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...
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...
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...
Healing after years of child abuse and rape takes a long time. I am still a work in progress and each time I find another layer, I welcome it because it is the only way I can work through it to let it go.
Part of my healing journey now is to challenge myself as a human being. After years spent managing internal pain and uncertainty, in survival mode I am on a mission to become the best version of myself. Not perfect, but experience all that life has to offer.
This past weekend, I attended a retreat in Sedona with like minded people. I have been blessed to find a group of entrepreneurs that are both looking to build a successful business and do it with integrity and in alignment with their highest and best good. I have been a part of this group for almost a year now. Just like I recommend to my clients that they find a group or join one of the groups that I provide, I also need a group of peers for encouragement and support and, most importantly, to celebrate our strengths and...
This past week I was invited back to be a keynote speaker at one of the children's advocacy centers in Oregon. I can still reflect on the speech I gave 3 years ago. I had just moved with my family to Oregon and was honored to participate in such an important fundraiser.
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...
The biggest reason why we don't change and why we find ourselves stuck is because we simply don't know how to change. For so many years, I thought there was something wrong with me and that everyone else was moving along in their lives, reaching their goals and sorting out their challenges, and that I was the one who was missing something to be able to do that. This was the logic of my trauma brain, my overwhelmed, fight/flight exhausted mind and body thinking and collapsing into thinking there is no hope and certainly not for me.
I got tired of reading books about how broken I was, the terrible impact of child abuse and trauma. The broken relationships, the addiction, lack of self worth, the mental health challenges, the sick bodies that we are left with after our coping strategies fail because our body simply cannot continue with decades worth of toxic stress lodged into our nervous systems, our hearts, and beliefs. I was learning about all the negative impacts but still...
All survivors of child abuse and trauma are afraid to feel, accept, trust, and appreciate their uncomfortable or negative emotions. And there is a reason.
We fear and avoid these emotions because we never had a positive role model to teach us how to express sadness, grief, overwhelm, anger, pain, and anxiety in a healthy way. Instead, we got hurt when the adults in our life felt these challenging emotions. So we have no reason to believe that there is a safe to feel them.
However, developing the ability to feel, accept, trust, and appreciate all your emotions (the good, the bad, and the ugly) is a vital step on the healing journey. It’s impossible to heal if you skip over feeling the bad ones. You can't selectively numb feelings. When you numb the bad, you are numbing your ability to feel the good too.
So where do you start?
Feeling begins with awareness. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But it's not for survivors. The human brain is programmed to avoid pain at all costs....
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,...