Archive for Freedom & Wholeness
If you have not already downloaded my complimentary Guide to Getting Unstuck on the Journey to Emotional Healing, please grab a copy of it now! There is a box in the right hand side bar here>>> just fill in your first name (or any name you wish to use) and your primary email address and you will be sent the download link. In this 9 page mini booklet I answer some of the most popular questions that I get here on the Emerging from Broken blog, privately through the contact form and on the Emerging from Broken Facebook Page.
Welcome to the discussion page for the Guide to Getting Unstuck on the Journey to Emotional Healing.
As you may notice when you read the guide, there is a common thread expressed through the most popular questions that I get asked. Behind the questions is the belief that the people who have been authority in our lives are ‘right’. That if the people that have authority in our lives say in words or with actions such as disregard or disrespect, that we don’t deserve better or that we are not worthy, then for some reason their opinion is not questioned as much as it is ‘accepted’.
This is because for most of us it was communicated to us from a very young age that ‘they’ know best and that ‘they’ are right and that ‘they’ are not to be questioned. This belief is linked to the belief that ‘without them’ we may not survive. As an adult I had to work very hard at realizing that I COULD survive; through facing the origins of my belief system and how it was formed I was able to see my own strength; I was able to take my life back and learn to love myself and take care of myself. I learned this by seeing the truth about why I believed that I was ‘less important’ and why I ‘accepted’ that my needs were less valid than the needs of others. Seeing the roots of why I believed this about myself enabled me to see that it was a lie and that I was just as worthy and valid as everyone else on this planet!
People in authority are not always right just because they are in authority. I had not considered that truth when I was a child and growing up because of my dependence on those people. Going against the adults and caregivers in my life threatened my survival and therefore my life. That was true then. Seeing that it was no longer true was a huge part of how I was able to take my life back and overcome the manifestations of trauma, abuse and neglect. (When I refer to the manifestations I am referring to the resulting struggles such as depressions, post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative identity disorder, anxiety, eating disorders, low self-esteem and a few other common issues.)
There is another common belief expressed behind these questions; it leaks out through the questions how many of us had never been taught that we have the right to have boundaries and how habitual it is to accept that our feelings are not valid. I was taught that I ‘had’ to accept things the way they were. The funky part of that teaching is that many of the things I learned to accept were truly unacceptable but they were so normalized that I didn’t know they were wrong; in some cases the treatment was even Read More→
One of the biggest stick points on the journey to emotional healing has to do with the subject of TRUST. Somewhere along the way I came to believe that I had to trust people until they were proven untrustworthy. That is a false understanding of trust. It was through understanding how I learned the meaning of the word ‘trust’ in a manipulative way that really only served the ones teaching me that false definition of the word trust, that I was able to realize the truth; I didn’t have to trust anyone until they proved to be trustworthy. By the same token, I do not expect people to blindly trust me either. Trust in healthy relationship develops over time. Trust in healthy relationship is not mandatory and ‘blind trust’ does not prove acceptance or love. NOT trusting someone does not mean anything ‘bad’ and it is not a judgement against that person. Not trusting someone that you don’t know well enough to decide about trusting or not, is healthy. When I am expected or required to trust someone blindly, I consider that a red flag about the person who has this expectation of me.
From the Free Dictionary.com ~ Here is the definition of trust:
1. Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing.
2. Custody; care.
3. Something committed into the care of another; charge.
Noun~ Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something
Verb~ Believe in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of
Based on this definition of Trust, I can see how I had the false understanding of the word and concept in the first place.
Trust is optional. Trust is something that needs to be earned more than it needs to be freely given without any knowledge of the persons ability, strength or reliability. As children, everyone older than us has ‘positional power’ over us. We learn to submit to that positional power because NOT submitting to it is a sure way to bring on a punishment, rejection, physical abuse and a host of other unwanted results. I learned to submit to positional power and I got my learned understanding of submission mixed up with the concept of trust.
As children we are taught to trust through other people; the people in charge of our welfare communicate Read More→
Part 2 continues in this 2 part guest article by Pam Witzemann. Please read part 1 “The Process of Forgiving…” for additional information and helpful context.
My Reckoning Journey on the path to Forgiving my Parents by Pam Witzemann
Being able to forgive my parents for abusing me, as a child, came at the conclusion of my healing journey. I found the ability to forgive at the end of a long reckoning process which enabled me to forgive from a position of power that was not dependent upon any action on the part of my parents.
During the reckoning process, which must take place before forgiving an abuser is possible, offenses are named and counted. Damage caused by the abuse is assessed and culpability assigned to those responsible for the abuse. The amount of damage sustained and the number of years that healing requires, determines the length of that process. My process began when I was nineteen. Now, I’m 56 and though I believe myself to be healed, there were many plateaus, during which I believed I had conquered my past. There were many times that I thought I’d forgiven what needed to be forgiven only, to have another layer of trauma and damage revealed.
The first abuser I dealt with was me. It was through my faith that I was able to stop abusing myself, by stopping my self-abusive behavior. Of all my abusers, I think I did myself the most damage but without their tutelage, I never would have thought to treat myself, as I once did. Even though I stopped my outward, self-destructive actions, it wasn’t until I confronted the truth about the other abusers in my childhood, that I was able to stop emotionally and psychologically, abusing myself, by blaming myself for their actions. This didn’t begin to take place until about six years ago. After stopping my self-abuse, I had to assess the damage.
In my twenties, my PTSD was severe and I didn’t even understand it as emotional illness. My depressions were so immobilizing that I thought I had some terrible disease and was dying. My emotions were so divorced from reality that the depression seemed to Read More→
This week I’m excited to welcome back to Emerging from Broken, guest writer and fellow blogger Pam Witzemann as she tackles the difficult subject of ‘forgiveness.’ In this in-depth two part article, Pam takes a look at some of the difficulties surrounding forgiveness, experienced by survivors of child abuse. Pam is a regular participant in almost all the discussions here in EFB and has her own blog; “Boomer Back-beat ~ Talking bout our generation”. As always I am looking forward to the conversation~ please contribute your thoughts and insights! ~ Darlene Ouimet
The Process of Forgiving Child Abusers by Pam Witzemann
Part I: Defining Forgiveness; for Victims of Childhood Abuse
It isn’t easy to forgive an abuser especially a child abuser. Victims of childhood abuse need to have a right concept of forgiveness because it is so often, twisted into a weapon of abuse. This causes confusion on the part of the victim and denies them access to the freedom from the past that true forgiveness can bring.
Parents who abused their children are likely to demand their adult child forgive them for the past but may never acknowledge any wrong doing or accept any responsibility for their actions. The truth is that they aren’t interested in being forgiven. People who want forgiveness are filled with remorse and though it may hurt to verbally admit to what they’ve done, they will do so because being forgiven by the person they have hurt is important to them.
What many abusers want instead of forgiveness is for the abused person to forget what was done to them, over-look it, and not hold them responsible for it. They also need their victims to remain silent and when that silence is threatened, they demand forgiveness and declare that any relational problems are due to the victim’s unwillingness to forgive. These lies cause confusion and abusive people know that causing confusion in others, works in their favor. There is nothing that confuses a childhood abuse survivor more than the forgiveness ploy.
All survivors desperately, want to be free from their past and in our culture, we are taught that forgiveness abolishes sins. This is true but as with all truth, abusers twist the truth into a self-serving lie. Therefore, it is important for child abuse survivors to arm themselves with a true understanding of what abuse is, what it is not, and to know with certainty, what they, as the victims, are Read More→
The other night we had a birthday dinner for our oldest son. All of our kids were home as well as a few of their friends. The conversation was lively, everyone was included, there was laughter, jokes, intellectual conversation about the chemistry my son studies and the neuroscience my oldest daughter studies. All kinds of information was shared and everyone had a voice. There were jokes and stories; everyone at the table was equally important.
I love those family dinners. We were joking with our youngest daughters friend who had never had dinner with us before this evening; we were explaining during our laughter about ‘bathroom talk at the table’ that this is how we are sometimes and we hoped we didn’t scare her off. She felt comfortable enough to add a few of her own jokes and the next day she texted our daughter saying “your family is awesome”.
I was thinking about our family dinners and how amazing they are. We talk to each other and we listen to each other. We are genuinely interested in each other! There are no cell phones or electronic media allowed at the table. We usually sit around talking about every subject under the sun well after the meal is over even when we don’t have company and it is just the 5 of us. This is incredible to me!
These dinners and this kind of communication are what make me feel the most successful as a mother. I was saying to my husband that sometimes when we are all sitting around eating, talking and laughing that I feel as though I Read More→
Deep in my subconscious mind (my belief system) I have always thought that taking some leisure time was the same as being lazy. When I started to learn how to do self-care, that little “feeling” constantly whispering to me that I was being lazy began to get stronger. I found that when I took time off to just kick around, read a book or watch a movie, deep down I would reprimand myself. I wasn’t even aware that I was doing it for a very long time.
If I was spending my leisure time with my kids are with another person I was not so hard on myself because I knew that was important to the relationships that I have with them, but if I was just doing something to rejuvenate ME, I got a little restless. I really noticed my conflict with this when my oldest two children moved out of the house to attend school this fall.
Because we are selling the farm/ranch I had spent the summer cleaning, packing, sorting, purging and organizing 30 years worth of accumulated stuff and as a result of all that hard work I feel really caught up on everything. I feel really good about having done all of this but emotionally it took a toll on me. It has been an emotional roller coaster to decide to let go of this life here and on top of that to have two kids move out of the house! Add that to the level of emotion that I invest in this website and with my clients and I found I needed some extra time for myself this past few months.
BUT when I took that time I realized that my self-talk was whispering some judgemental things to me. I was hearing words like lazy and unproductive barely under the surface of my subconscious mind.
Within minutes of reading my clients homework, I get a glimpse of what is operating under the surface in their belief systems but when it comes to me it takes a little more work because I am up against MY OWN belief system. And since our belief systems form in the first place as a way to help us survive, sometimes they are not easy to crack into.
I was journaling about this whole thing and as I was experiencing a deeper realization that when I take time off I feel guilty about it, I suddenly heard my mother’s voice talking about my father.
This is where it gets complicated. My father, as I have talked about in other posts was emotionally unavailable. He was a passive abusive father and husband. He abused by his passive ‘whatever’ kind of attitude towards everything. My mother used to say that the house could be burning down and my father would sit in the middle of it playing his guitar and ignoring the emergency. As an adult today I can see why she said that. My mother could not get my father to do anything or even to ‘react to anything’ and I remember as a child thinking Read More→
I am pleased to welcome Kylie Devi back to Emerging from Broken. In January of 2012, Kylie wrote a guest post about having been sexually abused as a child and how much trouble she had getting professional help dealing with it. There were some unforeseen results due to her sharing this information however and this new post is about her abusers confronting her about that blog post and her reaction to that confrontation; how it froze her and how she got through it. It will be helpful for you to get the whole picture by reading her original blog post first. Please help me welcome Kylie back! ~ Darlene
Breaking Through the Fear of Speaking About Child Abuse by Kylie Devi
In January of this year, I wrote a blog post sharing my experience with the “get better industry.” I shared how I felt that traditional psychology and social work failed me when I really needed it. And how I pulled myself out of the trenches of the horrors of sexual, emotional, and physical abuse as well as a ten year battle with drug addiction.
The belief I shared is that any industry designed to help me “get better” is only going to thrive when I don’t get better. An example of this is that the medical industry doesn’t thrive when nobody is sick, seeing doctors, or buying pharmaceuticals. Therefore, they are invested in people being sick. Make sense?
My main purpose for sharing this blog post was to reach out and say, hey, we all have our own unique path to healing… and it’s really awesome when we can share with each other too. For me, both of these are implicit – we have to do the work ourselves, but it is so powerful when we can participate in communities full of people who are also “doing the work.”
I do believe it was received that way by many people who read it, but there were some other people who weren’t too excited about what I had to say.
In February, I got a phone call from my main abuser saying: “I read your little blog post, what are you doing? Trying to get attention? Who abused you, and why am I hearing about it in this way?”
(I would like to say that “your little blog post” was kind of comedic to me, since this is a highly trafficked website that has helped thousands of people.)
And then 3 more phone calls from my other Read More→
Recently there was a discussion about “Acceptance” here in the Emerging from Broken website. People were expressing difficulty with having been constantly told to “accept others” for the way they are. This directive always seems to be issued when someone is expressing difficulties with having been devalued, discounted and mistreated. I have come to realize that this is where the difficulty lies. When we are directed to accept, it is implied that acceptance means to accept the abusive behavior of the other person. This misunderstanding and false teaching gets deeply mixed into many relationships and is used as a justification for all kinds of abuse.
Accepting others the way they are is a more appropriate directive when the person wears strange clothing, or likes to eat weird bugs; acceptance of political or religious views that are not like mine are also good examples. But accepting others because they swear at me, talk down to me, devalue and disrespect me or completely dismiss me as a person ~ those are actions that I don’t have to accept. We should NOT be encouraged to accept unacceptable behavior.
I don’t have any problem with accepting the way other people are. I have a problem with accepting unacceptable behavior. I can accept that my mother doesn’t want to respect me. But that means that she doesn’t get to have respect FROM me either and that seems to be what other people have problems with. I am accused of disrespecting her because Read More→
I have had great responses in the past when I have shared poetry! This poem was sent to me from Karenina in response to my article about “self talk and self care”. While reading this poem it really helped me to understand and to keep in mind that Karenina is speaking to herself. Her older self is speaking to her younger self similar to some of the ways that I talk about “re-parenting” the self and re uniting with herself. Please share your thoughts with Karenina and I about this poem she has written. ~ Darlene
“All is lost, and it seems to haunt you, I know
You were always sure of yourself,
Now I see you broken and bitter
I hope we can patch it up together.
Chiquitita, tell me the truth
I’m the shoulder you can cry on,
You’re best friend,
I’m the one you must rely on.
Chiquitita, you will not cry
While the sun is still in the sky and shining above you
You’ll be dancing once again, and the pain will end
I will be the one to love you.” ~ “Chiquitita” by Abba
The Old Time-Traveler by Karenina
I am your elder and though I was born from you,
I am your real true mother and cannot but love you.
I know your soul, and I know your good intent.
I know how hard you try to understand the thoughts
or thoughtlessness of others who claim to love you.
I know how sincerely you strive to make Read More→