Keys to Living in the Present (the password is “the past”)

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one day at a time
“I saw the light” by Azelinn

I thought that my present could be resolved by talking about what was wrong with the present… but it turned out it was resolved by sorting out what went wrong in the past. And I had been told all my life to live for today so …… you can imagine the conflict!  

This is one of the most foundational messages that I have to deliver. It is one of those things I just didn’t realize. Living in the present sounded so right and so perfect, I strived for that ideal, never realizing that what was in my way was the unresolved past. We hear things that can back up our belief in these sayings, such as “you can’t change the past” and “live one day at a time” and “live for today” and my favourite of all ~ “If you have one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow, you are peeing on today”. When I look back over the years when I tried so hard to live by these sayings, I realize that they did me no good. I thought that acceptance was the answer, but I really didn’t know what I was trying to accept and so I accepted the blame and responsibility for abuse and for relationship difficulties that were there far before I was ever old enough to be a problem or even a factor in the demise of any one of them.

I got living for today and accepting the past mixed up with the realization that I can’t change the past, forgetting that the goal in healing from the past is not to change the past, it is to resolve it. The goal was to be ABLE to put it behind me in order for me to be able to live in freedom; to be able to LIVE in the present moment.

And I got so used to running from today that I didn’t know I was running.  I got so used to thinking that I WAS living in this day, and so accustomed to avoiding those feelings by using any number of coping mechanisms and escape tools, that my coping mechanisms rode piggyback on each other and every time I resolved or exposed and untangled one escape route, my cleaver surviving mind switched and adopted another one. The survival instinct is very strong and I got so messed up that I didn’t KNOW that I was even in survivor mode. I didn’t know that my coping methods were because my brain was so badly wired that it thought the escape tools WERE better and safer for me. I thought the problems WERE the answers.  

In order to live in the present I had to be willing to actually LOOK at what I was running from. I had to ask myself ~ why did I disconnect and dissociate. Why did I use food for comfort? Why did I go to bed for days on end? I had to ask myself what I was afraid of feeling. I had to become aware of my survival methods and look at where they came from; what they developed as a result of ~ and guess what??? All those questions led me back to the past.

But when I answered those questions one by one, month after month, over time I was able to stop using all those coping methods.  Little by little, as I understood the past and where my desire to run was born they just seemed to fall away and the more that they fell away, the more that I was able to live in today. And not just live in today, but LIVE. THRIVE.  Really live with the new energy that I found I had when I didn’t have to use all my energy to COPE so dang much. 

For the most part, I live in the moment today. The work that I do with Emerging from Broken is my chosen purpose and in order to shed light on how I found my own freedom, I write about my past almost every day in one way or another, however I do not live in the past any longer because my past is resolved. Today, the past is in the past and I can actually appreciate all those lovely quotes, understanding the true intention behind the sayings now.

Keep going, keep growing and please share with me and the other readers!

Darlene Ouimet

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 many 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

Related posts ~ “the problem with living one day at a time”

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“tomorrow I will start to face the pain”

“self validation for emotional abuse”

 

 

68 response to "Keys to Living in the Present (the password is “the past”)"

  1. By: Amira Posted: 15th January

    Hmmm. I dont even know where to begin with this one. Its hard for me I think because I dont remember a time when it became past, and wasnt actually occuring in the present anymore in some form or fashion until after I already knew all the “why” answers and purposefully took myself out of the abusive dynamics of my life that were so detrimental to all of it….even still some days I question if what I remember and think and “feel” is real and true…and so I am 100% aware that my abuse had an effect on my perceptions and thats part of why it continued for so many years without me even thinking of it as abuse. I was sure that I was the problem and that my perceptions werent really how things were going. That has (and still is the most difficult part of the journey for me) I doubt EVERYTHING I think/say/do/feel/experience.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th January

      Amira,
      You are not alone. The beginning or knowing a beginning is a tough place ~ I think you have already made a beginning. I still have to reasure myself that my thinking is clear and that I am not that person that everyone seemed to indicate was “wrong”. And in each new situation in my “new life” I put things through my new grid and still have to think a lot. It gets better though. It is no where near as intense as it used to be! This is one of the biggest parts of the process of recovery. In some ways being aware of it this way and questioning myself was at least a step closer to where I used to be when I never questioned anything and just went along with it. At least you are questioning and you are aware of the doubts. I think this is a positive.
      Thank you so much for sharing!
      Hugs, Darlene

  2. By: Monica Posted: 15th January

    Louise ~ “I think what’s important in life are the hidden hopes we promote in other people’s lives.” THIS LITERALLY TOOK MY BREATH AWAY. THANK YOU. I find this a very powerful wording of a value I believe in very strongly. And you are living it. Blessings to you. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. By: Gabrielle Posted: 15th January

    Louise, wow… I almost have no words. I felt every word you wrote. You are an inspiration and I’m so glad you held on. I’m glad you didn’t give up and I’m glad you’re here. Thank you and God bless you!

  4. By: carol Posted: 15th January

    Zoe i can so relate to your way of dealing with things, but my emotions sorta got left in the past. now that i have some great tools to help me see my worth and know that it wasnt and isnot my fault, tools to help me recognise when i at fault or the conditioning i have been put through as a child. i have grown in awareness and in some areas i can actually blend into society and they would never know that i have been so truamatised by my childhood and early adulthood. the bit that gets me is when my mask that gets me through doing this socialising then trips me up when i cannot reach the behavioural levels people then expect from me. so on bad days when i have regressed abit and am more volatile they give me hassle and pile on the pressure which leads to further regressions. yet havving all this new awarenss has helped me spot problems faster so that the impact is limited or avioded which ever is the case, and carry on doin as much as i can to get where i feel i dont need to heal every day, but just when an issue raise its head
    darlene, i was on f/b last nite and came to pretty much the same realisation. i took away my perception and not their intentions so im gona go back n see em in a few wks and see where we go from there, i think i need to let them see the behind the door person and not the social persona that gets me doing all i do

  5. By: Louise Posted: 15th January

    I just tried answering these questions you asked yourself here ‘Why did I use food for comfort? Why did I go to bed for days on end? I had to ask myself what I was afraid of feeling. I had to become aware of my survival methods and look at where they came from; what they developed as a result of…?’
    And these were my answers and a bit of what I thought about them:-

    Why do you use food for comfort? – Reliable, hope, break, enjoyment, comfort. People look at their food and not me. It’s like good touch I couldn’t get, it’s safe I can control it.

    Why do you go to bed for days on end? – No feeling, numb, no thought. Space, softness, no expectations, no needs or wants. Not existing, Breathing quieter so I take less (air even). Life hurts. Making myself smaller, hiding, trying to disappear, get smaller, a refuge (no one disturbs because your ‘ill’ or ‘sleeping’. Taking baths is the same, or a toilet or a place with a locked door or a quiet place no one goes). Want to cease existing.

    What are you afraid of feeling? – Reason for anguish. Reason I literally wanted to get out of my body. The truth. Terror. More abuse. Afraid of being hurt again or hurting myself. Afraid of the situations that come up where I can’t express my truth and just swallow what people say I am. I feel horror/distress all the time but it’s the cause(s) of that horror I’m afraid of. It’s like I’m stuck on a silent scream.

    What are your survival methods? – Staying still so as not to feel. Locking myself in places, a room, the car, hiding in the footwell of a car, behind a curtain. Causing myself pain (concentrates mind & lowers anxiety). Waiting, waiting, waiting for it to be over, go away, for it to come for something else to change it. Removing self from pain and confusion by ‘going’, hardening myself inside ‘steeling’ myself to cope,trying not to need, splitting my mind from my body and reality altogether so that I didn’t ‘come back’ to normal consciousness or social requirements, I ‘went’ beyond those even. I didn’t care about how I was or behaved because I was no longer there. It was too much stress to live up to social expectations or interactions expected of me by people, too much was asked of me. Pretending nothing happened, pretending something else happened or I was ‘in another world, family, place, time. Screaming and rage (to get the tension out). Hiding the bad stuff, not moving as a small child, sitting protectively, holding myself stiff like a board. Covering mirrors. Staying awake as long as possible.

    Where did they come from? Tearing inside and having to stay silent – being unable to cry/scream when it hurt, dirty feeling, skin hurting, anguish, pain, fear of sleeping and night time, fear of men/people, distrust of people I was supposed to be loved/helped by. Betrayal, double hurts, a hurt on a hurt on a hurt with no time for one thing to get better before the next thing happened. Intense shyness/shame (especially about my mouth/ in the mornings). Trying to stay awake so that it wouldn’t happen. Ghosts with hands. Can’t escape, can’t get away, can’t breathe, held down, almost smothered.

    What did they develop as a result of? Being hurt, being falsely accused, being unable to express my innocence, accepting guilt for something I didn’t do, being unable to say anything because I was choked by silence, taking an adult’s sense of responsibility as a child, forcing control by A- hurting myself, B-Not doing the right thing (twisted cry for help) C – Creating illness by hurting myself, burning myself D – Blaming myself so it’s not them. Invisible enemies – Don’t want to or can’t identify them. None of my survival methods worked.

    The last thing that none of my survival methods worked because I did give up again and again, and still remained, and that none of them stopped what was happening. The only thing that worked was the waiting and giving up, and expecting that change would come. Nothing else was trustworthy, therefore everything betrayed me… all the normal things people strive for in life, became and meant nothing to me. I had no prayers, no one to pray to, nothing but air and my mind and well meaning people who tried to help. It got to the point where even the air hurt so I hurt inside all the way through to the outside and from the outside back again. I didn’t believe people. I hated everything, the helplessness in that others couldn’t help themselves or me and I couldn’t help myself, pain was the only thing I could feel. Everyone and everything was a traitor. You have to have a reason to live, to survive and I didn’t have and couldn’t think of a reason. I stayed alive in the hope that one day a reason might come – that was my reason. I stayed alive in the hope that one day there might be a reason to live.

    When you’ve gone beyond pain more times than anyone can imagine, painlessness is sufficient reason to enjoy life, the ability to breathe is sufficient reason for contentment, freedom to choose silence or sound. stillness or movement is sufficient liberty, and the ability to spend your time directing your attention as you wish is the greatest wealth. Comfort in your own body is like gold and conquering your own terror is like an eternal purple heart no one can ever take away from you. Inner battles with their inside scars are the most fiercely fought and gruelling ever; battles unseen and never known. The greatest survival tool is the mind and the spirit that drives it through the darkness.

    I don’t have any armour or weapons or medals of valour to show for my fight. I can’t shed light on the worst times all I can do is show up after it’s over and the sun’s coming up – still here. And maybe when I can respect the truth of that and look people in the eye knowing my true worth; knowing I know what it takes to exist with only my clinging to the faith, that the reason I can’t see, and don’t know, is worth it. No one can take that away from me.

    And what makes this most powerful is that I’m now sitting here in the absence of that suffering, knowing it came to an end, I was right to hold on. What is the value of that I wonder? I think what’s important in life are the hidden hopes we promote in other people’s lives. ‘All in all is all we are’. I have no reason to apologise for existing. I’m here, might as well make the best of it – on my terms. Maybe I have gained more from these experiences than I think.

  6. By: Robin O Posted: 15th January

    Hi Darlene:
    I could really relate to your article about dealing with the past,
    I had a block around age 5-6… I couldn’t get back beyond lst grade.
    I finally found the information for that block and since have been able to live in the present. It took a long time. I really enjoy your site and your articles. Thanks Robin

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th January

      Hi Ethereal Highway
      I totally agree with you. I had a LOT of damage done to me that way too, and I kept trying to make those instructions work because I was afraid they were the ONLY solution. I was so afraid to even think one of those expressions like “live in the present moment ” might not work because THEN WHAT do I do?? Some therapists really are not good therapists and they can do tremendous damage because of the authority and position they have. This is such a huge problem.
      Thanks for sharing this because so many of us had had something like this happen and are afraid to talk about it.
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Louise
      This is GREAT! What an honour it is to have you sharing your processing thoughts here ~ I know this will be very inspiring and helpful to everyone that reads this. I admire and thank you for your courage Louise, in sharing this work.
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Robin
      Thanks Robin, I am so glad that you are here!
      hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Edward Schline Posted: 15th January

    Wow manifestations. I was not a very good communicator so I did not bother to validate anything when doubted. In my head I had a reason for everything and can remember someone asking me do you have a reason for everything you do and yes was the answer. I was probably 18 and this was the first time it ever came across my mind that I or anyone could do something without a reason or weighing the pros and cons like I do.I still struggle with sticking up for myself and can bask in the familiarity of losing comfortably.Keep on keeping on because you are making me look at myself with a open mind and greater understanding.

  8. By: Ethereal Highway Posted: 15th January

    I don’t think most people understand how damaging it is to tell someone to live in the present moment when they are trying to process something. Sadly, I had a lot of damage done to me by therapies like that. Their goals were simply for me to ‘stop that’. Stop feeling depressed, stop having phobias and anxiety, stop feeling overwhelmed and disorganized. And do it by ‘breathing’ and ‘distracting myself’ from my memories and feelings. Basically, the main message of my last therapy seemed to be ‘stop feeling’. Which made me dissociate more. The whole thing was REALLY retraumatizing. It was just like how it was growing up in my family where there was the constant demand for me to somehow not notice what was being done to me. Yes, first my family forced me to dissociate and then my therapist did the same. I swear I have some PTSD specific to the things that happened in that therapy and it keeps getting in my way in my new therapy. It’s so bad that there are a couple of angry insiders who will come out and tell my current therapist to eff off if he says any triggering words like ‘present moment’ or ‘mindful’ or a number of other words and phrases. Sometimes I still feel angry that that happened to me. I needed help. I needed to be able to talk about the contents of my memories and the way they made me feel, but my feelings were not really accepted by my therapist. He said they were, but then he kept interrupting and making it so I couldn’t process things. And in doing that, he re-taught me how to do it to myself. Things got so bad that I started drinking again after 13 years of abstaining. There are few worse feelings in the world than being scared half to death of your own memory and having nowhere to go except to a person who will tell you to live in the present moment and pretend to feel good right when a major dissociative barrier has just imploded and you are suddenly a fifteen year-old who has been raped. I can’t imagine it being healthy to tell a raped teen to use drugs to make the memory go away if it cannot be ignored, but that’s what he did and I’m still trying to crawl out of the wreckage. And just the fact that he did that? It made me feel like no one loves me and that the abuse I suffered will cause others to treat me like a piece of garbage if I lose my ability to pretend that I’m fine with everything. He punished me by emotionally abandoning me because I’d been raped and couldn’t shove it back under the rug. All I wanted was for someone to listen and care about my real feelings. He made me ashamed.

  9. By: Zoe Posted: 14th January

    Darlene – I totally hear where you are coming from and agree wholeheartedly. 🙂 Another excellent post!

    Amy – I also understand where you are coming from. My counselor told me years ago that with PTSD, I personally need to be careful not to over analyse those traumatic events because in some people (ie me) that actually leads more to retraumatising than to healing. Over the years I have learned for each specific circumstance, *when* and how to *push* at something – do I a) just need to see that this thought pattern is WRONG and adopt a right one (easier said than done admittedly); OR b) need to identify the specific LIE i have internalised and replace it with TRUTH specific to that lie; OR c) need to explore what happened in order to recognise the abuse in it and allow myself to go through the grieving process about it; OR d) leave it alone *for now*, pray about it and trust that the answers will come when I am ready for them, and instead work on some other aspect of healing.
    All of these things, I believe, have value in the right time and place. All of these things have contributed towards healing for me. Of course, figuring out which one is right at which time is another matter. 🙂
    But like the difference between the pain of childbirth or a good massage, compared with the pain of a shard of glass in your foot, there *is* a difference. We just need to learn to listen to it 🙂
    Those were my thoughts, for what they are worth.
    And to everyone here – how wonderful, how incredible is this journey of healing we each find ourselves on! And how thankful I am that we have a place where we can share steps of our journeys, and in particular of your journey, Darlene – your honest and open evaluation of what has happened and is happening is just brilliant and so very courageous. HUGS. and THANKS. and LOVE!

  10. By: Vicki Posted: 14th January

    I can’t say this one helped that much, b/c I don’t have any clue what, if anything, I’m running from.
    IDK if it’s b/c I’m that out of touch w/ my own feelings or what, but I truly have no idea what I’m running from. And I don’t begin to know what questions I’m supposed to ask myself. I’m really confused tonight b/c I had a stupid fight (argument form) w/ the guy I’ve been friends w/ since September.
    And you can’t talk about something to somebody who won’t come home since it happened.
    Other than that IDK what to ask myself.
    I’m just confused about it. I don’t know how you can get better when you don’t even know what questions to ask yourself. And it’s impossible to have any kind of relationship w/ any member of my family b/c they keep demanding that I think like them. I can’t even TALK to them if I’m not going to sit there and let them play games so, right now, I don’t want to talk to any of them.
    B/c if I wanted to play games my whole life, I’d join the Milton Bradley or Parker brothers family.
    I’m tired of it.

  11. By: Amy Posted: 14th January

    Thanks Darlene, I’m glad you got a laugh in the restaurant! The voice often came with a sharp finger jabbing me in the chest at every other syllable or shaking me by my arm. Thanks Arja and Wendi. I forgot about the actress part, the drama queen thing. Always crying wolf. For “no reason.”

  12. By: Wendi Posted: 14th January

    Totally relate to Amy’s comments. I also have been told that I should have been a lawyer because I can argue anything and also an actress because I am so dramatic 🙂 I’m beginning to think I should have become a detective because that’s what I feel like sorting out my own life 🙂

  13. By: Arja Posted: 14th January

    Oh, Amy,
    I totally get what you mean. I can soooo relate to your needing to explain and justify everything….to prove it….every thought, every action, every expression. I too could be a lawyer.

    I err on the side of thorough, for that reason, also. When I wrote my goals for therapy in the beginning I wrote 3 type written pages with headings, sub headings and sub sub headings. When I got to session my therapist said, “I think you could have been more detailed.” And believe it or not I didn’t catch his sarcasm. I was devastated that I had failed to be thorough enough once again. I never told him about that till years later.

    As far as analyzing every feeling and expecting that analyzing it to understand it would cure it / fix it is in fact something I have been struggling with yesterday and today. Thanks for reminding me that I just need to feel it, accept it and go with it…..let it be what it is. That is really helpful. Thanks.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th January

      Arja,
      That feeling of needing to explain, justify and prove everything comes from the way we came to feel about ourselves as a result of always being wrong, being treated like we could not possibly make a decision, or even think for ourselves.
      Thank you for sharing this story of your goals in therapy. This is such a great example of so many things. I was not that detailed, but I thought and processed in that much detail ~ which is fine today, but when I was in that fog, the thinking was always in victim mentality; the most important question I had back then was, how can I be sure to say/do the right thing so I don’t get sneered at.
      Thanks so much for sharing.
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Zoe
      Thanks for sharing your process of learning.
      hugs, Darlene

      Hi Vicki
      I know how hard this is, and I know that it seems like we never find the right “starting place” but in my case looking back, I didn’t realize that I HAD started as soon as I started trying to get through this stuff.
      Keep hanging in here and keep sharing! It really does take time.
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Wendi
      I helped in a police investigation (I wrote about it in the the “Prince Charming was a murder suspect” series) and they told me that I should have been a detective. Today I put my detective skills to good use! LOL
      Hugs, Darlene

  14. By: Amy Posted: 14th January

    I think it is difficult for me to really believe that analyzing and sorting out the past is a healthy thing for me. I get it how it should be and would be, but when I try to do it, it doesn’t work. Maybe I’m just in a different stage of healing or something. As I said in my previous comment, I’ve spent most of my life searching for reasons and living in my head instead of listening to my heart or even my body. If there wasn’t a rational, logical explanation for something, or definitive proof, it was dismissed as having no value. That was the model I grew up with, which I adopted towards my own experiences. When I start going back over the past, I go back into that analytical, logical thinking part of me that says, now that you have the information, now that you’ve figured it out, you don’t need to feel bad anymore. Now that you’ve figured out why you get these feelings, you don’t need to have them anymore. Instead of validating my feelings and allowing them to just be there whether they have a good reason I can understand or not. It’s kind of hard to explain, but I’m sure some of you understand what I mean. Sometimes I think that being in the present and noticing how I feel and just accepting it in the moment and going with it instead of trying to control it by analyzing where it comes from and if it’s valid or not is more healing – when I can actually do that. Because as soon as I start trying to figure it out, it’s like a way of not feeling the pain. Does anyone get what I mean?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th January

      Hi Amy,
      I barely know where to begin to answer your comments ~ the points you make, the truth that you expose in your comment (#13 for anyone who missed it) is so good, so full of depth and description of exactly the way that is happens, that I went to Emerging from Broken on Facebook and told the readers there that they must read your comments here. When you talked about proof… that was my story too, that was how I felt, how I lived, how I did life. And when I was an adult, if I wanted a new sweater, I had to prove it to myself. I have so much to write about this subject, I could write several blog posts about the things you have touched on in your comments.
      The simple truth was never enough.. oh so true. And your dialogue about how we are verbally assaulted ~ I was reading that out loud to my husband in the restaurant we were in when I got the comment on my blackberry.. I was reading it with the voice infliction that adults use to berate children ~ and the people at the next table were horrified looking, until they realized that I wasn’t talking to him, but I was reading something… ha ha..
      I love your story about the abusive boss. I agree with you, and I applaud you! GOOD for you!
      Thank you so much for sharing all of this fantastic amazing stuff that we can ALL relate to Amy!
      Don’t second guess yourself here!
      Hugs, Darlene

  15. By: carol Posted: 14th January

    phewww, this was hard. i think mainly because i went for an assessment and they arent sure i am ready to to the work necessary to be in the group. now im confused. i have tried so hard to grow and over come that i have hid my fears so i can do what everyone thought i should be doing. i get up every day and try to live in the here and now and not disassociate but the past and how i coped with it is entwined i just dont know what to do. i gota go backto see them in a few weeks and see what they decide. not sure what im gona do if they decide i not right or ready for the work thye do. mmm not knowing how to break the chains that tie me to the past makes the undoing so much harder

  16. By: Amy Posted: 14th January

    Related to the comments about things we think we “have to do”, something I struggled with for a long time is feeling like I couldn’t NOT do what someone in authority over me (a boss) wanted if the motivation was rebellion and came with hostility and anger. I somehow had this idea that I could only say no if my own heart was at peace about it, if I had a rational, logical reason, and if I wasn’t just doing it out of spite or selfishness or whatever. But I was always trumped by false guilt, and I always questioned myself, so that could never work. My whole life people told me I should be a lawyer because of how good I was at giving irrefutable “reasons” for things. “You have a reason for everything”. Well, that’s because I had to to survive in my family. I grew up that I had to prove everything. Prove I was not a liar, prove I was not exaggerating, prove I was hurt, prove was not the one at fault, prove I didn’t know, prove I forgot, prove I deserved whatever I was asking for. Prove I didn’t deserve whatever bad thing that happened to me at school, at my friend’s house, whatever, by provoking it. Mostly there was no way to “prove” any of those things, except by being convincing enough. So I always had this horrible conflict in myself of feeling like even when I was telling the truth, I was forced to sort of “lie” by adding in all these other things like people do when they’re lying, coming up with all kinds of “stories”, which were “true”, but were not really related or relevant. Because the simple truth was never enough. And I wasn’t allowed to just go silent after I wasn’t believed, I was badgered to keep answering. Speak up, I can’t hear you. What did you say? What? Tell me the truth! What did you do? Things like that don’t just happen for no reason, you did something. Think. What did you do? Hunh? What, I can’t hear you. Answer me!

    I can’t even believe this now that I think about it, how as an adult, working with delinquent teenage girls, a lot like I had been, I started getting really run down and sick and I would be really clumsy and out of it in the mornings and often be late (usually only by 5 or 10 minutes) because I would have to clean up after dumb things – and my boss would never believe me. (Finally after like $20,000 out of pocket copays for medical bills, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia which I am over now). But I would tell my boss some dumb thing that happened, saying, I know this sounds crazy, but… because it DID sound crazy. But it was true. Like waking up and my right arm is completely numb and I can’t move it. I think, oh I guess I must have slept on it funny, so I go about my routine and take twice as long to do everything with my left hand/arm, and then roll around in pain as it starts tingling and cramping and “waking up”. Forgetting that I still can’t move it like I expect, I reach for things and knock them over, like my coffee, etc. and have to clean up. But by the time I get to work, my arm and hand are fine. And he would say I displayed every sign of lying that they learn about from corrections training programs. Oh. I’ve seen those videos too. I guess he’s right. BUT maybe my eyes are looking in the wrong direction like I’m using my imagination to make something up instead of using my memory because I hardly believe myself and I AM WRACKING MY BRAIN for a reason this could have happened so I can prove it, and for a way to get you to believe me. Maybe I’m sweating and nervous and can’t maintain eye contact because I have PTSD when someone accuses me of being a liar.

    That was kind of a tangent, but the point I started out wanting to make: I finally stood up to that idea that I HAD to do what was expected, with another abusive boss who manipulated me into working 4 more weeks after my 2 weeks’ notice, handed me my paycheck and said I wasn’t worth half of it. She expected me to start training my replacement the next day, even though I had told her weeks before that I had company from out of town coming that day and would not work after that. So I called the office in the morning and got the machine and said, “I’m just calling to remind you in case you forgot, that I told you I would not be coming in today because I have company coming.” I hung up, but I felt like God was riveting me to the spot saying that’s not what you really want to say, you need to tell her what you really mean. I stood there by the phone for a few minutes and finally called back and left another message saying, “Actually, what I really meant to say was, I’m not coming in at all this week.” I hung up, and again, I heard God say, nope, that’s not it. That’s still not what you need to say. (I attribute this to God because it was so clear and so loud in every part of my being, and I know only He could have convinced me that I had “permission” to do this.) I called back and left a third message saying, “No, actually, what I REALLY meant to say is that I AM NEVER COMING IN. NOT TODAY, NOT TOMORROW, NOT NEXT WEEK, NOT EVER.” And I hung up. I can’t even describe the relief I felt, and I laughed my head off. I had absolutely no guilt, and I couldn’t believe it. I felt like God was proud of me and HAPPY. But then I started panicking about her calling me back. I didn’t know if I would be able to maintain that feeling of freedom inside. And then I realized, I don’t have to answer her calls! I don’t even have to listen to my voice mail! So I didn’t. She called numerous times and I have no idea what messages she left. I deleted them without listening. She could have been apologizing and telling me she’ll pay me all my vacation and sick time and whatever, I never found out and it didn’t matter. I wasn’t going to subject myself to the possibility of more abuse just to get money, even though I earned it, deserved it and had a right to it. That was such a huge victory for me. Some people said I was “running away” and not facing my fear of what she might say. But I believe I did what I needed to do, and the “running away” was the thing I had been afraid to do. I think it saved my life.

  17. By: Cyndi Posted: 14th January

    This is an important post Darlene. Not that all of your posts aren’t important but this one is BIG. As usual, I felt as if I were reading my own journal while reading this post. All my living in the present, moving on, leaving the past in the past, without ever dealing with it, only led me to more and more maladaptive behaviors, insomnia, anxiety and depression. And I had NO IDEA why I had suddenly become such a hot mess. My past is not entirely behind me yet and I still have work to do but I am light years away from the woman I was 3 years ago who curled up in a ball on the couch crying, with a huge knot in my stomach, unable to sleep more than 20 minutes total some nights, with no clue what my problem was. The key to finding out what my problem was, as you said, was the past.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th January

      Nikki and Cyndi,
      I wrote replies to your comments and accidently LOST them! I hate it when that happens!

      Cyndi ~ thank you for sharing your victory with us~ that is so inspiring!

      Nikki, ~ I love the word resolve, and I had to learn a lot of re words… like re-wire re-learn re-lationship… oops okay I had to learn how to do relationship and still be fair to me. The comment that I wrote to you before Nikki was in relation to your comment at the end of your post ~ about being dissociated with the person that you are.. In the end I realized that my disconnection and dissociation really was about running from me ~ it was my fear that if I did connect to me, that I would find out that “they” were right about me. I don’t mean how I dissociated as a child, that was survival. I mean why I was so afraid to stop doing it. But I found out that THEY were NOT right about me! Well I worded it way better the first time, but I am running out of response time now! LOL
      Thanks for being here!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Carol,
      I am sorry that happened to you today. One thing that I know is that is seemed to take me so long to feel like I was starting, but everything I was learning all went together towards the end result… so all the work paid off in the end..
      Maybe it isn’t that you are not ready, maybe you have gone beyond what they expect? You have grown so much in the last year ~ don’t let this get you down ~ don’t let this define you OR your progress!
      Hugs, Darlene

  18. By: Nikki Posted: 14th January

    “I got living for today and accepting the past mixed up with the realization that I can’t change the past, forgetting that the goal in healing from the past is not to change the past, it is to resolve it.”

    Darlene what you shared today in this blog is a very foundational truth. The Questions that have kept coming to my mind is “How do I live today when I don’t even know what to do about the past or where to begin?” I mean honestly if we go through our lives trying to forget the past then we are actually trying to forget our lives all together. I have tried various forms of living in the present etc. I have even said at one time or another one of those statements about living in the present, simply because it did sound right.

    That also reminds me of the statement “forgive and forget” that whole forgetting thing doesn’t happen just like getting over it doesn’t just happen. This life is a process and our lives is composed of the past, the present, and the future. Voiding any of these things we void the other.

    I like that word Resolve there is a lot of hope in that word to me … instead of performing great feats of “amnesia thinking” (forgetting the past) or some “miracle working denial” I can accept the reality and deal with it and move on to be able to truly live in the present. By doing so I accept the reality of my life and who I am and where I have been thus I don’t have to go around in some state of amnesia fog and be disassociated with the person that I am..

    Thank you much for writing and sharing this blog ((((HUGS)))) to you

  19. By: Elizabeth Posted: 14th January

    Another great blog post.

    As Patricia points out, it is in my own reactions and behavior that I begin to understand what had happened in the past and how it affects one now.The self hatred from being treat literally as trash or ‘refuse'(ironic word, that one)is difficult to get beyond at times.
    I love reading the wisdom and honesty here.

  20. By: Angela Contreras Posted: 13th January

    I have come to see that I cannot leave my past in the past. Yes it is the past I cannot change the past but if I pretend that the abuse did not happen then I am… only lieing to myself. I have to be in reality and the only way I got into reality was to work on myself by going within myself. 12 steps helped me to do so. Also talking with other people who have been abused helped me to do so. Remembering the good and the bad. Mostly bad in childhood I had to let myself re-feel all these feelings and memories I had. If I did not I would of probably been in a mental hospital. If I don’t continue to heal and deal I wont grow. It is a healing process for me a life time process. I am thankful for the love and support I have received from people and mostly to God and my husband who has been there with me through thick and thin. Thank you Darlene for all you do. Hugs to you.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th January

      Hi Shanyn,
      This is also a wonderful contribution to this post. You have exposed the depth of this whole thing. It takes a long time and for me, persistence was the answer. I just kept going forward and when I fell back I got up and brushed myself off and went forward again. The way that you have articulated this Shanyn, shows that you are making progress, because we don’t start off understanding what you wrote!
      About adrenalin spikes from phone calls~ my mother gave up almost right away but I jumped when the phone rang for about 4 months after she did give up even though it was never her, but my husbands parents didn’t let it go as easy and it took a long time! But the good news is that with time it all got easier and the feelings got less intense, especially as I grew in my own strength and validation of myself, knowing that I was not a nasty person but that I was taking measures to be free of the oppression that was WRONG and that I never deserved to be devalued that way! no one does!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Angela
      There is a huge component to this healing work that has to do with learning to live in reality!
      Thanks for sharing!
      Hugs, Darlene

  21. By: Wendi Posted: 13th January

    What I seem to have come to realize about myself is that I wanted to live in the present and actually don’t understand how we have any other choice…the problem was that for some reason I was allowing my past to interfere…part of that was because the past had become my present…I brought it with me (both mentally and physically). Although I was an adult I was still subjecting myself to unhealthy boundaries and toxic relationships and it was only by sitting myself down and really saying…what is this past that I keep around and why? What does it mean…come to find out that gut feelings or things I couldn’t just let go of were like my way of telling me that I need to deal with or check into something. Never even occurred to me, honestly, before I started into Emerging From Broken and OSA and started meeting other survivors that things are not always what I thought they were. Found out that they were only that because I was told that…and I chose to just accept it. In fact, I didn’t even realize I had another choice. The whole idea of doing anything differently didn’t even seem like a possibility. Don’t get me wrong, my counselor had suggested all these kinds of things to me in the past, but I didn’t get it and didn’t think she got it until I met other survivors further along in the journey than me. For example, when I told my counselor…”Oh man (or something worse) I really can’t go over there…I don’t want to…I could just cry…but I have to so I should just get over it and suck it up…” My counselor said it’s okay, if I want to cry and she said I really don’t have to go over there…I couldn’t believe that she just didn’t get it…I HAD TO GO OVER THERE and crying would do no good and would just show how weak I was! When I met others who had been there…and DIDN’T GO OVER THERE (replace with anything I didn’t want to do that I thought I had to do)…I saw that it was hard for them and the responses of the “others” were tough…but I saw people who dealt with it and didn’t go over there anymore…I really wanted that 🙂 I see the world a lot differently now…and certain words give me the heebee jeebees instantly “you have to” “we expect you” “we are disappointed” “we are worried”…I could give a huge list of ways that I allowed those people and phrases of my past to haunt my present. They still crop up and still freak me out…but I can handle it now…and it ends the way I end it now, for better or for worse – it is my choice how I live my present, and it always has been I just didn’t accept it because I wasn’t raised to realize it so realizing it on my own has taken me a while. I feel like I’ve just grown up in the last year…more like I’m in my late teen/early twenties as far as liberation to adulthood – even though I’m much closer to 40 than to 20.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th January

      Hi Patricia,
      Thank you for sharing your story of how you tried to leave the past behind and then how you came face to face with the past. Your first paragraph highlights so much of how so many of us function.
      So glad you are here!
      hugs, Darlene

      Hi Wendi,
      I love this comment! I really GET it! the way that you describe the session with your counsellor, how your counsellor said you don’t have to go over there and you though “she just doesn’t get it” Oh this is so good Wendi ~ I was exactly like that too and we all have to somehow break through our habitual thinking as you have described here!
      Great contribution to this post!
      Thank you!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Helen!
      Welcome and thank you for your lovely comment. This was how I learned to look at things too, but placing my own abuse in place of what ever way being discussed. Looking at how it applied to me. The details are necessary, but only to a point. For others that struggle with this part, it got easier for me as time went by. At first I thought that I could only recover if I found very similar stories to my story, but I found out that in truth, all abuse was rooted in emotional abuse, and that it is the effect that it had on my belief system where I found so much common ground with others who were trying to heal. Thanks for sharing Helen!
      Hugs, Darlene

  22. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 13th January

    When I left home at 19, I thought that I was leaving the incest and all of its effects behind me. I wanted so much to live in the present and not continue to be affected by the abuse. I tried being happy. I tried ignoring the pain with denial. I stuffed my real feelings down just like I did as a kid trying to survive and pretend that everything, especially me, was okay.

    It all came crashing down around me sometime during my 27th year one day when I heard myself screaming at my husband that I hated him and everything about my life. I was blaming him for my unhappiness and pain. Some other part of me was standing by watching and listening to the words that were coming out of my mouth and knew that they were lies.

    My husband wasn’t to blame for my unhappiness. It was my own self-hatred that came out of being an incest survivor. I later apologized to my husband for all of the hurtful things that I said to him. From that day forward, I went on a self-improvement kick. I read all of the self-help books that I could find at the county library in 1978. I looked for and found only 3 books on incest or sexual abuse in the library. I read those and waited until other books were written. Soon after that I told my husband and sister that I had been sexually abused by my dad when I was 11-17 years old. I said it to them but I wasn’t ready to really look at those issues yet. I wasn’t exactly ignoring them. I just wasn’t dealing with them yet. I didn’t do that until January 1989 when I went to my first 12-Step meeting. It took 10 years of talking about the past and learning to feel the pain of the incest betrayal and owning it as my own before I could start living in the present at least some of the time.

    Today, I mostly live in the present and just occasionally revisit the past when new issues come up to be resolved. I am grateful to Darlene and everyone else who comments here and on my blog for sharing your courage and your struggles because in sharing we do help each other.

  23. By: Helen Posted: 13th January

    Every post I place my own abuse in place of any mentioned,, These posts have encouraged me,,I feel the pain and I also feel the victory from each of your writings,,,Thanks to all.

  24. By: Shanyn Posted: 13th January

    Darlene, when you said, “When I look back over the years when I tried so hard to live by these sayings, I realize that they did me no good. I thought that acceptance was the answer, but I really didn’t know what I was trying to accept and so I accepted the blame and responsibility for abuse and for relationship difficulties.”

    That must be my hardest, very hardest, thing to heal – the fear reaction to appease by taking the blame, by saying ‘oh it must be me’ and then settling for that. When I work on NOT doing that, when I try to understand the past so that I can live in today it seems I get tripped up and tangled. No one wants to lose their pet scape goat and when I stop letting them heap it on me and I really examine WHAT I’m expected to take the blame for I get angry. Which is my second hardest thing to deal with.

    I think I may be getting close to being able to ignore phone messages and emails without feeling terrified and having a panic attack. Love is not fear…gotta go read those posts again (yours and mine!)

    Thank you Darlene!

  25. By: Lorriaine Posted: 13th January

    I wonder how you write about the past but can live in the future? I wrote to Maggie and asked her if she had holes in her past and she said that she does not remember most of her past but was able to integrate anyway even with the programming. I have huge holes, school, sister told me about home life, but do not remember, do get feelings of dad’s violence, physical emotional psycological, no sex, but just as damaging. I think the overcoming sexual abuse is hard to respond gto when you were never sexually abused, what about all the other forms of abuse? Why not just say web page to overcoming all forms of abuse. Makes me not want to write because i feel a block bec of it.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 13th January

      Hi Lorraine,
      I think that you are struggling with these things. I know how hard it is to overcome abuse and dissociative issues.
      I am not sure how you got the impression that I was saying I live in the future; what I was saying is that although I talk about my past each day, I live in the present. I understand about the holes, I have them too and I don’t worry about them anymore.
      One thing I would like to clarify. My site is not about overcoming sexual abuse and my facebook page is called “emerging from broken”. My website, (this blog) is about overcoming ALL kinds of abuse and ALL kinds of mental health struggles such as the many types of depressions and dissociative disorders, addictions etc. that result from abuse. I think you are getting mixed my stuff mixed up with the Overcoming sexual abuse site which is a whole different website that has their own facebook page. We support each other because all abuse has so much in common ~ there is a lot of crossover, but my work is not exclusively about any one abuse.
      I really hope that my response clears this up for you because I would hate to see you feel blocked or unwilling to share over that issue, when in reality it is just a misunderstanding.
      Please feel free to talk about anything that you need to here.
      Hugs, Darlene

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