The Body Remembers by Babette Rothschild

Photo credit: Bernard Goldbach
Photo credit: Bernard Goldbach

You’ve heard of “don’t ask, don’t tell”, I have a similar policy for the spiders in my home…don’t show, don’t kill.  Don’t show yourself and I won’t have to kill you.  I know spiders serve a purpose, they eat bugs and some of them even protect us from the poisonous spiders…but still I don’t want to see them or know that they are there.

That is precisely how I feel about my memories of trauma and abuse.  Why can’t they just stay hidden?  Why do they have to work their way to my consciousness, and whisper to me though nightmares, flash backs and feelings? Why, why, why?

I have not found a completely satisfactory answer to that, but I have some guesses.  I think it is like garbage….it doesn’t just go away.  We put it in land fills or dump it in the ocean (ewww!) both which have their problems and drawbacks.  These days people are becoming more aware about recycling, for this reason, and trying to take better care of the earth.

Traumatic memories (or any feelings for that matter) don’t just go away.  They need to be dealt with and processed.  I believe that dissocation, is a good defense mechanism.  It stores the pain away for you, to deal with at a later time…but deal with it you must.

The pain will find an exit…if not by us feeling it and processing it…then through our bodies.  One benefit I have received from therapy is that my health is much better.  The joint pain from my autoimmune disorder and the muscle pain from fibromyalgia are so much better than before I started therapy.  And yet, if I try to ignore my emotional pain, rather than dealing with it, it flares up again.

There are other ways that the pain sounds a warning though our bodies, and that is somatic pain, which I think of as a ghost pain…a memory of pain experienced in the past.

The Body Remembers by Babette Rothschild

Denial is part of the healing journey and so sometimes, I try to tell myself, I’m making this up, or imagining it.  But The Body Remembers is the validation I needed.  This book, thought it is scientific, is quite readable for us “lay” people.   She explains body memories, PTSD, somatic pain and other related issues.

While reading this won’t make your pain go away, only working through it can do that…if all else fails, you could always throw it at a spider if one dares SHOW itself in your home!

Photo attribution: Bernard Goldbach

The Jaws of Hell

It recently occurred to me that of all the things I have talked about on my blog, during this healing journey, one thing I have not really talked about is how it has affected me spiritually.  I have alluded to it a couple of times, but never really discussed it.  I don’t know why.  It’s not that I was intentionally holding back.  Maybe it is just an unspoken feeling I have that one’s relationship with God is a deeply personal thing.

Yes, that is likely what prevented me.  It’s kind of like this….a great piece of advice I received when I got married was: when you are upset with your spouse, don’t talk to other people about it.  The rational being that later his awesomeness (as you see it) later makes you inclined to forgive him, but your mother (or friend…), who doesn’t see him as quite so adorable is less likely to forgive him.  I guess in that same light, it was hard for me to talk about the difficulty I have been having with God, because I don’t want to pass on my frustration to anyone else, and then have them not ‘bounce back’ when I do.

Fortunately though, my relationship with God was strong before all this healing stuff started, and though the relationship has been rocky, I am mending the wounds.  In fairness, to myself, I must say, that DID has played a big part in the separation I have felt from God.

I don’t really want to get into that now, suffice it to say, that some how, some part of me decided that the Spiritual aspect of myself was much too precious and too pure to be subjected to all the filth that was about to come forth.  So the Spiritual One was whisked away to a far, far room of my Haunted Mind.  It took me a long time to understand what had happened and why.  Then to develop some inner co-operation to bring her back.  I know that probably sounds really strange, but rather than thinking of it as strange, I hope you can see that it is actually a testament to the amazing power of the mind.

Perhaps, I will write more about that another day, but today it feels like a side-trip, so back to my main point.  Even though I haven’t really talked about the spiritual aspects of my healing here on the blog, I am writing a book about it.  The book I have wished for to help me, but couldn’t find.  Good grief, as I write that it sounds maybe a bit egotistical, but here’s hoping you know me better than that.

My intent is to help others navigate this rocky path any way that I can.  That’s all.  So, the first chapter of the book is about the spiritual divide that has been part of the process for me and why it happened (aside from DID).  The rest of the book is about healing that divide.  The first chapter is tentatively called, “The Jaws of Hell”  from Doctrine and Covenants section 122…”. . .if even the jaws of Hell should gape after thee. . . (paraphrased because I am too impatient to look it up now).

As I pondered and later researched “the jaws of Hell”, I learned that the phrase has been used at least since medieval times, likely longer.  It was very common in their art.  I just have to show you a picture I found.

 

Photo Attribution:  HERE

Isn’t this picture great?  I showed it to my daughter, Vienna, but she didn’t share my enthusiasm. I don’t get it.   And yes, in case you were wondering, this whole blog post IS just so I could share this picture.  I think it is perfect and I am wondering if I can get permission to put it in my book!

So can any of you reading this relate?  If you would like to tell me about your “jaws of Hell” experience (meaning that you felt separated from God due to anger, shame, DID, or another reason).  I would love to hear YOUR story.  As always you can share here, or privately by sending me a PM to lesliesillusions at gmail.

Oh, and have I told you lately…thanks for reading and sharing this journey with me.

 

Book Review: Miss America By Day by Marilyn Van Derbur

Talia Felix

Ok perhaps you are thinking, ” Leslie,  Miss America By Day doesn’t sound like your kind of book.” And you would be right.  I don’t think it sounds like my kind of book either.  I think this book is mis-named.  I never would have picked it up on my own, but it was recommended to me.  And I LOVE it.

The reason I don’t like the title is that I feel it is misleading.  It makes it sound like a girly girl book.    Since I am not a girly girl, it’s not the kind of book I would normally pick up.  But the author Marilyn Van Derbur says she’s not a girly girl; she’s a tom-boy.  And a very competitive one at that, which is how she somehow ended up in the Miss America contest, and won.

What the book is really about is in the subtitle: A guide for parenting. . .resource for professionals. . .handbook for survivors of sexual abuse. . .love story.  It truly is all these things.  The first part of the book is a memoir.  Don’t worry there is nothing graphic about the abuse.  Survivors may find it triggering though.  She talked about things I have felt, talked about and written about here on the blog. It was so validating! Here is an example:

(note-Larry is her wonderful husband, and Jennifer, her daughter that she shares a close relationship with.)

“A dear friend stopped by one day.  She couldn’t have been more loving but her words cut me to the bone.  ‘Lynn, its a beautiful day.  You have Larry, Jennifer, this wonderful home, an incredible career, you need to let this go now and move on with your life.’  Not one word had been said with malice.  She had always been supportive of me but her words were so hurtful.  If only she knew how desperately I wanted to move on.  The feelings and emotions had become more than I could suppress or control anymore.  The recovery process has nothing to do with willpower or choice.

“I wish I had known that many–if not most–adults sexually violated as children, are in their 40’s before they begin to deal with their childhoods.  Just knowing that this is ‘normal” for many survivors would have helped me cope with friends and family members who were saying, ‘This happened a long time ago.  Just move on with your life.”

I didn’t realize forty is a common age either, and yes, I have gotten the “move on” message from well-meaning friends.

The second “half” of the book is a “guide”.  I thought I knew a lot about this topic–not only from living it, but from my study and work.  But I learned a lot of new things from this portion of her book.  Chapters titles in this portion include: How Common is Forgetting; Do Babies and Toddlers Remember?, Seven Things You Should Never Say, Why Don’t Children Tell?  etc. There is some wonderful information about protecting your children that will enlighten and empower you.

I want to fill this post with tons and tons of quotes, because I love her book so much.  But, you know, they have copyright laws about that sort of thing. So I will limit myself to one more that I feel highlights my favorite thing about her book.  She is so very encouraging and positive.  She gives me hope.

“The good news is that the pain can end.  The bad news is that recovery is an indescribably agonizing process.”   In another part of the book she says the pain can end, but you have to do the hard work.

I think anyone: survivor, friend of survivor, parent etc could benefit from this book.  Read it!  You won’t be disappointed.  That is a money-back guarantee (money back that you spent on this blog post– that is!)

When I “grow up”, I want to be just like Marilyn.

Photo Attribution:  Talia Felix

 

Book Review: Geography of Bliss – Eric Weiner (also my daughter as a tick)

I am happy today, and that is not a word I throw around lightly.  This mood that gave me the idea for today’s post.  Well, that and Vienna’s homework.  She asked for help with her Sociology: learn about a culture that is different from ours.

Side Bar: As I write this, she is reading over my shoulder.  In her words, she is, “like a tick, always watching” ….not creepy or anything…

As I sorted through my knowledge of other cultures (sociology is my favorite subject), I thought of the perfect book:  Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. 



Bill Kuffrey publicdomainpictures.net

I got very excited and explained to her that Eric Weiner, a Foreign Correspondent for National Public Radio and a self-proclaimed Grump, had decided to spend a year traveling the world to visit the happiest, and least happiest places in the world. 

Side bar: I also told Vienna that I can’t concentrate while she is watching, and she said to pretend I don’t know she is there because most people that have a tick, don’t know. . .ok….creepier still. . .

We looked at the table of contents, each chapter covers a different country.  Which one to choose?



Piotr Wojtkoski publicdomainpictures.net

Chapter 5:  Iceland: awesome!  Visiting Iceland is now on my Bucket List because of this book.  Icelanders love chess and writing (heaven), and they go months without seeing the sun.  I’m from Seattle, I’ll fit right in.  When I go to Iceland, I will NOT eat harkarl, rotten shark, but I will think of Mr. Weiner’s description of it:

“The harkarl has an acidic, unnatural flavor.  Worst of all is the persistent aftertaste.  It lodges on the roof of my mouth and resists eviction, despite my attempts to flush it out with many glasses of water, a bag of honey-roasted cashews, an entire wheel of gouda cheese, and two bottles of beer.  By the time I return to my hotel, an hour later, the taste has, ominously migrated to my throat, and shows no signs of leaving soon.  I feel sick.”

A local man explained to him that the only way to get rid of the after taste is to drink svarti dauoi, or black death, the Icelandic national drink.  Weiner says the very nasty hang-over was a price he was willing to pay to get rid of that taste.  Harkarl, anyone?

Side bar: Vienna went to class, but not before warning reminding me that she, like a tick, will always be watching. Rotten shark and ticks…I think I’m going to have nightmares tonight, how about you?

Chapter 6: Moldova..ewwwww.  It is said to be the least happy nation in the world.  Maybe the problem is their music.  You know how uplifting music can be, right?  Well apparently it works the other way as well.  According to Weiner:

“Russian pop is–how do I put this diplomatically?–bad.  Very bad.  So bad that it may have contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

There you go.

Chapter 7: Thailand…ah, don’t read that chapter Vienna.  Their morals are..um…different than ours.  The chapter begins with how despite his best intentions not to go, one night at 1 am he found himself in a bar. . .yeah, that is not the essence of the whole chapter, but enough for me to have Vienna skip it. 

Chapter 2: Switzerland:  I can’t forget Switzerland.  You know the saying one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  Well Switzerland shows us that one man’s misery is another man’s happiness.  Or something like that, read this and decide for yourself:

     “Why are the Swiss so happy?”  I ask Jalil.
     “Because we know we can always kill ourselves,” he says with a laugh, but he’s not joking.  Switzerland has one of the world’s most liberal euthanasia laws.  People travel from all over Europe to die here.
     The strangeness of it all sinks in.  In Switzerland, it’s illegal to flush your toilet past 10:00 p,m, or mow your lawn on Sunday, but it’s perfectly legal to kill yourself.
    
And so Switzerland has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.  How can a happy country have a high suicide rate?  There is a theory in the book. . .

If you like humor, sociology and philosophy, you will love this book as I did.



Vera Kratocvil publicdomainpictures.net

What?  Oh, you want to know which country she choose for her project?  Why Moldova, of course.  She read this line:

“”Getting to Moldova turns out to be nearly as tricky as finding it on a map.  It’s almost as if the Moldovans are off sulking in their corner of the globe.  ‘Leave us alone.  We’re not happy, and we like it that way.  We said go away!'”

“You should move there,” she said.

I had to laugh at that.  Evil girl. I guess she chose it for her report since she thinks I should move there, and she’s planning to visit…or wait, if she is truly a tick as she claims, she will just go with me.

We’ll send you a postcard.   

Book Review: A Girl’s Gotta Do What A Girl’s Gotta Do

A Girl’s Gotta Do What A Girl’s Gotta Do by Kathleen Baty  (a book review of sorts)

I recently checked out a book about safety, self-defense etc.  for my daughter.  Well possibly for her, I wanted to look it over first.  I didn’t tell her.  I just brought it home.  I read part of it and found it very interesting, then I left it on the shelf to come back to later.

The following day, my daughter said, “I found the book you got for me.”

“Huh?  How did you know that was for you?”

She rolled her eyes.  “It was obvious.”

“So do you like it?”

“Yeah, it’s great.  I  read the first chapter about how to be safe in hotels, and then I started thinking, ‘this probably isn’t the best thing to read before going to bed.  I might have nightmares.’  So I skipped to the back of the book and read the part about self-defense so that if I did have a nightmare I could defend myself.” 

So funny and yet so practical.
I want to share the book with you as well.  It is written for teenage and college age girls.  The style is fun and engaging as my daughter has illustrated.  Did I mention she took it to her room and I haven’t seen it since? 

The point of the book is not to scare young women, but to help them be more savy, aware, and safe.  Isn’t that what we all want for our daughters. 

My daughter is 13 (going on 18, I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean she is mature for her age. Still…) I wondered if she was old enough for this book yet.  I didn’t want to scare her, or introduce her to subjects like “date rape” too early.  Perhaps you have the same concerns, but unfortunately we can’t shelter our children as much as we would like to.  For example, tonight she said to me, “You know the story about the bath salts?”

I thought, “You mean the story I have intentionally avoided because I know it has something to do with cannibalism any kind of violence is pretty triggering for me right now.  The same story that I would never have wanted YOU to read or be aware of?”    But she did know about it.  I just nodded.

She went on, “Well they’re saying now it wasn’t bath salts, but marijuana.”  Clearly she had read the news articles and knew more about it than I did.  Thanks news media for telling my daughter about someone eating another human’s face.  Really appreciate that. 

So we can’t shelter them…

I also tried to rationalize (as you might) that she doesn’t need this book (or this sort of info) because she will date young men who have our same religious values.  Surely that makes them safe, right?  Wrong.

I have to share a story from my job.  I work in a residential treatment center for teenage sex offenders.

SIDEBAR:  An odd occupation for a survivor of childhood sexual abuse like myself.  I feel I should explain that I work graveyard.  While I am proud of the work that my co-workers do, I am not involved in it.  I don’t do groups with the boys, or treatment or anything of that nature.  I would not have lasted in this job if I did. . .

One morning as the boys were getting ready for school, one of them told me how he had gone on pass, the day before.  He went to church and met a girl.  They hit it off, and she asked for his phone number.  He laughed as he told me, “I didn’t know what to say.  I couldn’t give her the number here.”  The residents  do not have cell phones. 

He continued, “So I asked her for her number instead.”

He was quite pleased with himself, and reminded me of any other teenage boy I have known talking about girls…with one big difference.  He is a registered sex offender. Later I thought about this conversation and wondered if this girl’s parents had any idea WHOM she was talking to at church.

Now, we can give this young man the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps he was rehabilitated in our facility (that is the goal after all) and will go forth in the world and “sin no more.”   The point remains though, that just because you meet someone at church doesn’t mean they are safe.

So yes, I decided I want my daughter to read this book.  I want her to be savy, aware and safe.

Now, can I get some volunteers for us to practice our self-defense moves?  Anyone?  Anyone?

Embracing Hope: Healing from Sexual Abuse by Chieko Okasaki

Dear Friends, Sorry I have been away.  I know you are all going through blog withdrawals  (smirk), but it is hard to write in the dark.  I have some candle light now in the Haunted Mansion, so I’m back. 
Recently a dear friend sent me a link to a talk that she thought I might like.  Like?  I didn’t like it; I LOVED it.  If I had one resource that I could point people to and say, “This is what I would like you to know about my situation,” this article is it. Not only that!  It is also something I could (and will) share with fellow survivors and say, “this really gave me validation, support and some ideas to help me begin to trust the Lord and others again.”  Truly wonderful. 
Not only is the content amazing, but it is written by a leader in my church (I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and so that gives it a “stamp of approval” when I am talking to fellow members of the church.
This talk is truly a light in the darkness to me.  I don’t feel right about posting it here…copyright laws, you know…but here is the link:
In case, you have trouble with the download, since it is a PDF file.  I also found this copy on the net.
If my glowing review was not enough to tempt you, here is one of my favorite quotes from the talk (though I must say that every page of my copy…12 pages…is highlighted!).  Of course this quote mentions light….
“Another woman who had survived years of sexual abuse from her father spoke to me of the dreadful task of healing. I think of the Savior who shuddered because of the suffering, who suffered and bled at every pore, and drew back from the bitter cup, hoping that it was not necessary. He shrank away, but it was necessary. He says, “And I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.”
Children of men is a stock phrase in the scriptures that means all human beings or the human family, but in this context, I hope you will also hear it as a literal phrase, as the little children who have been betrayed and injured at the hands of men, especially who were entrusted with their care. Christ finished his preparations for these children. The time of their physical torment may be over, but the time of their spiritual torment is great. Christ also adds significantly, “Glory be to the father.” For him, accepting and fulfilling the atonement was a dreadful task, but because he did it, we too can lift the dreadful cup to our lips. The scriptures tell us, “He descended below all things in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all, and through all things the light of truth, which truth shineth, this is the light of Christ.” It may seem inconceivable that the light of Christ is eradiating and illuminating the horrifying images and memories associated with sexual abuse, but such is his promise. If this is your situation, cling to that promise. Cling to the light, and let it grow stronger.”
Until next time, “Cling to the light” is good advice for all.

Silence Promotes Violence

Since I have been sharing my journey of healing from childhood sexual abuse, several people in my life have confided in me: either their own stories or their children’s. I am stunned and saddened to be made aware of what a rampant problem this is.  I admit I also feel frustrated that as serious as it is and as widespread…no one is talking about it. 

Ponder this for a moment.  If you have a facebook page, you know that nearly every time you log on you will see on someones status: ‘repost this if you know someone who has cancer’.  I asked a friend once, what is the point of me reposting it. (Yes, I was a little cranky that day, but fortunately my friend didn’t take it personally.)  She said, “awareness”.  Oh…because cancer is a big secret?  Pink ribbons for breast cancer, red dresses for women’s heart health and it goes on and on.

I don’t mean to trivialize cancer or heart problems, certainly.  The point I am getting at is 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer, 1 in 3 will be sexually abused.  And yet where are the facebook posts and the ribbons for awareness of this problem?   According to Boy Scouts of America, “More than 3 million reports of child abuse are received each year, including half a million reports of child sexual abuse.”  Half a million a year!  And those are the ones that are reported.  How much would that number grow if every case was reported?  I shudder to think…

There ARE some out there trying to raise awareness.   Recently I saw a car magnet with a ribbon that said, “Silence promotes violence.”  The point being that we need to talk about it to help prevent it.  So let’s talk about prevention for a moment.

There are websites out there that tell you where convicted child molesters live when they are released from prison. While I do think that is valuable information, I suggest that it is the “unconvicted” abusers that we should be more concerned about. Most victims are abused or molested by someone they know and trust. So what can we, as parents, do to protect our children? Knowledge is one of our best tools.  Here are a couple books I have found helpful.

BSA Pamphlet for preventing child abuse: http://www.scouting.org/filestore/ypt/pdf/46-015.pdf  (until you can get to the library…)

Out of Harm’s Way by Sandy K.Wurtele PhD 

A short book that you could read in an hour, but is packed with information.  I learned a few new things from reading it.

Stolen Innocence: The Jan Broberg Story by Mary Ann Broberg 

Once several years ago, I was with a couple of friends when one of them casually mentioned, “When I was kidnapped as a child, they found me in a basement.” Ahh…excuse me, did I just hear you correctly? You were kidnapped?  My friend’s mom wrote a book about their experience.  Jan was kidnapped and sexually abused by a family friend.  I mention this because the foreword of the book is written by a police officer that worked on the case and he said, Mrs. Broberg, was very brave in asking him to do this because what he was going to say was that my friend’s did “everything wrong”. There were warning signs, and red flags that the parents missed. Mrs. Broberg was willing to put her pride aside, admit her mistakes in order to help prevent us from making the very same mistakes.

So Sexy So Soon by Diane E. Levin PhD and Jean Kilbourne EdD 

I haven’t read this one yet, but one of my favorite blogs did a fabulous review on it.  You can read the review (and other great reviews) here: Reading for Sanity  I am interested in this book because I am very concerned about this trend.  Not necessarily from the point of view of the authors, but in a world of half a million reports of childhood sexual abuse is it wise to allow our daughters to dress “sexy”.  Do we really want to attract the lustful eyes of pedophiles? 

Finally, we need to talk to our kids about abuse.  I know, I know we don’t want to scare the kids.  I have that same fear.  I was discussing that with a friend recently and she said, “It depends on how you present it.  When you ask your child to wear a bike helmet, you don’t tell them that it is to they won’t hit their head and spread their brains over the sidewalk.”  Point taken.

My friends, lets start talking about this problem.  Talk to one another, talk to your children.  Through talking about it we can educate ourselves to prevent it.  Through talking we can support survivors and their families.  And through talking about it we can help victims to come forward…this is especially important for those that are being abused right now

Let’s do what we can to stop the abuse.  Start talking…Silence promotes violence.