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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