Always waiting for the other shoe to drop…

An older post that I’d forgotten I wrote, but I think people will be able to relate to the traumatic experience I describe here.

Lucky Otters Haven

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I think I made a kind of breakthrough in my therapy session tonight. For years one of my problems has been this overwhelming fear that something bad will happen to one of my kids. (I don’t like to even say the D word because I irrationally believe if I say it, I’ll somehow make it happen, by putting it out into the universe or something).

Of course all parents worry about their adult kids, especially when they know they’re out there somewhere in cars, which we all know are dangerous hunks of metal capable of the most ghastly and gory deaths you can imagine and operated by countless idiots and drunks on the road who can’t drive. I think my apprehension about something bad happening to my adult children edges into OCD-type territory though, because of how overpowering and pervasive these thoughts are, intruding where and when they are not…

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Becoming real.

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I haven’t been posting as much about my recovery or therapy on this blog as I used to, because it’s grown so big and I feel more comfortable posting such deeply personal stuff on my other blog, because it’s so much smaller and has far fewer readers than this one does.

But I’m making an exception today, because of how important I think this dream I had last night is.

My subconscious mind seems to be revealing the most to me lately through my dreams. Later I tell my therapist about them, and we interpret them together. Sometimes though, the meaning is obvious to me and lately it’s getting easier for me to figure these dreams out on my own.

In my last therapy session, I was asked what my real self is really like.   I wasn’t able to answer very well.  I felt like I had to make things up.  Chair Girl (my inner child, who I have “sit” in a chair in my therapist’s office, which is how she got her name) is so elusive, and only comes out intermittently.  I know she’s shy and has the potential to be very loving, but sometimes it’s hard for me to capture her essence, who SHE is.

Last night, I had another beautiful dream that answered this for me.

I owned a strange object.   It was a cat made out of black stone.   But it wasn’t actually black stone.   The person who gave it to me explained that this object had once been a real cat, who had been killed during a plane crash (but whose body somehow remained intact) and whose owner, a man from China, had the cat’s body cryogenically frozen and sealed, much like those services that do taxidermy on dead pets and send your pet back to you stuffed and fitted with glass eyes.  But this cat wasn’t stuffed and it didn’t have glass eyes.   It was hard as a rock, heavy, and shone like stone.   Its eyes were sealed shut, forever sleeping.

I loved the cat anyway, and felt sad over what had happened to it.  I  liked to just sit with it and pet it, even though it was no more than an object and could never respond or give back any love.  I sometimes wondered what he had been like, and I named him Max.

One day something very strange happened.  I knew Max had been dead for years.   But on this one day, while I was holding it in my arms, pretending it was a real cat, I heard a small mew.     I looked down and saw that Max was trying to open his eyes.    I almost dropped him in shock, but instead set him down gently on a chair and watched in amazement.   I wasn’t sure what to do.   This was scaring me.  But I was frozen in place.   I couldn’t stop watching.

Max began to transform.   His cold stone body became a beautiful coat of reddish brown tabby fur, and his eyes, now opened, turned from black to brilliant blue.   He started to breathe.  He looked up at me and meowed loudly.  It occurred to me he must be part Siamese, with those blue eyes and loud, raspy voice.

I asked him if he was hungry, and he immediately jumped down and walked regally toward the kitchen, as if he understood what I was asking him.  He kept looking back at me, meowing.  I happened to have some cat food and he ate as if he’d been starving.    My shock having worn off,  I felt love overflowing for this tiny animal.   I picked Max up and held him and listened to him purr contentedly.    He was so tiny but so beautiful and I realized that somehow, it was my love that had woken him up and transformed him back into a living, breathing, loving cat.

One of my favorite stories as a child was The Velveteen Rabbit, and I think it’s because of the universal truth in that story:  that being loved is how one becomes real.

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Max is the real me.  By learning self-love and self-empathy, she’s waking up and making herself known. She’s becoming real.

What motivates me to keep going.

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A few people have asked me how I remain so motivated to stay in therapy and so determined to become whole one day, in spite of the many setbacks I’ve faced and the inevitable triggers I’ve willingly confronted. Even my therapist has said I’m one of the most motivated clients he’s come across. People wonder if I’m just a sucker for punishment and even have masochistic tendencies.  Why on earth would I want to voluntarily embrace so much psychic pain instead of opting to remain emotionally numb the way I used to be?

I think the number one motivator for me is that I’ve learned to think of the road to wellness as an adventure of the mind and soul, not unlike climbing Mount Everest or exploring the ocean depths.    The only difference is that it doesn’t involve bodily risk. Staying as emotionally dead as I used to be seems as boring as staring at a wall all day.  Now that I’ve seen a glimpse of what I can attain, I never want to go back.  Knowing what I know now about myself, remaining in that particular hell would drive me insane.  So these days, I’d rather face the unpleasant challenges and do battle with them.   None are too big for me to conquer, even though at times they can seem to be.

By nature, I’m not a huge risk taker, but I’ve always been fascinated by the workings of the human mind.  My own mind is like a labyrinth right before my eyes, but within its dark tunnels and crevices I never know when I’ll find some treasure.

Being in therapy for anyone who suffered severe trauma and abuse can be extremely triggering and at times very painful.    I’ve left some sessions and fallen into vast yawning depressions afterward, feeling lost within the emptiness that I always knew was there even before I knew what was really wrong with me.

Faith that a higher power (or God, if you prefer) will show me the way to the treasure chest I know lies deep within is a huge motivator for me, but even now, without knowing exactly where it lies, occasionally I stumble across evidence that I’m getting closer.   A diamond here, an emerald over there, a small vein of gold embedded in the unforgiving granite.   It gives me hope and motivation to keep going.    I no longer doubt that it’s there….somewhere.   All I need is to keep going.   Therapy provides me with a compass to know which direction to go and the assurance that I won’t die trying to find it.   The journey may appear dangerous at times, but I know it never really is.   Staying mindful helps me conquer any fear that I’ve gone too far or too deep.

Discovering things about yourself that you never knew can be really sobering, even upsetting, but it’s also enlightening.   Awareness and insight about your own motivations is the key to healing from anything that plagues the mind and soul.   Self discovery is always fascinating and full of the unexpected.    It may seem like hard work, and it is, but I know the reward will be worth all the pain, and there are enough pleasant surprises along the way to keep me trudging along the rugged trail.   I can do this!    You can too, if you want it badly enough.

Drifting.

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Credit: unknown.

Today I did nothing at all, and I didn’t even feel guilty about it.

I slept on and off all day, drifting in and out of dreams. Even awake I felt pleasantly sleepy,  almost as if drugged, floating languorously on the lingering fragments and eddies of dissolved dreams.  In between bouts of light sleep, I browsed the web, colored a little, and nibbled on leftovers and dark chocolate.

Finally I’d drift back into sleep, trying to chase some faded dream from earlier, but another dream would fall into its place, distracting me from whatever I’d been seeking to recapture.

I never even left my house.

Days like this remind me of my younger years, when I would sleep on and off all day after a night spent engaged in frenetic activity, never worrying that such a reversal might be wrong or somehow immoral.

Maybe it’s the cold medicine I’ve been taking making me feel so gloriously sleepy.

I feel like my body and mind is in some healing process, and this do-nothing day actually was anything but that.  I feel like there was some profound purpose for it; some hard work was going on inside my soul, forcing my mind and body to rest.

Checking in.

The place where I am staying for the HeartSync training seminar (The Aqueduct in Chapel Hill, NC) is very beautiful, but I also get a very bad Internet connection so it’s extremely slow and I also can’t get the pictures I took to load.   The property is in a heavily wooded area.  As soon as I am able (probably when I get home on Friday) I’ll share the photos as everything I have learned–and it’s a lot.   More than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams.

I have a LOT to say about this week and what we are doing, and the unbelievable things that are happening to me, and that I have witnessed happen to others.   I understand a lot more now about why I became the way I am and what happened to me and why.   This experience is probably the most intense emotional and spiritual adventure of my life, and it was sorely needed.  It’s miraculous the way all the many obstacles were moved aside so I could have this opportunity (my being able to attend didn’t seem possible a few weeks ago), because this is where God wants me right now, and he can move mountains if need be.

It’s a lot of hard, hard emotional work.  But the benefits are more than worth it.

I didn’t realize just how much more healing I had to do, and how very broken I still am.  I am still so far away from where I want to be.

But my faith in God has strengthened tenfold if not more.    I felt Jesus’ presence VERY strongly in the training room both today and yesterday.  I became emotionally overwhelmed several times  but I also knew this was a very good thing and I was releasing pain and trauma and feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit indwelling in me.

I have very powerful “guardians” (psychological “protectors” that keep the functional/conscious part of the mind separate from the emotional/unconscious part.  With abuse and trauma, these guardians become numerous and powerful.)   Guardians aren’t in themselves “bad.”    These guardians are necessary and help us keep good boundaries, and for people who have suffered trauma and abuse, the guardians helped us to survive.  But they can also do their job too well and shut you off from being able to connect with your emotions, with others, or even with God.   They are the ones responsible for setting up protective defense mechanisms, whatever they are.

Today, one of my primary guardians apparently stepped aside long enough to allow me to drop all my normal defenses and release a motherload of trapped pain.  That happened because God can get through to certain guardians.

That experience, which happened this morning, rocked me to my core. It started as a trigger during a process called the Immanuel Approach, in which you are instructed to remember a “five bar moment” when you felt connected to God.    For some reason I misheard the facilitator and believed I heard her tell us to find a moment where we felt connected to God through a connection with another person.  I tried to think of something and just couldn’t.  All I could think of were my connections to God through nature, music, or art.  I didn’t know how to connect with people. Hell, I didn’t even know how to talk to them.   I was already feeling very emotional and triggered, and that started yesterday, but manifested at first as a lot of undifferentiated emotion, not necessarily bad or unpleasant.

But today was different.   My perceived “failure” during the exercise made me feel like I was dying or going crazy.   I realized only later that I wasn’t reacting to this small mishap (or perceived mishap); what happened instead is this “small thing” brought my abandonment trauma out in the open, and I was forced to deal with it.  But I wasn’t really alone.

I felt completely abandoned and lost. I lost any semblance of composure because I realized I’d never really had a spiritual moment or real connection with another person–and therefore I believed I couldn’t do the exercise.   I shot up out of my seat, ran out of the room and started sobbing as soon as I got out the door.  I blindly ran around the back of the building, collapsed on the steps and started sobbing like I haven’t sobbed since I was a child.    All those old feelings of being incompetent and unlovable came flooding back.  Also painful feelings of abandonment, not fitting in, being rejected, always being the odd one out, feeling “different” than others, and also feeling like no one could be trusted.  I felt like a loser and a fuckup.  I was convinced no one really liked me and I didn’t fit in here or anywhere else and never would,  and I should just leave.   I also felt a wave of hateful envy toward the people there who had a stronger “functional” side than I did (more on this later).  And then beat myself up mentally for having such ugly feelings even toward the person who had helped me get here.    What was I doing here, anyway?  I didn’t belong here.  I didn’t belong anywhere.  I never had.

But God wasn’t about to let me just leave–or leave me stranded crying into the void.    I looked up into the trees and demanded to know why he’d bring me to this place only to abandon me and make me feel like an unlovable, incompetent fool.  Was he playing some huge cosmic joke with me as the butt of his joke?   I was angry and felt the void inside me threaten to swallow me whole.    My whole body was shaking with sobs and I was hyperventilating.  I felt so weak I couldn’t even stand.  The sobs just came in uncontrollable waves.  It scared me just how much I was crying.  This wasn’t the soft crying and shedding a few quiet tears I’ve done in therapy or by myself on occasion.  This was deep, raw pain coming from a very hidden place where I have never ventured to go. The abandonment trauma was unleashed and right in my face.

The shaking was an important part of purging trauma.  All higher animals and humans do it. I remembered seeing a Youtube video about the way animals release trauma.      If an animal has been attacked and survives the attack, they will initially freeze, and then as the trauma is released, they will begin to shake and tremble as if convulsing.   I remembered and incident with my cat and a rabbit about a year ago.    My cat had caught a bunny and I managed to get her mouth opened so she dropped the bunny.  Fortunately, the rabbit was unharmed.  I put the cat inside and came back outside to try to make the rabbit run away.  But when I returned, the rabbit appeared to be having convulsions.  I though it had been mortally injured, but then it suddenly stopped and ran off across the yard.   I didn’t realize what had happened until a few months later when I saw the Youtube video explaining this phenomenon.

Finally, I asked the Holy Spirit to come and fill all the holes left in my soul by trauma and abuse.   (It’s not necessary to have a cognitive memory of the original trauma–in fact it may not be possible if the trauma was very early, because before the age of 5 or 6, myelinization in the brain hasn’t been completed yet.  But even though a cognitive memory may not be possible, you can still have an emotional/somatic memory.  More about this later).

And suddenly I “heard” God say (in my heart) that he loved me and had me exactly where I was supposed to be — releasing pain and trauma.   He told me all these things I believed about myself were lies that I’d been programmed to believe by my abusers and traumatic things that happened when I was very young.   It also turned out the facilitator had never even said anything about  having to remember a moment of connecting to another person; I heard the words wrong, so sure that I was required to “connect” with someone in order for this healing process to work.

That’s all I can say right now.   I will write a lot more about this experience and how HeartSync itself works (and the theory behind it) when I get back on Friday.  It will probably be a long post.  I have so much more to say. Although this is in no way “fun,” I have a feeling it’s going to change me in profound ways that I can only imagine right now.

I’ll explain a lot more about how this process works when I return.  Right now, I am drained emotionally and mentally but pleasantly sleepy too.  My Internet connection sucks, so a more detailed article and photos will have to wait.

 

6 stages of recovery.

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6stages

Being vulnerable requires the courage of 1,000 strong men.

brene_brown_birthplace

 

The above meme pretty much explains the entirety of what this post is about and I could easily leave it at that.   But I am just itching right now to talk about this, because I feel like I just accomplished something pretty great–all because I was finally willing to take a big risk, one I normally wouldn’t take:  I let go of my fear of rejection long enough to tell someone I’ve grown to care about and like very much (as a friend) the truth about the way I felt about them, instead of skirting around my real feelings and avoiding the subject (but secretly going nuts).

I’ve always assumed (because of my internal programming) that I didn’t deserve to be liked or loved, and used to even push away people I liked through either becoming too needy and demanding (stepping over their boundaries), or too avoidant and aloof (building up too many boundaries for protection).  There was no in between for me–it was always one or the other.   I had no ability to regulate my reactions to others or defenses against them.

I also believed that I wasn’t loveable or even likeable, due to my internal programming.  My NM (narcissist mother)  taught me that I was not (though she never said she didn’t love me, I just knew because her actions and behaviors told me she did not).   I believed that if anyone ever got to know “the real me,” whatever THAT was, that they would grow to hate me.  And, because I was always sabotaging myself, sometimes I (unconsciously) made sure that would actually happen — by demanding too much, being too needy or high maintenance, or sometimes, rejecting THEM when I feared they might be getting ready to reject ME (pre-emptive rejection).    I did a lot of projecting too.  Assuming people were angry at me when actually I was the one who was angry at them.  Assuming they felt sorry for me when I actually just felt sorry for myself.  And assuming they would leave when actually it was really me who wanted to leave.   In those cases,  I could beg them to stay and be able to tell myself I did nothing wrong when they finally DID leave me.  Yes, I could be a manipulative little bitch!  (But I had no idea what I was doing).

All this borderline crap was so painful, that over time, I built a thin covert-narcissistic defense over these unstable and unpredictable  behaviors.  (By the way, my therapist finally agrees with me that this is exactly what happened).  I stopped trying to reach out to anyone; I kept to myself, became a near recluse.  I avoided people when they would approach me, or made excuses why I was too busy.  I’d tell myself I didn’t like people–only animals (who would never judge or shame me and would always appreciate me).   I’d tell myself I was too good for other people anyway so I didn’t have to feel that shame of feeling left out of things (which I’d really set myself up for by sabotaging any incipient friendships when they seemed to be getting too close).

Even online, where I generally feel safer connecting with people and making friends, I’d still hold other people at arm’s length and let them tell me a lot more about themselves than I’d ever tell them (except in my blog posts).   I still felt like if I revealed too much, even online, I’d be dismissed as the “weak loser” my inner judge (really my mother’s nagging voice) always told me I was.   I cared about the friends I met online and could allow myself a little more emotional vulnerability (and could allow myself to empathize with them) than I could with others in real life, but still stopped myself at a point just short of a true emotional connection.  Eventually most of these friends moved on to more fertile waters, where there’d be more emotional give and take.

A few months ago, I met a new friend, one who I felt I could very much relate to in many ways, although some circumstances are different.   We had similar childhoods and reacted to our cold, abusive, more outgoing and garrulous  mothers  in similar ways.  Neither of us dared outshine our sparkling, charming, narcissistic mothers so we became shadows of what we could have been, never taking risks, never reaching out in healthy, authentic ways.   We walled ourselves off from others to avoid further rejection.   We are both broken people,  in therapy for early childhood trauma, but we are also both beginning to heal as we learn to navigate the many strange new feelings that are now finally becoming accessible to us.   We are not at the same stage of our journeys, but we have met at a kind of crossroads where both our journeys have met.    I believe this woman is a teacher to me, who came at a time when it was needed.   I may be a teacher to her as well, though I don’t want to assume that.

Although I value and care about all my online friends, I felt a kind of special kinship with this particular woman.  I had a strong feeling she had something very important to teach me that no one else could.  We began a tentative friendship, sometimes talking about the “deep stuff,” but mostly skirting around the real issues out of fear of revealing too much or making ourselves too vulnerable.     Over time, my affection and caring for this woman deepened (not romantic feelings, just a desire for deeper and more meaningful friendship) but I began to worry that if I told her how I really felt, that I would be rejected.  Again, that was me projecting my own insecurity onto her.   But on the other hand, this person is shy and avoidant, and it seemed logical that I might easily scare her away if I revealed too much, just as I can be so easily scared by too much emotional intensity from others.

And yet I long for emotional intensity, in spite of my fear of it.    I know that you can’t feel truly alive until you can be vulnerable and open your heart to another person, even though there’s a risk of being hurt.   But I’m lonely and isolated and tired of living behind walls of my own making.

I talked to my therapist about this at length.  I told him I wanted to reach out to this friend and tell her my feelings, even though I was scared to death.    He encouraged me to do so, saying it would be good practice for me and that even if I was rejected, it would still be a big step for me just for having tried.   He asked me to think about whether I was ready.    I did, and realized I was.

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This morning I finally did it.  I was a nervous wreck, imagining the worst and trying to brace myself for her inevitable escape!  I never trusted myself to know when I’d breached someone else’s boundaries because I never learned how to keep good boundaries or know how to navigate those of others.   I was taking a huge chance!

But I’ve had practice now, and in therapy have learned a lot about being able to tell without asking when it’s okay to remove boundaries or when it’s best to step away or build reinforcements.   So my friend and I finally talked on Facebook. We talked for over an hour.   I told her how protective and maternal I felt toward her, so much so that the thought of anyone hurting this incredibly strong but vulnerable woman (who is younger than me) makes me feel so enraged I would want to beat them to a pulp (and I’m not a violent type of person at all).  Maybe I have a “rescuer complex,” I don’t know, but why analyze it?    Once I started talking, things got easier.   I spilled out my need to explore my own vulnerability with her and start to navigate these “dangerous” waters of meaningful emotional connection and real friendship.

It turned out that she was grateful  that I brought my feelings up, because she had been worrying she might have told me too much before (she hadn’t).  But after my admission, she realized I was someone she could trust and she could feel safe opening up even more.    We both got pretty emotional, and if we were physically in front of each other, this would have been the moment we embraced and the swelling movie-music would have started up.

A few minutes later she sent me a heartbreaking post (in PDF) she had written a few days before about her cold, narcissistic mother and how helpless she had always felt in front of her.  It was so raw and  vulnerable and beautifully written (and I could relate to it so much) that it brought me to tears.  My friend said it also had made her feel so vulnerable and triggered after she wrote it that she decided to take her whole blog down (a blog which she had never made public).    I think that at some point she will probably want to share that post with the world, because I think it would help so many people and it touched me so much.   But I understand if she’s not ready for that yet.  It’s a big step, one that might be too overwhelming for her at the moment.   I’m just so grateful and moved that she trusted me enough to share it with me.

I know I need to respect her boundaries and not be too pushy about that or anything else.    I’ve realized that learning to connect with another person, and learning when boundaries should be removed or stay in place, is like an intricate dance — knowing when it’s your turn, when it’s the other person’s turn, being careful to not to step on the toes of the other, but still remain courageous enough to reveal your heart when it feels right and sometimes learn to let go and let your partner spin you around.   And also, always be willing to risk the possibility you may fall and get hurt.

Relationships are kept in balance and become healthy through empathic understanding of and respect for each other’s need for either more space or deeper connection, and this type of empathy is, fortunately, something we both possess, but just were never trained to use — and never had the confidence to try.

I feel like I made progress today, and I can’t wait to tell my therapist.  I know he will be proud of me, but mostly I’m proud of myself for taking a risk and finding that instead of the rejection I’d so feared,  that I helped someone else open their heart to me even more.   As my friend said to me later, we are helping each other learn, and this is a valuable and wonderful experience for both of us which can help us grow even more, as long as we’re both mindful about it.   Everyone you meet in life has the potential to become a teacher, and my friend has taught me today that vulnerability is the greatest kind of strength and the only thing that can lead us out of the darkness.

Dear Father…

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“Dear Father” by Taming the Tiger

I usually shy away from anything too spiritual or religious, because I do realize many of my readers are atheist, agnostic, or of differing faiths–and I respect their right to believe as they wish.   But today in church when the priest asked us to “add our own prayers,” I felt inspired to pray a particular prayer that has great meaning to me, for a myriad of reasons.   I would like to share it here, so maybe others can join me in prayer for these things that are so important to me.

*****

Dear Father,

You have created us all in your own image. I don’t believe you have left anyone out of your great bounty and the hope for eternal life, in spite of what some Christians and others believe.      I don’t believe that Christ’s death on the cross was a “limited atonement” meant only for a select few (as Calvinists believe).   I believe he died for us all, and offers all of us the chance for redemption and healing, no matter how hopeless things may seem.

PTSD, C-PTSD, and narcissistic abuse survivors.

God, please shower your grace and compassion on all victims of narcissistic abuse and all people suffering from PTSD and C-PTSD, that they may find comfort in your arms and be able to trust again, realize that there is still goodness in the world, and eventually, that they may find loving, healthy relationships and friendships that do not turn abusive.  Many survivors have turned to you when everyone else seemed to be turning away from them and rejecting them, and found that you were there and were listening.  But many, especially if they were rejected or scapegoated by their own families, are so damaged they have trouble trusting anyone at all, even You.   Please give them the courage to turn to you when things are at their darkest and it seems like they have no allies.  Please help them to trust you, and to heal from abuse, regain their sense of self worth and self-esteem,  and be whole and happy again. Please show them that what happened to them didn’t happen in vain, and that they are so much stronger than they realize because of the adversity they had to face.  Please let them feel the loving arms of Jesus Christ holding and protecting them from harm.  Guide them on the path to become whole again, and to use what they learned to help others heal, should that be your will for them.

Also, although anger is a necessary stage of healing (in order to leave an abusive situation or person), please allow victims who become trapped in their anger and hatred to be able to move on from it, because only then will healing be possible.   I’ve seen too many survivors who remain so mired in rage that they take on the traits of their abusers and acquire a victim mentality that does not allow them to move forward in their journey to healing.

As for myself, please don’t let me stray from the path you have set me on, which is beginning to be revealed to me. Please don’t allow me to become bogged down by envy, selfishness, or pride.   Don’t allow me to let my own will get in the way of what you have planned for me, for whenever I have forced my own will, it always turned out to be all wrong.

People with NPD, BPD and other Cluster B disorders.

God, please show these broken people who have made so many bad choices and act out toward others–usually because as children they were shamed for their own vulnerability by abusive caregivers or parents–that they do not need to rely on primitive defense mechanisms, abusive or aggressive behavior, or a “false self” in order to survive and be happy.   Please show them the beauty of their own inner vulnerability and that being sensitive can be a great strength and is never a weakness.   Please lift the scales from their eyes and show them that the things they have learned to believe about themselves and others are lies–and the truth is the opposite of what they have always believed.  Please remove the fear and shame  keeps them trapped inside cold, dark walls that separate them from their own vulnerability and the light of your grace.   If there’s a glimmer of their original soul left in them, please help that spark grow like a mustard seed within them and burn away the darkness that surrounds it.  Make them aware that their defense mechanisms are only allowing them to live the stunted, painful life of an emotional cripple, and that by jettisoning authentic feeling, they also jettison love, empathy and joy. With fewer people with narcissism and other “predatory” disorders in the world, there will be fewer abuse victims too.

In particular, please make my mother aware of what has happened to her (due to no fault of her own) and what she became, even at her very advanced age.   Even if it’s too late for her to be healed, at least remove the scales from her eyes and allow her the grace of redemption.

Our increasingly narcissistic society. 

Over the past 30 – 40 years, our western society–especially in America–has become increasingly cold, callous, lacking in empathy and compassion, materialistic, hubristic, and narcissistic.   Wealth and power are valued over compassion and love.   Individual achievement is valued over community involvement.   Greed and an “I got mine!” attitude is valued over altruism and compassion for the less fortunate.

Even families buy into this lie to the point of scapegoating family members who fail to “keep up” (or who are vulnerable or attempt to expose the family dysfunction).    Intolerance of those who are different, hatred, and racism abound.   Every day people die because they are the wrong color, wrong religion, or have a lifestyle that the Powers That Be believe is wrong.  Our society is like a huge dysfunctional family, complete with its narcissistic and abusive leaders, its golden children, and its scapegoats.  This should not be the case.  God,  please heal the hatred and fear that permeate our society and keeps people from being neighborly and charitable toward one another.  Please make dysfunctional families whole and healthy again, and give the scapegoats of both society and of dysfunctional families relief from their suffering and pain.  Make “the least of these” realize they are as worthwhile and valuable to you as the powerful ruling class who seems to have every earthly thing.

I ask these things in the name of your son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Listening to Shame — Brene Brown

I have found Brene Brown’s videos incredibly helpful.  Anyone who has struggled with trauma, shame, and fear of vulnerability would do well to watch her videos.    I’ve already posted “The Power of Vulnerability,” and have watched it dozens of times.   Here’s another one I just watched called “Listening to Shame.”   Brene is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever seen. Follow her on Youtube!

Beauty from Broken Pieces

There’s beauty in brokenness.

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Untangled

I don’t hide in the shadows any longer. It was a conscious decision, although at the time I didn’t really know what that meant. My memoir was published a year ago. I went from no one knowing my story to letting the whole world know my story. It’s more than a story, it’s my life, my truth. It’s true that I don’t lay out all the sordid details of my past in my book, and very few people in my life have earned the right to hear all the details, but, I share enough of myself and the resulting struggles I have with PTSD that I’m comfortable with the volume of my voice and that I’m being heard and making some wonderful connections.

I still struggle every day. It’s the way it is for me. Fall is a particularly hard time of year. Now, instead of pretending all is well while feeling…

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