Archive for Survival

I don't know my own feelingsOn the blog post about the feelings of loneliness in recovery a commenter wrote about “going blank” when she is asked how she ‘feels’ or what she “thinks” about something.  This is something that used to happen to me as well and it is another one of those pretty common reactions that people have.  The reaction of going blank or freezing at the question of “how do you feel” has an origin; it comes from somewhere and like all reactions it was something that I learned to do in order to deal with people.  Freezing or going blank for me became a coping method and a way to survive but there is a reason that my mind learned to shut off and react Read More→

Categories : Survival
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dysfunctional family and abuse“When a child has been in a dysfunctional family system, that child grows up with some dysfunctional thinking. It can’t be helped.  The dysfunctional ways of thinking in my family system got passed on to me. Dysfunction and mistreatment, psychological abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse all contributed to the survival methods that I had to adopt in order to stay alive”. ~Darlene Ouimet

I have this “to do” list. I tell myself that I am going to get “this much done” each day. I have it all mapped out.  But I don’t stick to the plan. I get distracted, I want to chat on the phone, I want to read a book, I want to spend more time on facebook talking to all my peeps and updating the Emerging from Broken facebook page.  I want to catch up on Twitter.  I tell myself that all these activities are part of the greater goals that I have to spread this message. But the truth is that I am not Read More→

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overcoming self blame, shame, guilt

a childs mind

The belief system that I am constantly speaking of does not form all at once or form completely from one event. This is where it gets complicated. Other events factor into it, some of them normal healthy childhood events that may have familiar feelings attached to them, and it is really easy to lump them all together.

When a child is devalued, abused, or discounted, it is a matter of necessity, (survival) to build an understanding or comprehension, and that comprehension becomes like a filter that we look through. Child sexual abuse, being put down, called a liar, made fun of and ignored, and being physically harmed all became part of my history and the way that I processed that history became part of this “grid or filter” that I viewed all events through.

Being ignored on the playground at school brought up familiar feelings of rejection.  My mind searched through my history for a reason that I had been rejected, and quickly related it to the feelings surrounding a trauma event. (Continued….) Read More→

Categories : Self Esteem, Survival
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Overcoming Trauma
in the mind of a child

I remember when I was talking about my first memory of being sexually abused. As I was speaking out loud about the details, being prompted for other tiny details and trying to remember even the thoughts I had about the trauma, I suddenly realized that I thought I could have stopped it. That ONE single belief caused a whole spiral of other problems for me and developed a very strong set of lies in my belief system. Because I thought I could have stopped the sexual abuse from happening, I also took responsibility for it happening. That led me to believe that I was a bad person. None of these thoughts were conscious. They happened as a result of that first subconscious belief that I could have stopped an adult from sexually assaulting me.  Because I thought I could have stopped it, but I didn’t stop it, I was filled with guilt and shame.  Guilt and shame that wasn’t mine, but guilt and shame that I thought was mine.

Here is the breakdown: Read More→

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Dissociative Identity
Lovely Hope

I am really excited to welcome guest writer Carla Logan today! Carla and I have become great friends on this journey to freedom. In her process of recovering from Dissociative Identity, (the multiple personality disorder kind) Carla has focused on getting to know each of her alters as individuals, which was very different from the methods that I used to overcome dissociative identity however we have discovered that the destination for all those who travel from broken to wholeness is always about the journey back to self. We celebrate the common goal and our mutual successes. Please share your comments and thoughts with us in the comments section. 

 ~ Darlene Ouimet, founder of emerging from broken.   

 D.I.D. and the Essence of Who I Am by Carla Logan

 There seems to be a common experience among abuse survivors, we don’t seem to know who we are, as a person.  What is the essence of who I am?  Where do I find myself?  What about me is real and what is not?  There is a disconnect that happens inside us, not only from the world around us and how we see and feel and interpret it, but also from ourselves in how we see and feel and interpret who we are.  There is so much junk to peel away and so much about our true selves to discover.

 My own struggle with this has been through the world of Dissociative Identity Disorder and it has been filled with turmoil and fear and self hatred, not only throughout the course of my life, but especially throughout my recovery process.  Discovering at the age of 46 that I had separated parts of self operating independent of the whole, was utterly devastating. I didn’t know what to do with this. I didn’t know how to feel about myself.  What to believe about myself.  I didn’t know how to find the real me in this newly discovered cast of characters who had all played the role of me all these years of my life, each in its own unique way.  Which one was the most true representative of me?  Read More→

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coping methods, multiple=
Staying with Me

No matter which coping method issue that I look at within myself I have determined the core of it to be related to trying to leave myself. There is a disconnection from myself that I developed when I was a child; it was my way to escape and I became attached to it. Every time I examine one of those “still tangled threads” I keep coming back to this disconnection that it seems I actually seek; escaping myself. I am convinced that at least one of the reasons that I am attached to this “leaving myself” is because when I was a child, dissociation is what worked for me.

Now I have to remind myself that any form of coping method, although it may have worked at one time, is an escape from me that doesn’t work anymore.

I used to have dissociative identity disorder. I had the kind that was once called multiple personality disorder. The name of it was changed to dissociative identity disorder because lots of people leave themselves or dissociate from themselves and from their identity without actually becoming someone else or having alter personalities. Although I did have alter personalities and I did switch, I have found many similarities to others with dissociative identity disorder that were simply just “dissociated”.

Recovery for me has been about coming home to myself. It is a journey back to me and it is not an easy journey because for about 43 years I tried my hardest to get away from me; dissociating was the way that I did life.  Somewhere between leaving me and coming back to me are the actual steps that I took to get the wholeness that I have today and that is what I write about.

As I take this recovery journey, I become more and more aware that the answers are within me, but when I forget that I start looking for answers outside of me.  I mistakenly think that validation from others is going to help me. I think that having more friends is going to help me. I think that having the most popular blog on the internet is going to help me or losing weight and getting fit is going to help me and I chase those things for a time and come up feeling disappointed and not knowing why. I have to remember that that my validation does not come from outside of myself.  

When I stay totally present it is as though I become “too aware” of myself. Life without coping methods means mega increased self awareness. When I become really aware of myself, I am subconsciously afraid that I might find out that I’m a disappointment, a failure and just plain not good enough.  In the past I took on all that self blame and shame and I needed to keep dissociating because I was too scared to be me, because I thought “me” was so bad. Deep down I am afraid that with too much self awareness, all those memories about being unlovable and unworthy might come rushing up to the surface. The fear has always been rooted in being afraid to find out that the beliefs I adopted about myself as a child, the beliefs that were “taught” to me through actions, abuse, and the behaviour of others, might be true.

I have not switched personalities for several years now and I rarely dissociate the way that I used to either. I have found myself and my purpose. I live my life with passion and conviction and go after my goals with determination. I love my children and I work on my relationship with each of them and on my relationship with my husband almost daily.  I love life. I love the freedom that I have found but sometimes I get going the wrong way too and I suddenly realize that I am facing something I haven’t faced before. And usually when I take a closer look I realize that I have tried to disconnect from myself again. I find myself, and then I get scared and try to leave myself, all the while trying not to admit that I am trying to get away from me again.

It is as though I believe that I can leave myself, in order to deal with myself, without having to feel anything myself. It never works, but I still try.  So for me, this journey is about remembering to STAY with me and that is about self love, self acceptance, self validation and self empowerment.  

 “They” said it was me… But they were wrong. And I have to keep reminding myself that they were wrong, because none of this leaving myself or trying to escape awareness of myself, is conscious. It happens without thought.  And so becoming more conscious is actually the goal. The more I face the fear of being present with myself, the more I realize that the fears are not real. I am afraid of lies; lies that I have spent years undoing and replacing with the truth.

I long for connection, freedom and peace but it is only in coming back to me that I find the freedom and peace that I long for and it is only in self connection that I get to keep it so that I can give it away. The good news is that the more often that I connect to myself, the more I remember that the keys to freedom are within.

And it is key for me to catch myself when I try to leave myself.   

What are your thoughts about this topic? Have you ever related a coping method to escaping yourself?

Darlene Ouimet

Founder of Emerging from Broken.

Related Posts ~ Keys to Living in the Present

Tomorrow I will start to face the pain

But HOW do I Recover?

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emotional healing from abuse

Healing and Holidays

Throughout the years of trying to change, I tried many things; in fact I tried almost everything that was suggested to me to try. Seminars, self help books, 12 step programs, I tried holistic medicine, cleanses, meditation, medication, vacations; I tried diet plans, fitness plans, naturopathic medicine, homeopathic medicine, you name it I likely tried it. Most of them became another obsession and another way to escape. And I am not saying that any of it was useless, just that none of it got me that much farther ahead. ALL of it was pointing me in the right direction towards emotional healing, but it just wasn’t the entire answer.

(NOTE: Something I noticed in the editing process of this post is that I opened this post with; “Throughout the years of trying to change” ~ See how deeply it goes? I never considered that I was trying to HEAL, just that I was trying to “change” as though I needed to “change” in order to be “okay” when in reality I was trying to give up coping methods without understanding why they were born.)

I was thinking about all the things I had tried attempting to enhance my recovery because of the quote I posted as a mental health tip on the emerging from broken facebook page. This is the quote: “Do not wait; the time will never be “just right”. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”  Napoleon Hill

I thought about this one thing that I told myself when I was trying to stay out of this coping method that was escaping into a fantasy life that I really loved to live in. The fantasy world was what I thought to be a “safe escape” but I was spending so much time there that I knew it was becoming self harming and destructive and that it wasn’t really helping me get where I really wanted to go.  I tried very hard to notice when I was going into that fantasy world, trying to catch myself before I was immersed in the depth of disconnection from reality. And I remember that for a long time I would tell myself “just this once more”.  I would promise myself that I would only escape there one more time.  I would plead and convince myself that it was not harmful, that it didn’t hurt anyone… that one more time would not really change or damage anything.

I did this with almost every coping method that I ever tried to give up.  I did it with binge eating. I did it with purging when I was bulimic. I did it with skipping my fitness programs when I was finally doing them for the right reasons. I even did it when I was going into a self berating spin and trying to learn to stop myself from beating myself up. I told myself that I would start tomorrow. Tomorrow would be the first day of my new life. Tomorrow I would make the necessary changes.

I did almost anything I could to avoid progressing into “better mental health”.

And when I finally noticed that I was doing this avoidance technique, I finally started looking at what I was avoiding. Why was I so afraid to STAY in reality? What was I avoiding taking a look at? What exactly was I trying so hard to escape from? WHY did I have so many coping methods?

And the answer, (or at least the root of the answer) of course was ME ~ I was trying to escape me. I was trying to avoid facing me but NOT for the reasons that I thought; 

Deep down I really truly believed that I was the problem and that was why I could empathize with you and see your value ~ I could validate you and try to convince you that you didn’t deserve whatever happened to you, but I could not see that for me. The reason I was so afraid to face reality was because I was afraid that I would find out that I HAD NO REAL VALUE and I was avoiding finding that out.

I had to stop running from that fatal lie and when I did, that is when everything began to change. That was when I began to emerge from broken. That was when I finally turned that corner and began to progress into the new life that I live now.

How does this resonate with you? I find this stuff MUCH harder at holiday times of the year. Please feel welcome to share your thoughts and comments.

Darlene Ouimet 

p.s. this is a process and I am not perfect.  When I was almost but not quite finished writing this blog post, I jumped up and grabbed some crackers out of the pantry. I got some raspberry jam and cream cheese out of the fridge and proceeded to make myself an afternoon snack. When I thought about what I had been doing when I decided I needed the snack, and that I wasn’t really hungry, I realized that for some reason sharing this post with you made me want to escape. And that is very much what it looks like for me ~ I suddenly feel like “running”.

Do I worry about it? No….. well at least not nearly as much as I used to… it is all part of the process of emotional recovery. I often feel insecure about writing the things I write and lately I have been looking at some of the unhealthy ways that I deal with those thoughts and insecurities.  And so today I decided to actually tell you. =)

Due to the depth of the comments on this post I wrote a follow up post which you can read by clicking the post title: “Before I faced the Pain I had to face the lies”

Are you aware my of my e-book “Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing”? If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you and you would like to find out “HOW” I broke out of the oppression I lived in, this 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to busting out of the fog and to healing. I’ve received hundreds of thank you notes from people that have bought my book. Get yours here for 9.97 through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

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overcoming sexual abuse
Christina Enevoldsen

It is my honor to have Christina Enevoldsen ~ Cofounder of the website Overcoming Sexual Abuse guest posting for Emerging from Broken today.

 The Problem with Being Fake by Christina Enevoldsen

Many years ago, I tried to cultivate a relationship with an acquaintance.  I listened attentively; I asked questions; I shared my thoughts and feelings. Nothing seemed to work.  I had the feeling I was spending time with a mannequin.  I tried for months to break through her plastic facade, but I never found anything vulnerable or real.  I knew facts about her—carefully constructed data—but I didn’t really know her.  One day, in exasperation, I told her to drop her phony act and be herself.  I assured her that I’d like the real her, but the fake stuff was driving me crazy.  Not surprisingly, my pep talk didn’t inspire intimacy.  She backed off in a big way and we rarely spoke after that. 

 I crave intimacy and deep connections, so masks have always turned me off.  I want to know what you’re really passionate about.  What are your deepest fears?  How are you really feeling?  I don’t care about the weather; I don’t want to know what you bought at the mall.  Tell me who you really are. 

 The funny this is, for most of my life, I’ve been covered by a facade.  My childhood abuse gave me a distorted image of myself and I was convinced people wouldn’t like the real me. I couldn’t articulate just what was so bad; I just knew that the real me was impossible to love.  I desperately wanted acceptance and thought that covering up was the only way to have that. 

 I’ve worn a variety of masks for different occasions and for different people.  I made it a habit to study others to figure out what they wanted so I could conform to their desires.  I’d gauge their reactions and adjust my performance accordingly.   

 I thought wearing masks would make me more likeable, but it was actually making me less likeable. I eliminated the possibility for deep relationships by constructing a barrier.  Looking back, I can see why I experienced so much rejection, even from nice people.  They couldn’t relate to my false front.  Even if someone connected with that false persona, it wasn’t the type of connection I longed for, since it was based on a lie.  I could never have real intimacy.

 I rejected my true self before I even gave people the chance to accept or reject me.  The rejection of my true self led to putting on a false self, which led to rejection by others, which led to more rejection from me.  What a very vicious cycle that was! 

 I discovered that before I could have a satisfying relationship with others, I had to have a satisfying relationship with myself.  I couldn’t have that as long as I was covered in shame and self-loathing.  I needed to see the real me instead of the lies my abuse taught me.  I needed to sort through those lies and accept the truth so I could see my value and love myself. 

 When I learned to accept myself, I let the real me shine through.  I can connect with others now since I’m connected to myself.  I have deeply fulfilling relationships based on truth—who I really am—a unique and lovable person.

Christina Enevoldsen

Christina Enevoldsen is cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse, an online resource for male and female abuse survivors looking for practical answers and tools for healing. Christina’s passions are writing and speaking about her own journey of healing from abuse and inspiring people toward wholeness. She and her husband live in Los Angeles and share three children and three grandchildren.

Overcoming Sexual Abuse also has a very active facebook page.

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comfort zones and coping methods

Have you ever had a comfy pair of bed sheets that were so soft and perfect that you didn’t want to throw them out and you kept patching and sewing them when they fell apart? What about a pair of perfect shoes or a pair of jeans that were the best fit ever and it was a very sad day when they were threadbare and had to go to the trash. Letting go is hard. Letting go of anything is hard.

My slippers are wearing out. They are my favorite; soft suede upper with sheepskin type soft comfy fluffy lining inside. Well that is how they used to be anyway. Now, they are wearing out and actually they are not as comfortable as they once were; in fact the support is going in them, and sometimes I slide to one side and go over a bit on my ankle, but still I can’t wait to put them on when I get out of bed or when come home. They are comforting and familiar; they are my slippers. They fit my feet; they are warm and cozy, like wearing pillows, soothing me after a long day. Well at least they used to do all that. They are not really doing ALL that anymore.  But I still want to wear them, I don’t want to replace them, I don’t want to let them go, I keep remembering how great they were one time. 

Looking back, before I decided to deal with my depression, low self esteem, dissociative identity problems, bi polar, post traumatic stress disorder ~ well you get the picture, I was like that with my life. I didn’t realize it but I was comfortable with my coping methods and I thought they worked. When I was a child I escaped into a fantasy world. When I was a teenager, I added to that fantasy world escaping into books, food, and then alcohol. I escaped into drugs to cope with the results of escaping into food. I had serious depressions which were a direct result of not having any help dealing with things. It got complicated. I liked not dealing with things; when I was a child I had no choice, I didn’t have any help to deal with anything; I had no support. Not dealing with things became the way that I lived. Coping methods became the way that I survived. Not facing the truth, not standing up for myself; all of that felt safer than trying to deal with things that I had never been given the tools to deal with. 

So my coping methods; depressions, binge eating or starving, over exercising, flirting, dangerous relationships dissociating and disconnecting were all familiar and comfortable but just like the slippers, my coping methods were not working anymore.  Oh I tried to make them work. I believed that they would work again, because I could not stop remembering that they worked in the past ~ when I was a child.

Just like when I was a child, I kept getting my reality mixed up with my fantasy ~ kept thinking that my coping methods were the answer, and that they would work again the way they used to work. I thought that if I could just be who my mother wanted me to be, she would finally love me. I thought that if I could just impress my father enough, he would finally notice me. I carried this struggle with me into other relationships and recreated not being good enough to be loved or noticed. And I used coping methods, many different ones over the years and I thought they worked and when they didn’t work anymore, and when they became the problem, I changed the coping method, but the belief system was still in place; the comfortable familiar belief system.  I ended up needing coping methods to deal with my coping methods, all of which kept me safe from looking at the root causes, because deep down I believed that I could not face that kind of pain.

Round and round I went, spinning in an ever increasing cycle of fantasy, depression and low self esteem, disconnecting from the truth, even when I got a glimpse of it, because I facing the truth would mean that I had to take some sort of action, maybe take a good look at my life and the people in it, maybe make some changes.. and it just seemed easier to grab those old slippers.

But as most of you know, I didn’t stay there.

A whole new way to thrive;

Darlene Ouimet          

Announcement:

Therapist John Wilson from ~ Online Events ~ presents ~ Emerging From Broken – Interview with Darlene Ouimet on Sunday Nov.03 at 12:00 Noon Pacific, 3:00 pm EST and 1:00 pm Mountain time. London: 8:00 pm, Sydney: 5:00 am. Please visit the following link in order to reserve your ticket. Click on the first box ~ there is no charge for the live event. Hope to “see” you there.  http://emergingfrombroken.eventbrite.com/

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Overcoming Depression

I was labelled as a story teller from a very young age. I remember my parents saying that I talked to hear myself talk. Although I don’t remember exactly what I used to do, apparently I was a little bit dramatic and I pretended that I needed help a lot and I was told that I would scream “help” for no reason. I remember when I was a little bit older in childhood years that I believed I was a liar and made things up, probably because I had been told that I was.

To put this in another way, I learned to question my memories ~ I learned to doubt myself. I learned to believe that I exaggerated and was a story teller. And I also remember embellishing the truth, nothing serious or life threatening, just kid stuff, but I think I did it for attention. I was so starved for attention and I think I did it because no one ever HEARD me.  So mix a little truth in with a little false, and add the mind of an abused child to the recipe, and you have some understandable results.

I do remember being told the story of the little boy who cried wolf especially after this one event when I got in a lot of trouble but I really did need help that time. 

I was about eight years old and my cousin was being baptised and we were all gathered at my grandparents for a big family after party. My grandmother smoked cigarettes and she had a lit cigarette in her hand and the kitchen was really crowded.  I was small, and I looking up and I remember seeing her cigarette as she held it above her head and navigated her way through the crowd, BUT she bumped into my grandfather; her cigarette hit him in the forehead, and as I was looking up at both of them, the burning embers fell into my eyes and onto my eyebrows and face. I screamed. I was no longer able to see, but I remember my father grabbing me by the arm and very sternly saying “that’s it”. I was about to get spanked for screaming, but someone explained to him what happened, or he saw my face and eyes, I am not sure about that part, but I didn’t get spanked. He had to go to the pharmacy to get something for my eyes. And that is when I got the lecture. I remember being told that this was a prime example of why I should not scream for help when I didn’t need help because my father admitted that he was going to spank me for screaming for what he assumed was for “no reason”.

All my life I remembered having the embers falling in my eyes as a shameful event. It was the time when something bad happened to me, but because I was so naughty and always screamed for help when i didn’t need help, that this bad thing, which was an accident, became a reaffirmation that I was a bad girl who screamed for attention (help) when I didn’t need it.

It was very hard for me to sort these particular things out, because there were a few other significant memories that added to the cigarette accident, and intertwined with it forming an even more solid belief system about myself. This is about how the foundation formed and about how I regarded myself ~ how I was able to end up blaming myself for the sexual abuse, neglect, physical abuse and the resulting depressions, failures, and so many other things. 

I will guess that I was between 7 and 9 years old when I did this horrible thing. I faked a nightmare. I had SO much trouble sleeping as a child, it seemed like I laid awake in bed for hours every night and in the daytime I tried so hard to get my father’s attention and I must have gotten some attention at one time from having nightmares (I do recall that I had a lot of real ones) so I screamed and cried and my father came in and he held me. Instead of that being a wonderful memory however, it was something I remembered for the rest of my life. It was an embarrassing memory filled with guilt and shame because I pretended to have a nightmare for attention ~ proving to myself that I was a liar and a faker. It was just one of the “things I did” that proved in my mind that it really was me that was the problem, that I brought it all on myself.

That time I lied, I was attention seeking, I was making something up, I was exaggerating, I was a bad girl and it was no wonder that my parents didn’t love me, didn’t want to listen to me, didn’t want to protect me from monsters that they told me only existed in my head. When I told the truth, I was ignored; I was told that I must be wrong, so I linked those admonishments to the times where I had been lying.

So let’s do a quick recap; (click on the sentence to see the related blog post)

~My first memory of sexual abuse was at the age of a little over two.  I don’t know if I told or not, but I was left to deal with it. 

~We have a story about how my mother dressed me up in a black lace teddy at the age of 6 and sending me out to dance in front of my father’s business associate, which I relate to being the beginning of learning that my value was sexual.

~We have the story of me telling my parents that I was being emotionally abused by a teacher and they didn’t believe me.

~In the present post we have a story of my being under a little shower of burning embers and getting heck for it, because it was a great way to “teach me” that I should not tell stories.

~ In the present post we have the story of an actual lie that I did tell. Yes there were others.

~ Then when I was 14, when my mother said it was in fact my fault that I got sexually assaulted in the night by her boyfriend… I accepted that.

If you keep in mind that as children we can’t blame our parents, because we believe they have the power to allow us to live or die, which means that our only choice is to change and be good enough to be loved ~ then do you see how these combined events worked together to help form my false belief system? Can you see how they led me to believe and accept false things about why I was not protected from emotional harm, and from sexual abuse? Can you relate to how I was convinced that it was me? That I was bad? I was unworthy of love, protection, and even simple affection and comfort?

It was in breaking this all down that I was able to understand how I came to those conclusions about myself. It was in understanding how the false belief system formed, that I was able to take it apart, re-wire it and put it back together in truth.

Please share anything you want to share, or if this post triggers memories in any way you are welcome to share them here if you wish.  

Darlene Ouimet

Announcement:

Therapist John Wilson from ~ Online Events ~ presents ~ Emerging From Broken – Interview with Darlene Ouimet on Sunday Nov.03 at 12:00 Noon Pacific, 3:00 pm EST and 1:00 pm Mountain time. London: 8:00 pm, Sydney: 5:00 am. Please visit the following link in order to reserve your ticket. Click on the first box ~ there is no charge for the live event. Hope to “see” you there.  http://emergingfrombroken.eventbrite.com/

Categories : Survival
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