Control

Today has found me in a paradox of recovery. I am strong and breaking down cages from long ago all so I can live free and whole. As I am finding this freedom, I find that the structures of my life rub me the wrong way causing spirals of anxiety to flood my system.

I was not prepared for this part of my healing and recovery. I knew that I would change. I knew that my relationships with others would change. I have not been prepared for others reactions to my changes. I have not been ready for the incredible exhaustion that comes from building these new muscles and hold these healthy boundaries.

I have found in these past few weeks that I quickly reach a level of intolerance in my every day dealings with people. There was a time when I would be the chameleon by adjusting my mood and affect for all around me. I did it without thought. Its a survival mechanism. On the days that I could not “solve” the riddle of what the other person wanted from me, I would curl up inside my innermost hole and wrack with shockwaves of doubt, shame, guilt, and fear. This was my reaction as an adult to people I love.

I have been learning boundaries, and I have been beginning to understand that I have the power and ability to say no. It was the weirdest experience knowing I could say no, and they would not turn on me, hurt me, or silence me. It was beautiful. It freed me and my relationships.

I am learning now about myself. I am learning who I am through my own lens. I am learning how to stand on my own. I am more confident in my skin. I am also a bit fragile at the moment.

My confidence and beliefs in myself are not set in stone. They are new, and today they took a full frontal assault from the world. Its been almost a week of cannon fire and bullets ripping through my new foundation. I realized this morning, before I even left the house, that today was going to be a day I needed to be gentle with myself. I did not heed my own warnings, and I am paying the consequences in my body.

I had to say no tonight to something I dearly love because I would have dissolved at the slightest pressure. I could not withstand even friendly banter for I would have rewrote into hate mail. I could not withstand a withering look. I could not have stood beneath the power of a hug.

Today I hate my recovery even though it is my greatest desire to heal and be whole. I hate that I have to withdraw because the energy it takes to hold my new boundaries drains me. I hate that my trauma becomes a weapon in the hands of others simply because they trigger me, I hate that I have to think in advance and be so aware of myself to know I have to say no, or tomorrow I can’t say yes.

Today I hate the aches and pains of muscle spasms because of all of the stress and adrenaline this battle for my future takes. Today, all I want is peace and rest. The answer is simple and yet very hard. I am safe in this place, and what I most need to do is let down the walls and rest. I survived by holding the walls created by a child. I cannot keep building walls and clinging to them in hopes they will save me. Boundaries are healthy, but the walls that I can’t even release in the privacy of my home, those are the ones that need to go. I need to let go. I need to surrender and trust the tools and lessons I’ve learned. I need to surrender and have faith that I can really do this. My walls have been a prison, and it’s time to walk free. I imagine I will falter a few times. I imagine there will still come days when it is wiser to put distance between me and people I will want to make happy, as if I really could. I need to be ok with the raw days and be gentle with the new soul gaining her strength and walking among the waves of this world. She really is a beautiful thing, this woman I am becoming.

Until next time……

Sami_Sunset – Light Bringer

Tonight, I find myself in a moment after discovery. I have been on this leg of the recovery journey for over a year. I’m in a new place.  A place that doesn’t even resemble where I was when I began this walk. I keep growing, learning, and adjusting my course as I come to terms with who I am authentically. I’ve been working on a decision lately. I gave myself weeks to think about it, pray about, and finally to just take the step. There was a peace that came with the exhale I set my foot onto the path. But today, all the doubts and fears descended like the ravenous monsters from my childhood.

I didn’t fully explain my name when I chose it for my Twitter account. If I am being honest with myself, I didn’t fully understand it at the time. There were some other discoveries I had yet to make. I have long associate the names Samantha and Sami with my favorite names. They are safe, and warm, and a balm to my spirit. I didn’t know why until recently. The abusers that trained me, sold me, broke me, used names to communicate the behaviors that I should exhibit. My own name became the name used when it was time for punishment, but Sami, Sami is the name they used when it was time to go home. It was the name of safety. It was what they called the little girl who was me when it was time to shut down and go home.

There are Light Bringers in this world who shine the light into the darkness. The brightest of them have often lived in that darkness. They made it their own as it was the only way to survive. They walked it, lived it, breathed it, conformed to it because that was the way to have hope that they could make it to tomorrow. When they find the way out, what they desire most is to burn the light further into the dark and bring others forth. They find the way, and they want to help others make it as well.

Being a Light Bringer is a beautiful gift when shared with other survivors because it imbues a strength in all who see it. The Light Bringer is a beacon showing that you are not alone, and all of the people who want you to feel that way are lying. The trouble comes when the Light Bringer points out the obvious flaws in the thinking and actions of this world. Our world is created on illusion that we can prevent the bad things from happening. We believe that just by working hard and doing all of the right things that we can hold the darkness at bay and maintain our control. Bad things cannot happen when we do the right things at the right time.

You can see it for yourself in conversations about almost any world event. We want to know what happened, but we also want to know the why and how. We will say, this happened because of their beliefs, that happened because of what they were wearing, you would have been safe if you had stayed home, going out after dark was the danger, people not like myself are the hazards, if you would only, why didn’t you……. The list goes on and on. It is not a list really about the event. The list is about all of the things that we can do to prevent whatever it is from happening to us. Because the alternative is not something we really want to accept.

I was trafficked and exploited as a child from the ages of 4 – 7. I have googled trafficking and exploitation, many times, and most of the information to be found is for teens, adults, women, foreigners, but its harder to find articles and people talking about little kids. When a person is raped, we analyze their clothing, behavior for all time whether they have changed or not, where were they, why were they there, anything and everything to put a reason as to why it happened to that person. We as a society practically make it an inevidable conclusion that the perpetrator could not help but rape that person. They didn’t have a choice. Besides its not that bad, just shake it off, we can’t ruin the perpetrator’s life because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and could not help but rape that person. Bad people don’t exist. Bad things only happen to those who deserve it.

We run into a bit of a cognitive dissonance when faced with a 4 year old rape victim. We, as a society, cannot write that off, and we don’t really like that. There are statistics galore out there, and we quote them at each other and say something must change. Yet as we say this, we analyze over and over how did it happen to them and that is how we fix the problem. The problem is not in that place, though, the problem is in the dark. The problem is in the things that we don’t want to acknowledge and face. Don’t look, don’t see, doesn’t exist.

I am one of the ones who chose not to exist, so I could survive in that dark. I am not a statistic, but a person with a story. Some if it is heartbreaking, some of it is hilarious, some of it is ugly, some of it is filled with all of the mean and horrible things I have done, some of it is filled with my mistakes, and some of it is so beautiful. There is a time coming when we will have the option of being honest and saying that darkness exists, evil exists, bad things happen and we cannot always control it. A time is coming when people will want you to ignore the full ramifications of what they want you to do, say, or think.

By not looking in the dark, shining a light, we are ignoring one of the few things we really do have control over in this world. We ignore the impact of our relationships with each other. We forget just how important it is to love one another. The dark is a scary place, but it still cannot exist in the light. If you walk into a room, and turn on the light the darkness must flee like scuttling cockroaches.

It is not easy to be a Light Bringer, and I know quite a few these days. I have found them in my real life and also in my digital life. Even as they stand and shine their light, there are those who sling mud at them trying to darken the brightness with which they stand. These people, these Light Bringers, are not statistics. They are real flesh and blood. They tell the stories of their lives that are hard to hear not just because of what happened, but because it means the numbers aren’t just on a page. The numbers are living, breathing, crying, hugging, loving, amazing people who have suffered and chosen to live and grow and burn brightly. They did not choose to stay in the dark. They did not choose to turn into the dark as the ones who came before. The world understands that better than it does the ones who choose to love. The world sees pain and understands why it creates pain and propagates pain. When the world sees pain that has turned into hope and love and infects others, than it must be stopped, for then it means that the dark does exist and it can be defeated. It just can’t be defeated by ignoring it.

My name is Sami_Sunset. I am in the sunset phase of my recovery. Granted this phase may still take quite a bit, but it is ending. I will not have to hide behind the safety of my digital name. I will be a Light Bringer and take my place among those who shine into the dark. You are loved, and you are not alone.

Until next time.

#IfMyWoundsWereVisible

Tomorrow, June 1, is World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day and the hashtag #IfMyWoundsWereVisible is the rally cry of us survivors. For each of us, the recovery journey is entirely unique, and yet the similarities and the choruses of me toos cannot be denied despite how much our abusers want us to feel utterly alone. This is my journey and my story about my wounds and what might have been and still what can be.

#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, my skin would be scar tissue on top of scar tissue. Her words were so long ago, and yet they have resounded through my mind and my body every minute of every day since they were voiced. W was my beginning as a survivor. Her cruelty knew no bounds, and her words were sharper than any knife. She was not just satisfied by speaking the words herself; it was far more pleasing to her ears to have me repeat the horrible words over and over during each punishment. So, her voice speaking of my mistakes, frailties, weaknesses, humiliations, and idiocy has been replaced my own. Long after I had hidden the memories so I could live, the words still rang throughout my life in my own voice.

#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, you would not question why I find it so hard to stand up and speak with confidence on even the most basic of things like my name. You would not wonder why I shake and tremble in a room full of loud noises that overwhelm my senses to the point I cannot determine whether I am really in danger or not. You would understand why the simplest failure and fault in my memory makes me want to hide instead of stand and continue. You would know why I both prefer to remain unnoticed and crave to be loved and accepted.

#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, my heart would be laid bare before you. There are no secrets when the wounds are seen. It would not be just a matter of vulnerability, but a level of truth that even the most honest person cannot achieve. You would know my shame. You would see my pain and my despair. You would witness the strength of will, hope, and faith it takes for me to do everything. You would also know my empathy for your pain is real and not just empty words from an empty vessel.

#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, you would know that you are not alone. We would know that we are not alone. I would know that I am not alone. The greatest weapon, the greatest lie, and the hardest wound to heal is the one of isolation. The secrets kept on behalf of our abusers force us to put up walls and barriers with the outside world. Without those walls, it would be too easy to slip and tell. Those walls and barriers protect us from others noticing our pain, our horror, our stories. Our cages are forged with secret upon secret, lie upon lie, and fear upon fear until the world around us is at such a distance it feels like we cannot be seen or heard. I feel like I cannot be seen or heard. I feel like I don’t even belong in this world, like I cannot touch it, or taste it, or feel it for the distance is too great.

#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, I could cry the healing tears that I so often deny. I will hold them back, hold them in until I am fit to explode because who am I. I have no value. My pain is small, it doesn’t matter. I look and see the pain around me, and the words I speak to my damaged heart are not ones of kindness. The words I speak to my damaged heart are words of blistering criticism. How dare you break? what is wrong with you, my heart, that you cannot just move on. If I could see for myself, I could not deny my own damage. I could find the healing in the tears, in feeling the pain, in acknowledging and accepting, that I can release it all and begin to put those pieces into a beautiful mosaic of the love I so desire.

#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, I would have been a little girl. I could have been a child. My innocence would not have been perverted because their secrets would not have been kept. It rarely starts with the physical pain. It begins with the words. Its always the words that snake and sneak deep inside of us laying eggs on the way into the inner sanctum of who we are in our core. The eggs hatch and spread laying roots that twist and twine with other roots becoming stronger as they are reinforced over and over. If the words are not a secret, then the actions that follow are not either. I lived a double life. My life with W filled with pain and humiliation and things that have words that I wish I didn’t know. I also lived a life with my parents and brother where my mom used all the voices in the bed time stories, and my dad would carry me on his shoulders and in his arms of strong protection. I could not have carried the secrets from my dark life into my light life.

#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, I would not be who I am. I will not trade who I am because there is good that has come from my hell. I will find my voice that I may stand for you so your wounds may be visible where mine were not.  I will be resilient and strong for a future where the wounds won’t have to be visible because it will be a different place. I am a survivor, and today that is enough for me. Today, the weight is not so heavy I cannot breathe. This moment is not so bad and that is because in this moment you can see, and it is not a question of #IfMyWoundsWereVisible. You can see the wounds; you can see me.

Until next time, thank you, and good night.

12 Life Impacting Symptoms – Complex PTSD Survivors Can Endure ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

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Complex trauma is still a relatively new field of psychology. Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, results from enduring complex trauma.

Complex trauma is ongoing or repeated interpersonal trauma, where the victim is traumatised in captivity, and where there is no perceived way to escape. Ongoing child abuse, is captivity abuse, because the child cannot escape. Domestic violence, is another example. Enforced prostitution/sex trafficking is another.

Complex PTSD is a proposed disorder, which is different to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Many of the issues and symptoms endured by complex trauma survivors, are outside of the list of symptoms within the (Uncomplicated) PTSD diagnostic criterion. Complex PTSD does acknowledge and validate these added symptoms.

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The impact of complex trauma, is very different to a one time or short lived trauma. The effect of repeated/ongoing trauma – caused by people – changes the brain, and also changes the survivor at a core level.  It changes the way survivors view the…

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Fluid

****TRIGGER WARNING**** Oblique and minimally detailed descriptions of childhood maltreatment are discussed in the recovery journey talked about below.

 

A fluid is a substance that can take the shape of whatever vessel into which it is poured. I have been a fluid for over 30 years, and I am only just now in these past few months awakening to that fact and what it means. My counselor last year suggested that I try new things to find out my feelings about them. He encouraged me to try something that I have always wanted to do but haven’t. I tried to make plans to try white water rafting, but it all fell apart and my friends and I were unable to make it happen.

I kind of understood where he was going with his request. He is able to see things that I can barely grasp from my perspective. Mainly because he is a guide on my journey, but he cannot do the work. He can see more of the picture because he doesn’t have to feel or see the revelations of my mind from my past. I don’t mean to say he is without emotion because there have been more than a few times that I would be describing and event in this dead flat voice, and I would hear him choke up as he asks a question to make sure he heard me correctly. There have been many a session I didn’t even cry until I heard or saw his emotions. It was like I could feel, but what those feelings meant beyond their intensity was not within my knowledge.

In my sessions, I have learned to put words to my emotions. I have learned to quantify and qualify my pain, my anger, my fear, my gut wrenching despair. To find my healing, I have to feel what the little girl who was forgot in order to survive. Do you know how much hope a child carries? Do you know that no matter the difficulties and problems there is still a piece of that child that will hope because hope is life. Hope means that there are possibilities.

My hope, my survival, was in my ability to be fluid. I learned quickly to become whatever the person in front of me needed, wanted desired. Some of them would be very straight forward, and all they really wanted was a hole to fill. The hard ones were the ones who wanted more. W was my main caretaker outside of my family. Her and her husband are the ones responsible for breaking me and beginning my training as a sex slave. She was also one of the most sadistic people I have ever personally met and interacted with on a regular basis. She was unpredictable in her desires and wants and needs.

In the beginning she was fairly straightforward, she wanted me to obey and service her and her husband, until he died. After he died, she became harder and more harsh. I could not work out the when, but at least once a week there were days when what she really wanted was my pain however she could get it. She would make me do things, only to flip and say that is something only bad girls do. Then there would be punishment. She would take my most basic rights like going to the bathroom and make it into something humiliating. She got such a thrill out of watching me trying to please her on days when her pleasure was really watching me fail and continue to try anyway.

I became fluid in those days. I learned to do it without thought. In all situations, I would analyze it and determine how best to survive. If it was being loud and silly, then that is what I was. If i needed to be the strong, do everything, gopher girl, then that is who I was. If I needed to be sexy and knowledgeable, then that was who I was. If they wanted my innocence and purity, then that is what I would give. I did not really exist beyond their desires. My opinion would only come out after the path of least resistance had been determined, and it would change with the wind because I craved safety, security, and what measure of hope of survival I would get by just agreeing and being what you needed.

The reality of living my life like this brought me to my knees a few months ago and threw me into the worst depression I have had as an adult. I didn’t want to live with this reality. It broke my heart to realize that my whole life, in every interaction, small or large, I made myself fit for you, whoever you are to me. I did it, not because I was asked, but because so very long ago it was how I lived.  It was how I minimized the pain that was coming whether I liked it or not. It was why I carried such guilt over things that were done to me. It was how I could keep my hope. My hope that ensured my survival and kept me going.

I pulled myself away from almost all interactions with people simply because I no longer had a vessel to fill and I was a puddle on the floor. I couldn’t have told you how I felt about anything. I could tell you that my favorite color was purple, one of the few things I have always known about myself. As I began to sort and come to terms with this aha moment, I began to solidify. I began to realize that there was more substance to me, and a lot of it had been found in the past few years.

I no longer want to be purely fluid. I want to know what I really think and feel in situations without first taking taking the temperature of my surroundings. I want to have dreams that are mine, and even if they are similar to yours, I will have my own milestones, my own difficulties, my own joys, my own journey that cannot be co-opted by you even accidentally. There are situations in life where it is necessary to bend and adjust for others, but not at the expense of my whole. There are also situations in life where it will be necessary for another to bend and adjust for me, but again not at the expense of their whole. I do not want to be so solid I am brittle, but I no longer wish to fill the vessel where you think or want me to be kept.

There is another kind of fluid, and it is found in the grace of movement and form. Fluid is found in the way that one move of the body comes from the one before. As I heal on this journey, my movement and my life will be more fluid. One moment, one event will build and become the next, and the next, until a grace filled dance is what will define my life and not the shape of a vessel given to me by another.

Thank you, Until next time

Aftermath

I am living in the aftermath of my latest reckoning with my past. It has rocked my world even further than I had realized was possible. Walls that I had built in my mind when I was 4 have come crashing down, and that part of me that I had caged for my own protection has been released. She is free, and she has so much to learn.

It doesn’t feel safe this world that I find myself in as I make these realization and accept the past I hid for my own survival. I’m at a point in my trauma therapy where the realizations are from the very core of where it all began. These were the pieces that have been broken for so long they have been incorporated and accepted as reality, no matter how wrong or harsh they were.

**TRIGGER WARNING**

The first of these memories was like pulling a tooth to get it out of mind and off of my tongue. The words were fought for and won from an ugliness perpetrated against me by very selfish people who were no my parents, but they were people whom we lived with and with whom I was entrusted. They broke me slowly at first, but once they had reached a point where I did not fight, they progressed a lot faster. I began having regular training sessions in how to behave sexually in different situations. They gave me names for the different behaviors I was supposed exhibit.

It came to me this week, the name they used whenever it was time for me to be punished for any infraction. It was my own name. My name was a bad girl. The number of times I heard those words, over and over throughout the punishment section of my training. The hardest part was when I was punished for doing as I was told. I would obey, and their response when I was done, was that only bad girls do those things. “My name” is a bad girl. Over and over. I would even have to repeat it back to them, “My name” is a bad girl. Bad girl, bad girl.

These words have echoed throughout my life from the time this memory was created over 30 years ago. It has been a root that has grown into my foundation. A thought that has reverberated round and round my mind tainting thoughts that had nothing to do with my past and only my present. You don’t like me because I am a bad girl. I am always wrong so why even speak because I am a bad girl. My pain never ends because I am a bad girl. My heart is broken and I am alone because I am a bad girl. I deserve the bad things in my life. I deserve the mistreatment. I deserve to never look up except at your discretion.

I know these specific memories are not the only ones that have fed the lies that have been my foundation of how I think and feel about myself. There are many more. This one, right now, has lowered walls and opened doors to parts of me that I did not even know existed. She is free now, this one who was punished over and over and told she was a bad girl.

She hasn’t seen the light of day in over 30 years, and she is a bit afraid of this world she has awoken into. She can be quite skittish after all of things that she has endured. But her strength is unparalled, and she will not give up. So if you find her crying and cringing in this world, show her a little love. She will not give up, she will grow up to be a beautiful woman who wants to change the world. If you stumble across her, say hi for she does not know the ways of this world. She is trying to understand all of the rules and protocols. She is trying and working and studying so that this world is hers as well.

She is beloved of the one who created her, and her name will only belong to her. It is not given or taken away or damaged by anyone in this world. Her name is hers to give, keep, and save for those who are worthy.

Until next time.

 

 

Ownership

**TRIGGER WARNING**

 

One of the ideas that I have struggled with the most this past year is that I was a slave. I was owned. Words that are hard enough to type and still stumble and bumble off of my tongue. My heart clenches, my hands shake, and my mind screams NOOOOOOOO every time I delve into this subject in therapy or on my own. I still ask how? why?  Questions for which I will never really have answers.

We lost our home when I was about 4, and my happy little family ended up in the care of our pastor and his wife. I’ll call them W, wife, and P, pastor. We had been a part of this small church since before I was born. As an adult, I have had many conversations with my parents about the circumstances of being a part of this church and to my understanding, like any abusive relationship, W and P didn’t start off with control of my parent’s lives and by proxy mine. They made them doubt themselves, what they thought, what the believed, until all decisions went through W and P for approval.

The long story short, we found ourselves living in the crowded parsonage with W and P and several others. I was left there a good bit while my parents both worked.  don’t think they had to put a lot of work into the grooming process, for now, I’ll say maybe a week or two, to break the initial barriers and teach me to keep their secrets behind the mask they helped me create. A couple of weeks to undermine my faith in my parents ability to rescue me. A couple of weeks to turn me inward, so I would never look outward and see hope. It took them a bit longer to break my spirit.

In the beginning, I fought every demand every time, and then I fought only in the mornings or until right after lunch. Then I stopped fighting all together, there was no point. There were no superheroes or anyone else to notice. W and P trained me in all the ways they preferred to be serviced. I would have to earn my meals, sometimes each bite. I would have to earn the right to go to the bathroom, and sometimes that was their way of punishing me. Humiliating and shaming a child so young is really not hard when they are not seen as anything more than a plaything. W and P could be particularly evil in their punishments because they did not want to leave obvious marks for my parents to notice, one of their favorites was leaving me in cold water in the bath tub.

Along the time that I stopped fighting is the time I learned to stare my way into paintings that adorned the walls of every room. It did not always work, as they derived a lot of pleasure out of my reactions. They would make me come back by pinching, cold water, or simply smacking me every time my eyes would glaze or stare into the distance. They wanted me to look at them, in their eyes, at all times as they had their way. Sometimes they wanted the tears, sometimes they wanted the whimpers, sometimes they wanted faked cries of pleasure. My job was to figure it out if I ever wanted that particular activity to end.

I soon learned that I was not to be just for their use. I was trained in how to do many things because I was to be special. I don’t remember the cost paid for my services in dollars and cents, I do know the pieces of me that were carved and walled off from the rest of me in order to survive. I was special, this girl I became for them, the girl who was not a girl but a construct of their will and desires.

As I come to terms with these memories, I have come to realize the number of times that I still behaved as if my value could only be derived in services whether cooking, cleaning, volunteering, or time sacrificed for others. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do it for me because I was invisible and unworthy of this effort. I couldn’t derive value from my own services because my only value was the worth to others. I have had to withdraw from so many things not because of what I was doing or for who, but because my mindset was all wrong. The activities, the things I chose to do with my time, were draining me of everything because I was still becoming whatever was needed without ever seeing that what was needed was me. I have been a chameleon my whole life, and I didn’t even know it.

I am discovering me. I am claiming ownership over myself. They sold my body, but they did not own it. They stole it for their uses. I am learning what I really feel, think, like, and love. I am finding love for myself. Healing comes slowly, and often with a great many tears. Healing comes from the inside out, and the ache it brings is often difficult to bear because with it comes the acceptance that my skewed view of my reality needs to change. It does change. It becomes clearer with each click of memory in place, each understanding of what happened and how it links to my now, and each time I choose to love and accept myself.

Thank you, until next time……