive
Maybe, just maybe, life would’ve been so different for the little girl that was me

Unfortunately
The one person that spoke up for me all those decades ago
was just another small person
a witness
but also a victim,
yet another victim
Whose parents
couldn’t hear her
wouldn’t hear her
couldn’t see
wouldn’t see
And because of their inability to manage the unmentionable
she was unheard
she was physically abused
she was verbally abused
she was ridiculed for saying such unmentionable dirty things
she was silenced

one victim
became two victims
and on
and on
and on

until decades later
the ripples in the pond of abuse that my father began
have become so big
and so far reaching
so damaging
in so many realms of my life

Ever since I found my voice 8 years ago
and began mentioning the unmentionable
I have been hearing from more of his victims
and from other victims who have found their voices cuz I found mine
Finding your voice empowers others

Sadly I am still hearing stories from other victims today
It is never ending
But as we manage our humanity
we find support
we find we are not alone




Trust me…

My trust has been broken so so many times


Trust me
I’m your Daddy
I won’t hurt you
Bullshit

Trust me
The landrover’s not gonna go over the bank
We’ll be fine
Bullshit

Trust me
I’m just gonna go to town today
I’ll see you tomorrow when you come out with the kids
Bullshit 

Trust me
I’m your friend
I’ll have your back
Bullshit

Trust me…

Trust me…

Trust me…

When I hear those words…
My stomach churns 
I’m feeling sick
My heads pounding
I’m crying inside
I’m breathing deep
Trying to contain my fears
My whole body is fighting
Trying to release my fears

Trust me…
It’s not that I don’t trust you
It’s that
I can no longer trust myself
to trust

Re-Writing my CV

We are all asked at some point in our lives to write a CV or a resume
It is actually a really tough call for many of us
Some of us who have dedicated our lives to our families
who have not ‘worked’ outside our homes for decades
Some of us don’t feel comfortable blowing our own trumpets
selling ourselves isn’t easy in this society of diminishment
to embolden ourselves is not something we are comfortable with

But try writing your life CV
Wow!
Thats another story
Where do I begin
What do I write
What do I hide
What can I say

There are some things that are on my life CV that I unfortunately can’t do anything about
Things that have damaged me
Things that have caused me trauma
Things that hold me back
Things that silence me
Things that make me angry
Things that scar me
Responses I have made
Behaviours I have inflicted
Words uttered in haste
Words delivering pain
Those things are there and only I can choose how I use them

I heard a great quote from Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl who went through far, far more than I could ever imagine but his words resound loudly

Everything in life can be taken from you except one thing 
The freedom to respond to the situation you are in
This is what determines the quality of the life we live, not our circumstances

I am learning to control my reactive emotive responses
Those damn ptsd reactions…
Trying not to respond to a situation immediately
When I do it is often with unthought out reaction
A reaction coming from my ptsd or my anxiety or my child self

I am trying to stop and breath and allow time
Time to think
Time to try and view the situation from the otherside
Time to diffuse

I am learning how to rewrite my CV
I cannot erase the pages already written
The past of damages I have lived
and damaging I have caused
Those pages have already been delivered & read
Burning my copy doesn’t erase the copies received
I cannot cancel that history
But I can begin writing new pages

The pages ahead are still clear and clean
My pencil is sharpened
I am aware and on guard
I know there will be blots on the pages
From inadvertant reactives I unleash
But I can choose
React or retaliate
or
Respond

Whatever I choose will predicate the outcome
It is my choice

Invisible wounds

Living with the results of trauma is something many of us do
Many more of us than you can imagine
Trauma response is very individual
No one can relive your trauma
No one can tell you how you ought to respond
No one can tell you what you feel
Or how you should feel
No one has the right to make you feel guilty
No one has the right to tell you to forgive


There are recognised symptoms that cover the wide variety of PTSD’s
Not all will apply to you
Or to him
Or her
They are a generic guide for diagnosis
The base though is that they are/can be your bodies response to trauma inflicted on you that you could not control
The wounds are very often externally indiscernible
But the responses are embarrassingly visible
And can often be emotionally, physically and socially crippling

For me personally I can identify with most of the above symptoms and at least half of those would be affecting me on a daily basis

Trauma changes our basic brain functionings
Thats a fact
No argument

One of my sorrowful questions has often been
What/who would I have been if I hadn’t endured 10 years of childhood sexual abuse?
Who would that little girl have become?
What would her life have been like?
Would she have been a better mother, a better wife?
Would she have had more confidence in herself?
Would her experience of sex and relationships have been more healthy?

I know I am the person I am today because of my abuse
I don’t want the abuse to define me
But in an intrinsic way it has
I had no choice in that
But I do have a choice now
I have a choice to do the best I can with who I am now
I will not let my abuser win this
I am inherently stronger because I have had to be
I had to fight from such a young age to hang on to my identity


Childhood incest inflicts such massive confusion on a child
Love
Loyalty
Respect
Trust
All things that should be an integral part of a safe normal parent/child relationship
Are confused by
Manipulation
Secrets
Emotional bullying
Passive agressiveness
Powerlessness
Conflicted loyalty
Guilt, blame & shame
Betrayal

When you finally escape you don’t know how to experience real love
You are so used to your body being used as a ‘love tool’
That you unwittingly continue that toxic behaviour


According to research
the younger the age the abuse begins,
the frequency of the abuse,
plus the longer the duration,
effects the intensity of trauma response.
The average length of incest abuse is 4 years – when I read this today it blew my mind,
I am crying as I type, I feel sick to my stomach as the reality & roots of my constant fight is hitting me…

My recollections are that I was around the age of 7-8 yrs old, the frequency was almost daily, and I wasn’t able to escape my abuser until I was 18 years old.
10 years of almost daily incestuous abuse…

No wonder I struggle to support my inner child
It is a constant
Daily
Overwhelming fight
To separate my adult self from my child self
To not be her anymore
I just want to grow strong enough to build a healthier relationship between us.



https://ct.counseling.org/2018/03/understanding-treating-survivors-incest/

https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/84873517.pdf

Meltdown looks like…

Please note – below is not where I am now – it is a description of where I have been.



I was processing a very distressing time with my therapist recently when she stopped me and asked me to describe what a meltdown ‘looked like’ to me?


She stopped me in my tracks.
She knows me too well.
She knows I ‘paint with words’

But I’d never been made to actually ‘paint’ this painful picture before. 
Normally I’m a vibrant colour lover. But in times like this the only colour I see is black. So I tend to stop ‘painting’.

What does it look like for me?
And what does it look like for others looking on?

Heaven forbid! – I never stopped to think what it looks like to others. I guess I look like a total psycho mess. I hide a lot so only those closest to me see the real truth of my emotional crises. 


So describe what’s happening within me during a meltdown.
Whew! 
…well the days/months preceding I’m slowly descending into depressional darkness, at the same time (and unnoticeably I thought but now I know my closest can see what I can’t) I’m getting wound up internally like a top. And then something, (usually relatively minor but linked inextricably to a past trauma) will trigger me which snaps the now very taught rubber band and everything in my head starts spinning.

Physical agitation builds, I can’t sit still, I have an overwhelming need to run. Then my brain just implodes.
Feelings of hopelessness, fear, stupidity, anger at myself for my inability to cope… Tears which have been building below the surface erupt uncontrollably, and then are constantly there for days, sometimes weeks. 

I feel weak, hopeless, out of control, lost…



There’s usually two outcomes depending on the circumstances and the reactions of those nearest me. The length of recovery is somewhat determined by them too.

‘Before therapeutic education & understanding’ I would usually run straight into ‘fright/flight’ – retreat to the inside of my head. On the outside I now know I would appear bitchfaced, sad & angry. But inside I had just shut down because I didn’t know how to process and communicate my pain. Because of this inability my meltdown could take days or weeks to recover from. 

Definitely not pretty & much less of a reaction now. 

The second is outcome is 95.9% better and is only possible due to the past 10 years of therapy which has slowly helped me understand the how’s & whys of my traumas & responses and how to manage & communicate them. 

If/when meltdown crisis hits and those nearest me can see & embrace me in my pain, which is hard for them because like most hurting trauma sufferers I push away those trying to help me, then my reaction changes momentarily to ‘freeze’ until and I can allow myself to feel safe. Being held and not questioned is imperative. Then I collapse into fetal and rest. Rest in a quiet safe place with all stresses removed is essential at this point because I am emotionally & physically exhausted.

Recovery from a crisis meltdown is not immediate but once the dam breaks the tensions & tears lessen and the colours begin returning to my world.


PTSD is a hidden trauma inflicted disability which is exhausting to live with. It’s a constant daily fight that I have been living with for decades 🥺
But now my fight is be that victorious survivor not to just survive.

I’m so grateful for the recognition & understanding I received from my very first ACC case manager who gave me permission to take as much time as I needed when he said ‘this could take you many years to heal from’

Here’s to celebrating being this Beautiful Mess who has successfully climbed out of yet another dark hole
Thank God my sun is shining again and my colours are vividly happy today 🙂

Clarity of your own narrative never fades

Each of us has our own narrative
We can be part of the same story
But we see with clarity only our part of it

I remember my part of the story that broke us all
I remember
A day of normalcy
A day of planning ahead
We were all going to town the following morning
But Tim decided to go alone on Monday
He wanted to go help Graham pick vegetables because Graham always brought us bins & bins of seconds which he gathered up on his own and brought down for us to process to help feed our large extended family
He wanted to do his bit towards this incredibly generosity
So
He did some mussel ropes with Azzan, some boat work with Seb
I remember he raced through the shower and I helped him pack an overnight bag
He packed up the Safari
I remember we were alone at the back of the 4WD as he loaded in bins of mussels to give away
It was to be my last moments with him
But neither of us knew
I kissed him goodbye and arranged to meet him in town on Tuesday afternoon.
He took Seb & Phoebe home and left around 2pm on Monday afternoon
I was to drive out with the 3 youngest the next morning to meet him in town.

I remember relaxing with Anson & Marah before they went home
Having dinner with the kids and putting them to bed
I remember enjoying a peaceful evening

Then with incredible clarity
I remember receiving a text from Anson just before 9pm saying he’d heard there had been an accident on our road
In my mind ‘our road’ meant anywhere from Port Ligar to Rai Valley
I remember making phone calls
I called David where Tim was supposed to be staying
‘No we haven’t seen him’
I called Graham
‘No I haven’t seen him, call the police’
I phoned Ian at Okiwi Bay who was our local ambulance responder
‘No, we had a call out but were turned back because the choppers were flown in. Call the police’
So I called the police thinking I would get our local station
I remember talking to a lady who had no idea where I was
She was in Wellington
I remember her telling me she would ask and call me back
I remember the heightened fear, adamantly refusing to let her hang up
I remember the lightbulb moment whilst waiting for her return – ‘Anson heard it was on the news’!
I remember racing to my computer and typing in Stuff.co.nz
I remember seeing the news bulletin
A lone male was killed on the Port Ligar-Te Towaka Road

I knew instantly
I absolutely knew
I was hyperventilating
I was holding my breath
I remember her returning saying she would transfer me to Blenheim Police
I remember the voice of the police sergeant…
I remember his name
I will never forget his name
…confirming without compassion or hesitation that yes Tim was dead & had been taken to Nelson
I remember frantically asking him where he was and what do I do??
I remember him saying
“I don’t know. I’m going off duty now and have handed over to Picton police.”

I remember texting Anson saying Please Come Now!
I remember screaming
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO


I remember the 3 little ones coming out thinking I was laughing at a movie and their confused faces in total disbelief at what I was sobbing
I remember Marah holding me
I remember Anson bravely making the worst phone calls he would ever ever have to make
Telling his siblings the worst news
I remember Seb & Phoebe coming by boat
Still numb from losing their wee one only 2 weeks earlier
I remember them sitting outside in stunned silent pain
I remember having to call Australia
I remember Jesika answering, she was so happy at her dance class
I remember the anguish of having to tell her
I remember her screams as she collapsed
I remember the pain of not being able to hold her

I remember receiving a message from a Blenheim cousin at 9:30pm saying how sorry she was and discovering she had heard it from a local person
I remember the disbelief that obviously so many others knew long before I did
I remember our neighbours Liz, Harry & Jude arriving an hour later
I remember them telling me their story
Their story confirmed how badly the sergeant had handled the whole situation
That Tim had died over 6 hours before only 20mins from home

I remember my pain was so intense that even though I was trying to be everything for everyone that night I completely failed

I have carried all my children’s pain along with my own
It has been an incredibly heavy burden
I have felt torn in so many directions
Grief is a tortuous creature
It attacks us all at different times and in different ways

I have watched each of them walk their own journeys, process their own trauma, and know they hold their own narratives of that night
Some have vocalised
Others have kept theirs hidden deep
I cannot tell their stories
Just as they can’t tell mine
But we can hold each other and listen

Embedded memories

Eight years ago
0r 96 months
0r 416 weeks
0r 2922 days

It doesn’t matter how you count
It is a long time
But it is also a very short time

The memories of that terrible, horrible, no good, bad, day
are forever embedded in my soul
the memories are implanted in my body
held fast in my very being

Grief holds no time line
It is not a considered thing
It lies in the subconscious
The effects affect and trigger when least expected

That one action
That one disaster
has torn our family into pieces
has forced us all to face emotions and pain
Such devastating pain
far far too big to know what to do with

Even eight years on
The waves of grief are still pounding
They smash on the shores of our hearts
They tear our emotions into shreds
But we hold them close
Scared to let them go
Protecting our vulnerabilities

We share special moments
Memories
We can laugh
We can talk and reminisce
But the loss we endure is ours and ours alone
Held tight
Such a private thing
And yet so known
We can share
But we can’t
It’s so hard…

She deserves to live

“Being unable to tell your story is a living death, and sometimes a literal one.”
Rebecca Solnit

For the past 10 years I have been learning how to be the adult to my broken child
The child who endured traumas no child should ever have to
The child whose trust was broken over and over
The child who was continually silenced
The child who lived a double life
In constant trauma
In fear of many fears

The adult in me continues to live that double life
Because the silencing continues
No matter how strong this adult becomes
The fear
And the hurt
And the betrayals
The repercussions of all the damage
of all the traumas
Keep reappearing when least expected
When vulnerabilities are low
When circumstances allow the cracks to widen
So the strengths gained are cruelly eroded

No matter how hard I try
The voices of the non understanding ones
The antagonists continuing the victimisation of the perpetrators
Keep penetrating the mind of the unheard child

‘keep clear of her, she’s a total fruitloop, making allegations’
Seriously?
And they were there?
No they weren’t there
And they are still not there
The ones she needed
The ones she thought she could trust
The ones she should’ve been able to trust
Were not there
Are still not here

Protecting my inner child is exhausting
It is a constant daily
Her story deserves to be heard
She deserves to live
And I will fight to my death to allow her to live

Your inner child needs to trust you as the adult in their lives.
An adult who can watch over, protect, witness, honor, guide, lead, and love you.
This relationship between adult you and little you in one of the most sacred ones there is.
Vienna Pharaon

Thankfully this adult has been blessed
With a circle of support and love
That surpasses blood
That holds me when when my anguished child breaks
For this I am truly grateful

Again…

When my words stop flowing
They begin piling up within

Silencing begins slowly
One small trigger
That stops a word
That stops a sentence
And before I know it
My words have become dammed

Before I realise
The metaphoric hand is across my mouth
Again…
My words are held captive
Racing round and round
Within my brain
Out of control
Unable to find escape
Tormenting
Damning
Shaming
Me
Again…


When my words stop flowing
They begin piling up within
Like unread books
Stacked randomly
Teetering
With constrained
Vulnerability
On an unstable shelf

Until
The shelf fails
The books fall
Pages scatter
The metaphoric is torn away
Allowing my words escape
Liberated
Flooding forth
Demanding coherance
Gaining volume
Reclaiming power
And my healing process
Continues
Again…

Until my words stop flowing
Again….