Which Story Are You Telling?

Child abuse survivors don't have just one story. We have three.
 
The first story is no story, the hidden story, when we are living and breathing out of the toxic shame of our past and spending every moment of our day distracting ourselves and disconnecting from the pain. We don't want to feel it, we don't want to think about it, we don't even want to acknowledge that it happened. But that can't happen for long before the truth catches up to us.

The second is the "Trauma Story," the one that takes the most courage to tell. It's the one about what happened to us. It's a story of trauma, abuse, and victimization. We all have to start there. It's important to realize this is actually a story about the abuser, the person who hurt you and betrayed your innocence, heart, and trust. It's the story of what happened to you, not who you are.

You can't move forward with your healing until you acknowledge the impact of this traumatic experience and allow yourself to feel the...

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Reconnecting With the Power of Your Breath

The power of your breath is that it is always in the moment, it is always something you can return to.

Self-awareness is key to starting a successful 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 toxic coping strategies. 

I do a lot of trauma education with my clients. I know it provided me with the 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 was that I lived with toxic stress as a child and as an adult, that toxic stress was still living inside of me as if it was still happening and all my systems were on high alert, all the time!

As I started to...

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How Adopting a Dog Made Me Face My Inner Child

On April 8th, 2019, I was babysitting the toddler of a family in Portland. The mother messaged me in the days before letting me know that a dog would be there. When I got there, a small Pitbull mix came to greet me at the door, very timid and shy. The mother introduced her as Roxy but quickly made it very clear that she would not be staying with the family for long. She explained that they had rescued Roxy from another family who had not adequately explained that she had separation anxiety and that between raising their first young child, full-time work, and still getting the house in order since they had just moved to town, they did not have the time or energy to properly train her to not be so anxious and simply had to heavily medicate her when they left her alone.

This instantly broke my heart and it broke even more to watch this poor dog fall apart once the mother left for her appointment. The dog was so panicked and so unsure, it took her minutes to even walk over to allow me...

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Why I Went Public With My Story

This month, I celebrate 15 years since I started telling my story in public.

For the first 10 years of my healing, I felt responsible for the abuse I suffered. Since no one else was talking about it, it felt bad, dirty, and shameful. But I was lucky enough to find a support group early on in my healing that helped to change this narrative in my head. I quickly learned that the blame I was feeling was the same blame all of these other survivors were feeling. We all shared the same toxic thoughts about not being good enough or not being able to ask for support. We all had to teach ourselves a new language of hope and healing. I came out of this support group more empowered and certain than ever that the abuse I suffered could have been prevented and it could have been stopped by the adults around me if they had been more informed and more empowered through education. I realized that if the adults around me had known how to talk about boundaries, safe touch, and sex in a healthy and...

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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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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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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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Life is Constantly Trying to Teach You, You Just Need to Listen

Life will constantly present you with situations in which there is a lesson to be learned, a feeling to be acknowledged, a truth to be set free. These situations come in many different forms, like a bad relationship, a bump in your career, a triggering memory, even just a casual conversation with someone that brings up an issue for you.
 
It might feel like there are no breaks from these situations, it might seem like you are constantly battling these tough moments. And you might be exhausted from them, feeling frustrated and annoyed that these things aren't going your way and it makes you dread the future, having to deal with more and more.
 
But the truth is, with each challenge you face, you are developing an important strength. You are developing resilience, something we can't develop without real life experiences to practice, grow, and gain wisdom. These bumps in the road are completely necessary for your healing, for gaining life experience, for...
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Your Negative Self-Image is Holding You Back

Once I started to work on myself and recognized how my body was responding to trauma, how the tension in my body was feeding my need to defend and protect myself, I realized how that fed into my beliefs that there was something wrong with me.
 
There was something wrong but there was nothing wrong with me. What was wrong was that I had carried a negative self image for such a long time that I did not see how it made me feel about myself. It had become the lens through which I saw the world.
 
As I worked to help my body let go of chronic tension and find balance, the defensive side of me would flare up, showing up in how I approached my relationships, expecting the worst and defaulting to self-sabotage. But as my body began to finally feel safe, a new awareness of myself emerged. 
 
As I learned to be present in my body and connected to the present moment, I started to hear my own thoughts. It was a bit shocking in the beginning. All this time, I thought others...
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The Healing Journey Can Be Filled With Uncertainty

So much of the healing journey feels like a break down rather than break through. We hope for things to feel better but often, things just feel worse.

Stepping up to heal your life is an uncertain path at first because what we really want is something or someone to tell us exactly what to do, what to expect, and how to make it through. We want to know what the steps are and exactly what we can expect going through them.

Unfortunately, since survivors are all so different and our experiences are so varied, no one can give you that certainty of exactly how your healing journey is going to unfold. All anyone can tell you is what you can expect and what to do when things get hard.

However, there are certain things, universal things, that all survivors need and that will make it easier to heal:

1. A safe place to tell their story

2. To be believed and validated

3. To be educated about the impact of abuse

4. To be educated about the steps of healing

5. To be encouraged with hope

6. To be...

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