Hope Burns

The world is new today, and it has nothing to do with the beginning of a year. It is new because I have taken a fork in the road. My journey now is different from ever before. It is  fresh snow and a path not taken. It begins with hope and a dream.

I am a trauma survivor. I have complex PTSD from 4 years of being trafficked when I was young. I have reached a point in my recovery where I am more healed than damaged. The problem with being healed is it is new and untried. My brain in all of its glory is familiar with the other way, that is what it knows. It’s the down hill trail with fewest obstructions. The fact that I am attempting to take a new path to end with a different result is often inconsequential to the normal functioning of my brain.

There is a battle waging each day within my heart and mind. This battle is different from ever before because it is not a fight for survival. I am no longer awakening each day to talk myself into living, breathing, and working. I am now fighting for the permanent changes within myself. At times I find this battle as complex and heated as the fight to live.

I had a really good Christmas this year, and I could not enjoy it. Through the trauma therapy, I came to realize that I expect bad things to happen in direct proportion to the good things that happen to me. So, if I get a compliment I expect at least one if not more insult and tear down. Every gift is followed with a loss. My trauma brain does not trust goodness and kindness for it cannot last. I am going back to school starting next week. I am going back to pursue a dream that is mine and not someone else’s. For Christmas, my parents bought me a laptop. I got to watch my niece and nephew open their presents and be so very joyful. Inside, each good thing that happened to me and that I witnessed hurt and felt like I was being lashed.

With my counselor, I was able to sit and explore what was going on inside. My abuser/trafficker used to make me pay for every compliment or good thing that happened to me. There was a cost for every lollipop from a bank teller to every present from unknowing parents and grandparents. The cost was taken from me in secret, but I had learned that I didn’t deserve good things. I also learned to only accept the good I was willing to pay for. But the people in my life now are healthy and wonderful people, they don’t expect a return on a meal bought, gift given, or laugh shared.

My trauma brain, in an effort to keep the scales balanced would give me a cup inside for the good things. Anything that overfilled the cup resulted in an internal shut down. I could only be so happy, so joyful, so delighted every day. The size of the cup would change based on things that I do not comprehend. Some days my cup was large enough to encompass a full day of good things big and small. Other days my cup would be filled with a sincere thank you. This Christmas my cup was so very small that is filled days before the holiday began, and I did not even realize it.

I am choosing to pick up hope for the first time since I cast it aside at the age of 6. I haven’t faced what made me give it up yet, and I am sure I will someday. I don’t need it for today. I just need to pick it up first. It’s like a piece of driftwood that has been washed up on shore after spending years beaten by the waves. The letters can barely be seen, and they are almost too shallow to be felt by the softest touch. The simple act of picking it up burns away the rotting wood and reveals the metal inside. The heat radiates into me, glowing with the warmth of a new day in early spring.

I know what my brain is trying to do, and that means I can deal with it. I can fight the lies that say that I have a limit on goodness with the truth that there are no such limits in existence. I can love others without limits as well, though I imagine that will also involve more battles as well. I must stay present first. When I feel the welling desire to run and flee, I must stand and be aware instead. Hope and kindness burn, but not with the fire of damage. They burn because they are awakening what has been long dead inside. Jesus is my savior, and that does not stop with my salvation. He redeems it all.



Where am I today? I am at a point in my recovery/healing journey where I just have to be honest. I cannot hide from those who love me. I cannot downplay the depth of feelings. I cannot be afraid to show my fears and anxieties. I am at a point where the rubber meets the road, and this all becomes real. I can no longer live in a state of denial or semi-denial. It’s the time where I have to say it over and over, I was trained and sold. I was a slave. I was trafficked. I was forced to do things that no person, let alone a child, should ever have to do.

I am at the point where I have to trust in bits and pieces, that those who are in my life want to know all of me. They want to know me even on the bad days. They are not afraid of the darkness because it has always been there and it is not me. They may choose to put up boundaries for their own sake but that is not a rejection of me. They really do love me, and by choosing continuously to deny them access to my life, I am shutting off the very reason I have undertaken this journey. I want love. I want to love, and to be loved. I want intimacy between relationships, not in the sense of a physicality, but in the sense of two souls sharing life.

I am coming to terms with two realities that I am facing. I am angry. It’s ok to be angry. I have misunderstood anger my whole life, and it took this process to even see it. Last week, I discovered that my latest bout with emotional numbness had nothing to do with sadness, fear, or a new memory. My numbness came because of anger. I couldn’t figure out why without my counselor’s help. He helped to put words to it, but mostly he helped to slow down and really try to track the emotions to where the hang ups were in my past. When I thought of anger, I saw in my mind the cold cruelty of w who enjoyed my pain. When I thought of anger, I saw in my mind the uncontrolled verbal rage of my dad. Those were options when I thought of anger, and, in defense, my mind didn’t want to be either one so it chose to go numb.

Neither of those is true anger. Anger is not rage. Anger is not cruelty. Anger is not pain. Anger is a proper response to injustice. It is a righteous response to handle those situations in life where injustice happens, from bullying to cruelty. Anger is about standing up and speaking out in this world. It is not meant to be a weapon used against one another. Anger is not an emotion to fear; it is a path to courage. Anger is not about tearing down another or proving my point. Anger states that is wrong, it is not ok, and it must be fixed. Anger can change the world especially when tempered with love for myself and also for all those who are my neighbors, near and far. A neighbor is not a physical description, but an emotional one.

I have found as I journey that my family is more vast than I have every been able to appreciate. As the walls fall, as my heart breaks and heals, as my mind is opened, as the scar tissue falls away, I am able to see how full my life has truly become.

I am angry and it is a thing of beauty.


****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


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.


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.






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……

Day 1

I have wanted to start this blog for quite a while, and I find that now that I am here it is harder than I expected. Why am I here, writing a blog? I am a writer. It is one of the few things I have known about myself with little doubt. I am also trying to come to terms with severe abuse from my early childhood. I am able to talk about and share my recovery journey with my friends and family to a shallow extent, but there are a lot of things that I downplay or just don’t talk about because I feel it would hurt them.  I still have not been able to share what happened to me while in the care of those they trusted.

It started coming back to me last year. I had been through therapy before because of some abuse when I was a teenager and adult. As soon as the memories started to surface, my emotions lost all sense of reason. My body started to feel like it was beyond my control. My depression resurfaced almost immediately throwing me into a trench where I could not see the light of day. Flashbacks overtook my present making even the simplest task nearly impossible. My health got worse and worse. I got help right away this time, and yet I was still unprepared for what I was about to uncover about my own life.

These were different from anything I had ever known. I couldn’t talk about it from my perspective, I could only say she or the little girl. I didn’t want to associate with what I was seeing, hearing, or feeling. I didn’t want to believe the things I remembered. I didn’t want to feel the emotions. I started to shut down. I stopped being able to do all of the things that I used to do.  It felt like I could barely breathe through all the pain.

I kept moving, kept going, kept shoving it down. I still went to therapy, and I would purge the poisonous memories each week, but I did not want them to be mine. I kept asking my counselor if I was crazy. I didn’t want to believe my own mind, my own body, my own experience. I didn’t want this to be my tale. I had known that I had been molested from the time I was 11 or 12. I had known I had been raped at 17 and then again as an adult. The things I remembered at this point were far harder for me to deal with then the memories I had always known.

I don’t want to diminish my experiences from when I was an older child because I have come to understand that abuse is abuse. I cannot deny the long term effects these few experiences had on me. The new stuff, the new memories were far more numerous. There were now hours upon hours, days, weeks, years that chronicled the breaking of a child’s mind, body, and spirit all without my parents noticing. All without me remembering. The child forgot in order to be a child when she was finally free. The child was me. I was broken intentionally by adults who didn’t give a whit about me as a person, but only saw me as  a thing to be used and sold and traded.

I almost gave up when I finally reached that level of acceptance after months and months of denial. It took over a month of therapy twice a week, staying in touch with my family doctor, and quitting pretty much all extra-curricular activities before I reached a point where I could live with the knowledge.  It’s still quite suffocating at times. My mind will shut down now when it gets to be too much. Some days my mind shuts down and shuts off my emotions at the drop of a hat, and other times I make it to the level of understanding before it gives me a break.

I found twitter while scouring the internet for any and all resources dealing with childhood sexual trauma. I found Trauma Recovery University, and I joined Twitter for the Monday night Q&A. I find I need community, and I need to know that my experiences while unique to me and my story does not mean I am alone in this world. I can and do find healing in a chorus of me toos on a you tube video or twitter feed, even in my anonymity.

This is my blog about the truth of my reality as I rarely get to share it, without censorship by me or others, in my preferred format, writing.

Thank you for reading.