For many years, I felt stuck in my healing. I didn’t feel the changes I was attempting to make and constantly felt like I was doing something wrong. I asked myself for a long time, “Why am I stuck? Why do I always fall back to my old destructive ways?”
So many people would diagnose me when I shared my frustrations, easily coming up with answers to what was “wrong” with me, why I was struggling in my healing. But very few of them could actually help me heal. It became really frustrating and I was very discouraged.
Now I know why and I can look back and see what piece of the puzzle I was missing. My healing wasn’t the task of these other people. It wasn’t a problem I could present to others to fix, to sort out for me, or to even have specific answers to. How could they? They didn’t know all of me and all the unique circumstances of my trauma. It wasn’t their job to fix me. It was my job. I finally realized that I had to take all...
I struggled with self-care for a long time. It wasn’t an easy task for me. Back then, I was solely focused on numbing myself. I was in too much pain and too ashamed of what had happened to me. It hurt too much to think about it. In the process, I had completely disconnected from myself, my body, and my needs.
What helped was when I learned about the long-term impact of trauma, what the long term impact of toxic stress on my body. I could easily see how the abuse I suffered made me not want to talk about the past, feel my feelings, or want to take care of my body. But what was invisible to me was how the toxic stress from my childhood was still fueling the high level of cortisol in my body. The high levels of stress hormones in the body can create and contribute to long-term problems with our heart and our blood vessels. This information became a complete game changer for me.
I had to start to practice good self-care to help my body counter the years of living with...
I am very excited to announce that I have finished setting up my very own Patreon page!
It was inspired by my son, who has been telling me for probably 3 years now to set up a way for people to support the work I do. He told me about Patreon and after some encouragement from others in my life, I knew it was time.
Any of you that are connected to me on Facebook know my relentless drive to end the cycle of abuse in our communities. For the past 15 years, I have focused all of my time and energy educating adults, parents, and caregivers about keeping kids safe from CSA. And since 2013, I began to also focus on supporting the healing of other survivors, holding a safe space for them to heal their hearts and reclaim their lives, to live wholeheartedly from their heart, not the hurt.
As my business has expanded, so has my reach. And I am stretching it even more by setting a goal to reach 1 million survivors in the next few years. But I know I cannot do this alone.
I know that every...
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...
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.
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...
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...
Why do we resist healthy change? Why does resistance rear its stubborn head every time we decide to do something good for ourselves? It makes no sense!
Or does it?
The purpose of resistance is to protect you. It is a biological occurrence, it happens without your say once you have experienced trauma because it is your brain’s job to keep you safe. That’s one of its many skills. And the brains attempt to keep you safe involves minimizing change, because change comes with mystery, risk, and uncertainty. After a traumatic event, the brain comes up with a way to survive it. It comes up with an answer to why it happened. It comes up with a way to deal with the pain, which is usually by burying it when one is too young to deal with the complexity of it. The brain then makes you hyper aware of future situations that are similar to the previous one, to do anything to prevent it from happening again. And once that trauma, especially recurring trauma, has occurred, your...
Life is all about change yet we struggle with it and resist it for most of our lives. Change is especially hard for adult survivors of CSA because we need to feel safe and part of feeling safe is having control and knowing what to expect.
As we go through the stages of change, there is one stage that we especially need lots of encouragement and support with. The stage I am referring to is the stage when you become aware of something new about yourself, something that you did not know before. For example, when I finally realized how big the impact of being abused as a child was, I also realized that I filtered everything about myself through the belief "I am bad" or "I am not worth it." I became aware that I had learned to be this way and that now, I could learn to be different and learn to feel better about myself. But what kept me stuck in the stage of change, (by stuck I mean aware of the new information but not able to process it and turn it into action yet,) was shame,...
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