Discussing Leaving Neverland (And the Consequences of Shame)

Photo credit: HBO

This past week, HBO aired a documentary special called Leaving Neverland, directed and produced by Dan Reed, a British filmmaker. The documentary focuses on two men, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who were (allegedly) sexually abused as children by Michael Jackson for years.  

This documentary did a powerful job of describing the grooming process victims go through and how these young boys and families were drawn into the world of fame and fortune. It had devastating consequences and a lasting impact on these men and their families.

My husband, David, and I watched the two-part documentary together. After the first night, we sat and talked. David asked me how I was feeling after watching this because the descriptions the men gave of the abuse was graphic at times. It was hard to hear, to imagine the little boys being abused in those ways. All I could feel was sadness. It stirred my heart to hear a story I have heard so many times before. The stories of...

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The Dangers of Running on Autopilot

Even though I have been on my healing journey for years and have come a long way, I can still fall into old patterns of resistance, old habits that reflect who I was, not who I am now. Even after all this time, I sometimes need gentle reminders that I have taken up these old habits. Sometimes that gentle reminder comes from someone else, sometimes it comes from my compassionate adult self. The thing that helps me stay compassionate and not immediately turn to shaming and judging myself is my awareness of automatic patterns and habits, also known as running on “autopilot,” and I hope that by sharing this information with you, it can help you move forward with compassion for yourself, once you understand that it isn’t always your fault when you resist change and revert to old habits. Because until we become aware of our automatic patterns and habits, change is very difficult, sometimes impossible.

Most of our day to day behaviors and actions are done on an automatic...

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Guidelines and Values Important to Healing

I saw this quote posted recently on social media (the image you see above) that reminded me of the ground rules that I set for group meetings I facilitated years ago. I had just moved back to California after starting a nonprofit in Iceland for child sexual abuse prevention and I immediately noticed the need for support groups in my community, for adult survivors looking for a safe place to heal. So I began to facilitate several groups, both in person and online. The non-profit I was working with in the U.S. helped me to partner with Kaiser in San Diego and they approved our use of one of their office spaces on Saturdays for back-to-back meetings for male and female survivors of trauma.

These groups had similar guidelines to the ones in the picture. Some of them were written and outlined before each meeting, especially for the newcomers. And some of the more important rules even turned into a way of being for members, becoming part of their values and beliefs.

Finding this...

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Becoming the Parent Your Inner Child Needed

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a quote on Facebook that really struck a chord with my followers. The image went on to be shared 102 times, with 12,825 people reached. The quote was, She held herself until the sobs of the child inside subsided entirely. I love you, she told herself. It will all be okay. (H. Raven Rose)

I believe that this quote resonated with so many people because the words finally put a scenario that they had dealt with so often into simple words. It’s a strange situation to explain but one that I guarantee most, if not all, people have experienced often. After a particularly hard day or after a triggering event, you might feel overwhelmed, upset, angry, and sad but confused because they don’t feel like your feelings. The feelings are in your body and something is pushing you to feel them but it doesn’t feel like it originated from you, or at least from your adult self. So where are these feelings coming from then?

They are coming...

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How the Simple Act of Tidying Can Have a Deep Impact

Have you heard of the new show, Tidying Up? It features Marie Kondo, the bestselling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and how she brought her decluttering talents to the homes of people needing to organizing their lives.

I started to watch soon after it came out and immediately loved her simple steps for cleaning and decluttering a space.

My husband and I spent a week sorting through different rooms, closets, and cupboards and we got rid of a lot of stuff, things we had held on to for years for no reason! Once we got rid of the things we no longer needed, we were able to reorganize the things we decided to keep and now our apartment feels lighter, cleaner, and more put together.

I can now say, for the first time in my life, I have my socks and underwear folded in a container in an orderly fashion. Who could have guessed that it would feel so good to fold your socks??

Ever since, I have been recommending this show to my family, clients, and my groups. What I...

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Reconnecting With the Power of Your Breath

Self-awareness is an ongoing part of the trauma healing journey. It can feel a bit overwhelming in the beginning, as you are literally choosing to counter your biology in choosing discomfort, learning how to navigate stepping outside your comfort zone and taking a hard look at your helpful but toxic coping strategies. Are you aware of your coping strategies? We can also call them habits.

Part of what I do to support my clients is to provide a bit of trauma education. I know it provided me with comfort to know that there was nothing wrong with me in how I had responded to and lived through my trauma. In fact, I was in many ways a textbook example of a child that grew up in a household with domestic violence and was being abused emotionally, physically, and sexually. The outcome, like so many others, was my living with toxic stress (Learn more about ACE study here) as a child and growing into adulthood with the toxic stress keeping my systems on high alert, all the time.

As I began to...

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Changing Your Priorities For the Holidays

Have you recovered from the holidays?

The holidays can be challenging for survivors, for many reasons. I used to feel exhausted after the holidays. Then I started to question why I was running around doing all the things I felt that I "should" be doing. Baking varieties of cookies, washing and ironing all the table cloths, scrubbing the floors, washing the windows, decorating every corner, planning every meal...the list goes on! Was it really something that I wanted or even enjoyed or was I doing it all because it was what my family did growing up or what my culture dictated was the "right" way to prepare/celebrate the holidays? Either way, it was exhausting!

I know I had good intentions and wanted to create good memories for my family but looking back, I can see I used to be so controlling and rigid with how things should be. Looking back, it makes me cringe and I feel bad for my kids. Yes, they do have fond memories but I know that some of my controlling ways would take all the...

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Giving Yourself the Gift of Compassion

On Periscope Live this past Friday, I wore my heart shaped glasses. We had been digging deep that week, asking some hard questions about healing, so it was time to lighten the mood and laugh a little. 
 
Not only do these silly heart shaped glasses help us to laugh, they also remind all of us to lead from our hearts. To lead with warmth and kindness and love and to choose to see the best in ourselves and in other people. This is called self-compassion.
 
These are stressful times in our world and for many survivors the holidays are hard and can be very painful. Either you are being reminded of the past by your family's presence (more than usual) around the holidays or you are triggered by the fact that you have cut off your family as a part of your healing and feel alone. For many survivors, the holidays rarely feel safe or enjoyable.  
 
So I wanted to send out this reminder, that no matter where you are on your journey and despite whatever hard...
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My Hope for Healing Weekend Retreat

Over the years, as I struggled to find the perfect solution to healing, the winning combination that would lead to my breakthrough and initiate the deep healing I so desperately wanted, I always felt like I was missing something. I tried many things for my healing but still I was struggling.

I’ve talked about one of the key ingredients to my healing before and it’s the same answer I give to my clients when they ask me what the turning point was on my own healing journey. And I am here again today to talk about it once more, not just because it is so important and I want to share the secret to success with all survivors, but also because I have exciting news.

I am hosting a weekend retreat next year in April, to bring together survivors in a safe place to explore their healing, learn from myself and others, celebrate their story and their strength, and create a community that will support one another for years to come. Why?

The turning point in my healing was when I found...

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Your Special Invitation to Join My 2019 Online Support Group

Hi friends,  

I know I have been MIA for a couple of months. This fall was very busy with travel and learning. I am enjoying being back home for the holidays and no more travel until the spring of 2019. But I do have some exciting news that I plan to share with you over the next few weeks. You may have seen some of the announcements if you follow me on social media. I am getting back to my blogging and newsletter routine here in December and regular blog posts scheduled for 2019.

I have a special invitation for you, especially meant for those of you who are feeling alone and behind in your healing.

For so long, I had this nagging feeling that I was always behind. Like I was chasing my tail, always almost there, so close but always falling short. So much of my time was devoted to taking care of others and busy work but I never felt like I was making progress towards my goals, doing what I wanted or needed.  And at the end of the day, little progress made. It was exhausting...

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