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Archive for October, 2009

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Nine months.  That’s the length of time this next of my age 31 journal entries covers.  This would be the same length of time it takes for a baby to travel from conception to birth.

It seems strange to me that over a quarter of a century later I cannot begin to be objective about myself, my story, or my process as contained in these writings.  I still distance myself from myself, and can give myself total permission to do this distancing now because THAT was a different Linda, in a different set of circumstances at a different place in a different time.  I also continue to distance myself from myself because I have no other choice:  I was made that way.

It strikes me how remote I have always been from myself in my life except for the very NEAR past and the in-the-moment experiences I have as each moment of my life unfolds into the future.  It seems that my past carries me, not that I carry it.  It is too vast, too painful and in too many pieces.

I cannot think of a story that could be more closely like the reversal of the ordinary Peter Pan and the Lost Boys story than mine is in these pages.  What would that story look like if the sexes of all the characters were reversed?  I would be Peter Panella with my Lost Girls.   My mother would be the Wicked Captainella Hook.  Marlin (name changed) in my story would be the male reversal-same character of Tinker Belle!  Leo (named changed)  would be the ever-devoted, right thinking and well-intentioned Wendy.

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In the nine month period of time that elapses in the pages here, I left my husband and my children in ‘their’ home and rented a ‘Room of My Own‘.  I completed my BA college degree.

It has never until this moment struck me that the trials and tribulations of a recovery-from-abuse journey happens in its own story version of a Trauma Drama.  If we had never experienced the trauma of abuse in the first place, there would never be a need for this Recovery Trauma Drama story to ever happen, either.

As Peter Panella in my story, all the Lost Girls were part of my self.  There was a dissociated me not only for every developmental stage of childhood I had missed going through ‘normally’, but also hundreds and hundreds more of them that had each experienced some horror caused by my mother along each step of the way.  Each Lost Girl holds her piece of my memory along with the experience of having her experience of her experience of trauma.  In this way each one of them holds her own consciousness about what the Main Me, Linda, cannot remember except through the emotions held within the body that all of us share.

Nobody ever told me that these unintegrated shards of my existence could not magically become part of some magical WHOLE PERSON named Linda.  Nobody ever told me that what I was really accomplishing in my recovery journey was the recognition, identification, and naming of all these separate dissociated Lost Girl pieces of my self.  Nobody ever told me that they were NEVER going to become anything else.

Nobody told me my brain-mind-self had formed from the beginning of my life under so much trauma that continued for 18 years that I will NEVER be able to obtain or create a single-self-entity that resembles the one that ordinary-childhood people are created with.  Nobody told me that as a consequence of my childhood I was made into a different sort of person.

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In these journal writings I am describing a catching-up-to-Linda-at-31 process that was going on at the same time I was beginning to identify the trauma and the individual pieces of me that it had created.  I tried to accomplish an exploration and solidification of self that should have automatically and naturally happened throughout my childhood and young adulthood years — and didn’t.

Every single step I took in my journey included some confrontation and encounter with my profound woundedness.  The 18 years of abuse I endured had affected — and infected — me so profoundly and pervasively that I could not find anything but a shell of Linda, packed full to overflowing with pain, confusion, and the defenses that had enabled me to survive.

By the time these journal entries end I had found my way to the only place, both internally and externally, possible for me to go to next:  Another treatment center.  This one was designed specifically to address both severe trauma and addiction.  I remained apart from both my husband and children, now 130 miles away, and walked through the next doorway of my trauma drama recovery story.  The steps that I took to get to this next doorway are described here:

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*Age 31 Journal – Sept. 1982 thru June 10, 1983

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EXCERPTS:

January 19, 1983

What do I see as my boundary problem with Leo?

My mother = my conscious

Her right and wrongs = mine

Leo’s rights and wrongs = my rights and wrongs

I use Leo:  the whole part of me that would love Linda isn’t there and Leo is that part of me that loves me

Doesn’t feel healthy

My mother is the part of Linda that hates Linda

Kathy [therapist] says:  “In some ways what you’re talking about is pretty profound.””

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January 26, 1983

Talked to the girls tonight about my moving out for awhile.  Kathy [therapist] says it should be for at least 6 weeks.”

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February 8, 1983 Tuesday 11 PM

Had class tonight on child abuse issues.  Sue told her story.  Makes me think about my unvisited “cave” where I’ve hidden all my childhood issues.  Wonder when I’ll get in there and poke around.”

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February 24, 1983

From notes on Rollo May talk, “Creativity as Significant Form

“Without anxiety = heightened sensitivity, there’s no creative person.”

“Creativity:  The divine madness.  The anxiety of being lost leads to creativity.”

“The pause is not nothing.  Listen to the silence.  Technology calls pauses depressions.  PAUSING – the kind of aloneness of a creative person.”

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March 4, 1983

Well, it’s 9:15 PM and at last I’m here in my room.  Made the move.

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March 13, 1983

(I’m losing tears again).”

I’m creating a safe place here for myself to be with myself, and, finally, cry.”

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March 22, 1983

I don’t want to die – I don’t want to be dead.  I want to live.”

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March 23, 1983

I feel angry tonight.  Very lonely, too.  In that lonely place nobody else can come to.  Maybe lonely for myself.”

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March 28, 1983

There’s a point where you go numb and you have to choose not to feel any more in order to survive.”

I used to think my mother was “just” an overly critical perfectionist.”

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April 2, 1983

7 PM – I’m in Glyndon now [visiting].  Leo and girls are at Larry and Echo’s.  The house is very neat and clean.  It’s my home, and yet I also feel like I don’t have a home.  Alienated – That’s how I feel.  From people, my family, pets, home, even my body and myself.  I feel sad, like I want to cry, but I can’t.”

I feel hopeless like I got made wrong and I can’t get fixed.  My body is healed of the childhood wounds, bruises; but inside I haven’t healed yet – I don’t even know if I’ve started yet.  I don’t have the option of getting high to forget this all like I used to.”

2009 note: I know now, finally, that I didn’t get made ‘wrong’, I got made different.  I could not have survived my abuse if I hadn’t adapted and adjusted in every possible way that I could.  Fortunately, our human species has that ability — to adapt in order to survive.  I also know now that I could not possibly re-make myself into the same kind of person I would have been if the abuse had never happened to me.

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June 9, 1983

There’s someone inside wanting to get out and not knowing how.”

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NEWS FROM:

Prevent Child Abuse New York Blog


Recent Surge in Recession RunawaysPosted: 30 Oct 2009 02:46 AM PDTThe intersection between the recession and family stress may be causing an increase in runaway kids and teens, according to a recent article in the New York Times.   Job loss, foreclosures, and poverty have added to the stresses at home which have been trickling down and effecting teens.  Reporter Ian Urbina recently spent time with teen runaways in Medford, Oregon.  He learned the desperate measures they take in order to survive everyday rather than return home.  Most runaways aren’t even reported missing by their guardians, and if they are reported to the local police, most times they don’t make it into the national database.  Without national recognition, it is very hard for police to identify and return these runaways.  Police claim that runaways are not a top priority because most of the time they do not want to be found or returned home.  Unfortunately of the 267 runaways reported nationwide 58 of them were found dead.  “These kids might as well be invisible if they aren’t in National crime information center (N.C.I.C.),” said Ernie Allen, the director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  While federal officials are expecting a rise in homelessness this year, most social programs aid homeless families, not unaccompanied youth.   At the same time, many financially troubled states have severely cut social services, leaving little to no help for homeless runaways.  This presents a significant challenge for society, as runaway children are more likely to become homeless adults who are forced to live a life of crime.For information please visit the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, The National Coalition for the Homeless, and The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

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I cannot pull any punches.  Surviving child abuse is a serious matter that needs to concern both those who endured it and those who were fortunate enough not to.

Child abuse should happen to no one.  Yet it does.  Those of us who survived it are doing the best that we can to understand the changes this abuse did to us during our development, to learn, to grow and heal.  We need to be vigilant about our well-being, proactive regarding the state of our health, and informed.

We suffer from continued difficult lives for as long as we live.  At the same time, our risk for developing serious adult ailments and perhaps to die young is connected to the extremely high price we had to pay to endure and remain alive.  Sticking our heads in the sand will not help us.  We are incredibly STRONG people or we would not be here!  We have the strength to face the facts and to find ways to continue to improve ourselves, our lives, and our chances for continued survival.

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It is easy to lose track of important information as time goes on that is posted in comments to writings on this blog.  One such piece of information came through today, and I think it warrants a repeat here:

Comment and reply posted to *THE ADVANTAGES OF DISCLOSURE

Comment submitted on 2009/10/30 at 1:54am

I never knew what I was experiencing was a disassociation from myself but now that I read what you wrote I go through exactly what you do. I like how you put this.
“While I have the benefit now of reorganizing and reorienting myself in relation to my brother based on our new level of connection, I have to experience aspects of this readjustment consciously in order for it to become a living useful integrated part of who I am.”

I always get in this stuck phase. Words for describing what Im going through just aren’t there. I feel like it’s because I learned from a very early age to program myself to shut off to the describing, and trying to put it into words because when I did I got hurt one way or another. So now that I am an adult I flounder. I have to work twice as hard and I fumble with thing actions, reactions that most normal adults are able to have within seconds without much thought and commit it to memory. Where as I have to actively think and then do and the evaluate and then try to commit it to memory.

Thank you for your blog

Reply submitted on 2009/10/30 at 9:58am

Hi there, and it makes me so happy to hear from you! After I had done my post yesterday about my journal, down at the bottom I went back and added something that was a (welcomed) revelation for me. For all the years of my recovery work I’ve heard people talk about how we have to learn how to feel — value of feelings, what they tell us, how to tolerate them, how to regulate them, how to learn from them. It’s true.

But yesterday was the first time it clicked with me that I never learned how to think!! My mother’s abuse interrupted me and my development every possible step of the way she could do it. Even though she could not say to me directly, “LINDA! STOP THINKING!” She really accomplished this.

This is a new realization or a new level of recovery for me to begin to understand this. Many times in my early recovery both therapists and AA people told me, “Linda, you use rationalization as a defense all of the time.” Nobody ever detected the underlying crisis of self that is connected to being smart and thinking. Nobody said to me, “By the way, Linda. Let’s look at the way you think. Let’s see where those thought patterns are connected in how your poor little growing baby brain learned to BE in a malevolent world of chaos and violence.”

We can always trust that our body, “itself” (it really IS US) remembers all our experiences and feelings because those memories are stored separately from the facts of our experience. How our left and right brain hemispheres develop and how they communicate with one another is MAJORLY affected in our early development from severe early child abuse. That means we are NOT the same as other ‘ordinary’ people are. Once we understand this, it’s a whole new world to explore, examine and learn about as we come to NAME HOW we are in the world which affects WHO we are in the world.

We cannot take for granted what ‘ordinary’ safe and secure, or even organized insecurely attached people can. We have to become far more conscious and aware. I take for granted that I have arms and hands, for example, and that I can use them and control what they do in ‘ordinary’ ways. I don’t have to consciously think about this. I just DO ordinary things with them.

Not so with the way my brain developed through abuse. So many things that psychology has simply stuck in the ‘defense’ category do not belong there. Thinking involves words, but how to connect our thinking both to our body-feelings and to our words becomes a task we can learn to practice with discipline as we try to train or retrain our brain-body-mind-self connections!

How can a growing little child ever find words when what they experience is beyond reason?

It is helping me to affirm who I am by realizing that what happened to me is shared by most people who were severely abused and neglected as children, especially to those whose mothers were ‘damaged’. It helps me to know the changes that happened to us as we grew and developed were not willy-nilly. The adaptations and adjustments our body-brain-mind-self had to make so we could survive DO follow patterns. It’s just that only now with new brain imaging techniques and new infant-child development research we are beginning to realize that we are evolutionarily altered beings. On a most profound level that is something for us to celebrate! That is a testimony to the miracle of resiliency that our species has ALWAYS had so that we could outlive at least 19 other hominid species throughout all the millions of years we have been developing — and surviving — as a species.

Having an identifiable ’self’, I believe, was a later evolutionary gift to our species that came after our life on this planet was no longer as terribly malevolent and dangerous as it was in our beginnings. We had grown enough to find ways to survive under threat, and the actual conditions of our environment eventually improved. But a tiny fetus and newborn, a little child, born into a world that is toxic and threatening still has the ancient genetic memory of how to grow a body and brain that allows it to continue to survive intolerable conditions. That those of us who were born into a bad-mothering world (especially and primarily) really are a testament to the amazing survival abilities of our species.

But the world we grow up into is filled with other people whose early lives were not all that bad, and they were able to grow and develop ‘ordinarily’ in contrast to us. It becomes, pardon the expression, like the Clash of the Titans. Only it is not supposed to be a conflict between survivors and those whose survival early on was not challenged. We just have to LEARN, and humans are very good at that. That’s why the name of our species is The Wise Ones! By golly, we are on the way.

Exactly what you are describing in your comment is how this process works for us. Think about how humans only ‘got’ verbal language ONLY 140,000 years ago. When we realize how LATE that was in our development, we realize we have vast storehouses of abilities to survive and to live BESIDES words. THOSE abilities are what kept us alive. Those abilities kept our species alive. There’s incredible powers in those non-verbal abilities. We can learn about the word part! In a way, words are frosting on the cake of life — yes, essential to who we are now in our more ‘ordinary’ world. But as I write this I realize they are not as essential to our survival as all our other abilities are (that we used or we wouldn’t be here).

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I hate to have to say this, but reality IS reality.  I was thrilled – even though it is a strange thing to say, and I WISH (a part of denial, magical childhood thinking reality state) it were not so – to see yesterday’s news about research that is confirming the long term, life span consequences for an individual who has survived intolerable severe child abuse.  The research is catching up with reality.

Our survival comes with an extremely high price tag.  Survival to the child bearing years is what nature has allowed us to do.  That we survive PAST that age, as I have said before, is due to the more benevolent conditions of the world we grow up and survive into.  The cost of the adaptations and adjustments our body-brain-mind-self had to make to keep us alive DOES show up in the costly consequences of serious illnesses and premature death.

Nature does not see our early death as being unusual.  It is simply the cost of surviving in a dangerous and malevolent world.  We have to realize the facts so that we can acknowledge risk and take precautions wherever possible to alter the natural course of our continued survival in our altered and adjusted bodies.  For example, if anyone had ever told me that surviving the distress and trauma of a severely abusive childhood put me at extremely high risk for cancer, I would have made certain I had mammograms early – or at all.

That I ended up with advanced, aggressive breast cancer (in fact, two different cancers in the same breast) does not surprise me now that I understand the risks and the price my body paid for surviving my incredibly terrible childhood with my parents.  This is why I continue to work as hard as I can on this blog.  I suffer under no delusions that I have now been granted anything more than a temporary reprieve from the cancers I have been treated for and that now seem to be ‘not present’ in my body at this time.  Whatever it is that I may have learned from surviving 18 years of terrible child abuse — and what might be of use to someone else —  I better say while I am still here to say it.

Whatever happens to me down the road of my life, and whenever it happens to me, this blog will remain as my legacy in the hopes that what I have learned from my suffering will be able to help those who also suffer to live a better life.

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I did not fit the ‘ordinary’ breast cancer risk factor profile.  Add in the severe child abuse history, and I was on the top of the list.  Should this make us terribly sad that we continue to pay the price for the abuse we suffered for the rest of our – perhaps very short – lives!  YES!  Sad and enraged, not only as the victim-survivors, but as members of a civilization that continues to allow severe child abuse and neglect to occur.

I posted this yesterday, but as this is a repeat-of-information post, I’ll post it again (comes to us from the Prevent Child Abuse New York Blog:

Traumatic Childhood Can Reduce Life Expectancy

A difficult childhood reduces life expectancy by up to 20 years according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study found that participants who were exposed to more then five different types of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) were over 50 percent more likely to die during the 10-year period of the study. On the other hand, people who reported fewer than six ACEs did not have a statistically increased risk of death compared with the control group.

Listen to a podcast Adversce Childhood Experiences and the Risk of Premature Mortality.

To explore the effect that childhood trauma could have on life span, Kaiser Permanente mailed questionnaires to adults who were 18 years and older, and who had visited the Kaiser clinic in San Diego from 1995 to 1997. Overall, the study subjects were middle-class and had good health coverage. Of those surveyed, 75 percent were white, 11 percent Latino, 7 percent Asian, and 5 percent African-American. They’re educated: 75 percent attended college and 40 percent have a basic or higher college education. When they filled out the questionnaire, their average age was 57. Most of them had jobs. Half were women, half were men.

The participants were asked about their exposure to eight categories of abuse or dysfunction based on previous Kaiser studies. One third of the 17,337 participants who replied to the questionnaires had an ACE score of zero, meaning they had not been exposed to any of the eight types of abuse or household dysfunction. The majority of the remaining responders registered a score of between one and four, whereas about 8 percent of the scoring participants were rated five, and roughly three percent, six to eight.

During the next decade, the study authors, kept records of which of the 17,337 participants passed away by matching identifying information such as Social Security numbers from the questionnaire with data from the National Death Index. In total 1,539 of the participants died during the follow-up period. When the increased number of deaths in those subjects with an ACE score of six or greater was compared with the control group, their mortality risk was 1.5 times higher than for people whose childhoods had been free of all eight types of abuse. They lost about 20 years from their lives, living to 60.6 years on average, whereas the average age of death for the control group was 79.1.

It is unclear why the authors saw more death ages during the 10-year period only for the group with an ACE score of six or greater. Previous studies by these authors found that the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, lung disease and cancer, was greater only for people with these high ACE scores. In contrast, the risk of substance abuse and suicide increased stepwise from low to high scores. The authors found that ACE-related health risks, namely mental illness, social problems and prescription medication use, accounted for about 30 percent of the 50 percent greater risk of death seen in this population. “As would be expected, the documented ACE-related conditions among participants appear to account for some, although not all, of the increased risk of premature death observed in the current study,” wrote David Brown, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and lead author of the study.

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

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*Age 58 – Artwork October 29, 2009

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I could wonder if my spontaneous, quick art work images will ever come out innocuous instead of intense and unsettling, but then I would be contradicting myself.  When I write about not believing images come from any invisible ‘inner child’, I am at the same time very aware of how people could interpret this kind of creative process I am doing as being related to having an experience with such an invisible entity.

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From today's artwork link - Borderline Mother

What I know about how my child abuse altered brain operates helps me to understand my artistic process in a different way.  Particularly because my Borderline mother’s abuse of me began when I was born, neither of the hemispheres of my brain nor the way they operate together developed in an ‘ordinary’ way.  All of us have access to an unending storehouse of images.  The biggest problem is trying to get around our left brain’s inner critic, as  Betty Edwards describes in her excellent books about drawing.

Perhaps because of the affects my early abuse had on my developing brain, I have an almost literal switch I can flip, or a door I can simply open, that turns my left brain critic off and allows my creativity to escape.  I don’t believe my left and right brain hemispheres ever developed an ‘ordinary’ working partnership with one another, so I-Linda am learning that I can tell them what to do.  I can tell my left brain to just get out of the way, making an art image is not its concern.

There is no reason for any of us to worry about how we make our images, what they contain, or even what they look like.  To me, the important part of the process is simply to trust ourselves with the process of creating a representation of any image our right brain passes ‘out’ to us.  As humans, we have a clear inner sense of imagery.  What I really suspect is going on is that, as Alice Miller considers in her book I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Pictures of a Childhood: Sixty-Six Watercolors and an Essay, is that being an adult in our ‘modern culture’ makes us afraid of the image making process because we are afraid of what we will see.

Images cannot hurt us.  Giving them tangible visibility will not hurt us.  Most likely we will be helped, not harmed.  If we ‘give birth’ to an image that is intense or unsettling, all we have to do is put it away somewhere and keep it for as long as it takes for us to be able to be able to tolerate our own images so that we can witness our own expression.

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Every image has something powerful to say.  Because we are often raised, particularly those of us with severe child abuse histories, unable to stand in our own power as individual selves, it is often the experience of the power of creating itself that feels frightening to us.  Making art is a personal-power-enhancing process that belongs to all of us.  It is very simple.  We simply have to give ourselves permission and that whole world of making art is ours.

I am working with dollar store art supplies.  I use larger 5″ by 8″ index cards.  These ones happened to be included in a metal file box designed for that sized card I bought at the thrift store to save my childhood-related photographs in once they have been scanned and posted.  I like that size, though any size will do.  One advantage of choosing a size to begin an art image exploration series is that the limitation of size becomes a freeing factor because it does not need to be renegotiated as a choice every time a person begins to work.  I also have glue and colored paper, cheap paint, markers and crayons.  I am wishing for some oil pastels, but I don’t have any and that lack is NOT going to stop me.

I am, of course, encouraging every single one of my readers to get themselves some basic art materials and something to put them on, and go to work playing with their own image making process.  You will be amazed at the process and the results.  Show your images, keep them, hide them, post them.  One thing I strongly recommend is that on the back of whatever you make, always put the full date and the sequence number of the piece for the date you make them.  I can — and probably will at some point — explain why this matters.

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If I wanted to ‘work with’ my own images as an art therapist, I would have my work cut out for me.  They seem simple, they produce themselves quickly, but each one holds a universe all its own of ‘in-form-ation’.  I’m not at all concerned with that right now.  I only want to make them as a part of my commitment to myself to allow my self to ‘speak’.  I am eager to discover what this process has to teach me — both the process of making and the art images themselves.

But I do not wish to fly too close to the sun.  I have no intention of overwhelming myself by being too brazen about ‘digging out the truth’.  Whatever I do or don’t do, the truth already exists.  I simply need to get strong enough to visit it.

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Don’t miss this

Traumatic Childhood Can Reduce Life Expectancy

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I was feeling better in this section of my journal that ends on my ‘Golden Birthday’ of turning 31 on the 31st of August, 1982.  I was beginning to take form as a person, becoming less hollow and less like a ghost-girl in my own life.

I think the successful definite steps forward I had made by working through some very difficult school work bolstered me.  My feet might have still been mired in the unknown of my past, my ‘true self’ was still missing in action, but the woman I was becoming had begun to find some sunshine for herself.  The vigorous exercise workout I was doing made me physically strong and began to anchor me into my body.  I was gaining a sense of self-confidence for the first time in my life.

I now had nearly two years ‘clean and sober’ (from nonprescription drugs), had a sponsor and faithfully attended at least one AA meeting every week.  I also attended a weekly woman’s growth and support group through the local mental health center.

Part of my transformation was coming through my ‘discovery’ of so-called ‘feminism’ as I began to understand that women experience their lives very differently than men do.  I believe I was for the first time beginning to collect for myself a sense of my own personal empowerment.

*Age 30 – Journal from May 1982 through August 1982

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May 22, 1982

Things OK in the water bed – Leo is keeping to himself.  I think he’s afraid to touch me – sometimes I’d like to be touched; not sexually — just touched.

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We could not get anything larger than a double bed up our little stairs, so the king size water bed was the only solution we could think of.  Well……

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I knew inside on some level there was something ‘wrong’.  I really knew.   I found this in one of my little poems on this date —

Do I have a personality

When there’s no one here but me?

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June 9, 1982

Perhaps calcium now

Will help calm me down

But I don’t feel like myself

My spirit feels larger

Than my body

Like a wad of bread dough

Or play dough

Yellow

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June 16, 1982

Decided I may try writing an autobiography –

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I record a 2009 note with this journal entry about two statements made, on two occasions by two different people — that changed the course of my life — because I heard them and I knew they were true.

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June 26, 1982

Been cleaning – sorting clothes in closets and dressers all day.  Felt real depressed yesterday – [Doctor] decided to up the Imipramine to the 150 mg.  I was taken off of Desipramine – slow the thoughts down – don’t handle being alone very well.

I could not handle letting my own inner reality surface — not yet, anyway.  I can sense my insecure attachment disorder here, like an invisible electric current running inside a live wire.

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July 2, 1982

I’m feeling my wild feeling, and walked down the “trail” to an old grain wagon parked in the grasses.  The sun is still above the horizon, and it is hot.  Clouds below the sun will soon swallow it.

Wind is rustling the trees, and I am reminded of the homestead – the trees on the mountainside and the river on the valley floor.

I’d like to be that wind – free – from thought.

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Oceans lie where we can always find them.  Why can’t I?

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And as I write, capturing time,

I can reread, and see my past

In my present.

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August 3, 1982

Now

I’m a spider

Expertly spinning

My thoughts

Into miraculous

Flowing webs

When I’m depressed

I’m a fly

Tangled

Frightened

Captured

By these same

Silken

Threads

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I just had a 2009 thought as I read this.  I wasn’t only unaware of HOW to feel, I did not know HOW to think, either (not about anything personal).  I did not grow up in my insanely abusive childhood being able to think.  ‘Ordinary’ childhoods, without a need for continual and nearly constant dissociation, no doubt allow children to grow up THINKING, and to grow into their thoughts.  I never had that opportunity to get familiar with my own thoughts, to practice being a person WITH thoughts.  No wonder ‘thinking’ felt so foreign, uncomfortable and dangerous to me!

(Also glad to see at least I was still doing some spinning and weaving at this time.)

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AND A GIFT OF INFORMATION FROM:

Prevent Child Abuse New York Blog

 


Making Kids a Priority

 

Posted: 29 Oct 2009 10:57 AM PDT

Guest post by Michelle Gross, Project/Public Policy Manager, Prevent Child Abuse New York

In this recession, working families are struggling to meet their children’s basic needs. Five out of six children in low-income families have at least one adult who works.   These families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, and gas in the car so they can get to work. The stress of these difficult financial times takes the heaviest toll on at-risk families. More than ever before, programs that support families, like home visiting, parenting education, family resource centers, fatherhood and kinship support, and child advocacy centers play a pivotal role in ensuring a stable and more prosperous future.

Yet, these services continue to be in danger of funding cuts. New York’s families’ health and well-being rests on the voices of advocates like you.  As we prepare for the New York State Budget proposal for 2010-11, we must be vigilant in continuing to contact our state government representatives, from the governor to the legislature, and even locally. Regularly updating your elected officials on your program’s successes helps to reinforce the important role it plays in supporting families. Every voice counts, and it is up to us to speak for those who cannot. It can be daunting to contact your representative, but your advocacy can make the difference between a program funding cut and a program funding expansion. Here are a few tips on calling your elected official’s office:

  • When calling, you will likely reach a staff member rather than your representative directly. Staff             members can be just as influential as the legislator themselves.
  • Be sure to tell the staff member your name and where you live. It’s important that they know you are a constituent.
  • Inform the staffer of the reason for your call. It can  be as simple as saying that you’d like to make sure the program does not get cut in the state budget.
  • Tell the staffer why the program is important and what difference it has made in your life or the lives of those around you.
  • Thank the staffer for their time and ask for a follow  up if you feel its necessary.
  • Always follow up a phone call with a letter restating your call.
  • Call again in a month just to check in, and ask others to call on behalf of the program. Persistence is key in advocacy!

Again, remember that what you have to say matters. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Children’s needs, long overlooked, should receive the highest priority during critical discussions leading to cuts in the New York State Budget. Far too few services are available at a time when demand is increasing greatly. We encourage our legislators to support programs that work, and to support families through this fiscal crisis.

For more information about Prevent Chils Abuse New York’s Advocacy Programs, please visit our website: http://preventchildabuseny.org/advocacy.shtml

Traumatic Childhood Can Reduce Life Expectancy

 

Posted: 29 Oct 2009 08:27 AM PDT

A difficult childhood reduces life expectancy by up to 20 years according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study found that participants who were exposed to more then five different types of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) were over 50 percent more likely to die during the 10-year period of the study. On the other hand, people who reported fewer than six ACEs did not have a statistically increased risk of death compared with the control group.

Listen to a podcast Adversce Childhood Experiences and the Risk of Premature Mortality.

To explore the effect that childhood trauma could have on life span, Kaiser Permanente mailed questionnaires to adults who were 18 years and older, and who had visited the Kaiser clinic in San Diego from 1995 to 1997. Overall, the study subjects were middle-class and had good health coverage. Of those surveyed, 75 percent were white, 11 percent Latino, 7 percent Asian, and 5 percent African-American. They’re educated: 75 percent attended college and 40 percent have a basic or higher college education. When they filled out the questionnaire, their average age was 57. Most of them had jobs. Half were women, half were men.

The participants were asked about their exposure to eight categories of abuse or dysfunction based on previous Kaiser studies. One third of the 17,337 participants who replied to the questionnaires had an ACE score of zero, meaning they had not been exposed to any of the eight types of abuse or household dysfunction. The majority of the remaining responders registered a score of between one and four, whereas about 8 percent of the scoring participants were rated five, and roughly three percent, six to eight.

During the next decade, the study authors, kept records of which of the 17,337 participants passed away by matching identifying information such as Social Security numbers from the questionnaire with data from the National Death Index. In total 1,539 of the participants died during the follow-up period. When the increased number of deaths in those subjects with an ACE score of six or greater was compared with the control group, their mortality risk was 1.5 times higher than for people whose childhoods had been free of all eight types of abuse. They lost about 20 years from their lives, living to 60.6 years on average, whereas the average age of death for the control group was 79.1.

It is unclear why the authors saw more death ages during the 10-year period only for the group with an ACE score of six or greater. Previous studies by these authors found that the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, lung disease and cancer, was greater only for people with these high ACE scores. In contrast, the risk of substance abuse and suicide increased stepwise from low to high scores. The authors found that ACE-related health risks, namely mental illness, social problems and prescription medication use, accounted for about 30 percent of the 50 percent greater risk of death seen in this population. “As would be expected, the documented ACE-related conditions among participants appear to account for some, although not all, of the increased risk of premature death observed in the current study,” wrote David Brown, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and lead author of the study.

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

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I went ‘Missing In Action’ in the combat zone of my childhood with my severe Borderline mother from the moment I was born.  That I was still MIA at age 30 should not surprise me as I continue  my forensic autobiographical search for whatever happened to the self of Linda — even half my lifetime ago:

*Age 30 – Journal from January 1982 through April 1982

Here are a few snippets from the journal:

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January 19, 1982

I was never socialized or given any experience as I grew up in getting along in this “real world.”  I was practiced in being extremely obedient, being isolated.”

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2009:  For most of my life all I was able to do in any of my thinking regarding the reality of the abuse in my 18 years of childhood was to make observations as if I was a mechanical reporter, as per the above.  I never understood the implications or the ramifications.  We take for granted that we are supposed to KNOW things even though nobody ever TOLD us.  I completely lacked any basis for comparing my life to an ‘ordinary’ childhood, even when I was 30 years old.

I’ve always had a sort of “vacancy” feeling.  Nothing about my childhood connected to anything in this “real world.”  It was as if I was hatched out of an egg the day I landed at boot camp at 18.  There was nothing to do with or about what had happened to me before that time.  Everyone was busy with their own lives, lived in their realities, and did not care about one person who appeared in their lives — at any time — that person being me with my past history that nobody cared about, either.  I was either going to ‘make it’ on my own, or not at all, just as it had been in my childhood.

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January 26, 1982

“Received a beautiful cream sweater and a blue skirt from Mom today.  It feels good that she loves me and I need to write thanks and love.

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2009:  Classic example of my continued delusions about being the daughter of the mother who tormented and abused me for 18 years.  Except for very limited in-school contacts, my childhood consisted of fear, abuse and dissociation.  My internal state was a void, a vacuum.  I lived the days of my life no differently than an android would.  Once I went through treatment and stopped self-medicating myself with pot, the medication was simply switched to prescription antidepressants.  The same purpose was served.  “Zombie juiced.”  Just keep Linda doing what Linda does because she knows nothing different.

My life could have been far worse.  I was safe.  I lived with a reasonable, kind man.  The people in my life were reasonable.  I thought what I was doing was reasonable.  I tried to parent my daughters the best that I could, and certainly I did not abuse them.  But how can an empty hollow shell of a person be a ‘good enough’ parent to children?  I can only believe that with kindness and the best love I could give them, the life force and personality of my children carried them forward as they grew up — but perhaps more like growing plants would than children who lacked a securely-attached mother.

This is where professionals coin the term “earned secure attachment.”  But I KNOW it wasn’t as good as the ‘real thing’.  How could it be, to be raised by a mother who does not have her self intact?

Yet I can see that with my disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder I was able to organize and orient myself around a life as portrayed in my journals.  But it was a hollow life.  I was a hollow person.  I did not know what questions to ask anybody about what was ‘wrong’ with me, and nobody offered me the information I needed to understand what was REALLY going on with lost-soul Linda.

How I could I know that what I DO is not who I AM?  Now I would see that what I do is like a reflection of who I am, like light rays from the sun are reflected in a mirror.  I had no sun, no self — not that I knew or knew of, anyway.  Today I’m not sure I’m much better – but I do know the difference.  I can FEEL it, especially now that my children are gone from home.

Humans are not designed to organize and orient themselves around external factors of any kind.  We can, of course, organize and orient how we spend our TIME around external factors, but not our SELF!  Without a clear, strong, healthy sense of a non-dissociated self, I have been left all my life with a nearly unbearable sadness at my center.  That sadness is what the doctor was medicating with those antidepressants, and that I used to medicate with nonprescription drugs.

Is there another way for those of us who have such histories of terrible abuse of one kind or another to MEET, GREET and FEEL our true inner self — a process that is supposed to be firmly in place before we are two years old?

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April 6, 1982

I don’t question myself all the time anymore on what I’m doing and am much better at getting through days and doing what needs to be done and what I want to do.

I’ll have to watch this as meds change and be sure it’s not something that is really affected by the depression.

My head feels clear and I like that.”

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The doctor was decreasing my antidepressants, and that concerned me.  He was talking about taking me off them completely by summer for a ‘drug holiday’.

Why did I believe that questioning “myself all the time…on what I’m doing” was a BAD thing?  I had a lot of questioning that needed to be done — a life time of questioning!!  Did I need stasis or did I need to make real and legitimate changes in my life?  Nobody supported me in asking the questions, or in trying to discover who I was or what I needed.  People did support me when I was ‘nice’ and did not rock the proverbial boat.

Obviously, I believed that I liked myself better that way — why would I want to FEEL FEELINGS and learn the truth about myself?  Yet, there was a Linda in there somewhere, hiding in the shadows of my life, who needed to peek herself out and begin to ask questions about her self in the world.  I needed answers.  It has taken me a very long time to begin to get some.

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April 21, 1982

I found a poem-story of my daughter’s father and her birth written on this date here in this journal.  I wonder what I meant by

I had a child to catch

my man

I sure don’t remember that being the case at the time!  It’s a whole story I have yet to tell, the story of being pregnant and giving birth and what followed.  But this poem is an introduction.

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I do not wish to leave the information contained in these links behind as I continue with my posting.  Please consider them for your study:

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In the words of Alice Miller

— Articulating the child’s authentic voice —

from

Pictures of a Childhood: Sixty-Six Watercolors and an Essay by Alice Miller

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“Only when I make room for the voice of the child within me do I feel myself to be truly genuine and creative.  I use every means now at my disposal…to help this child to find the appropriate way of expressing herself and to be understood.”  (Page 17)

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“Those who take a stand in today’s world on behalf of workers, women, or even mistreated animals will find a group to represent them, but someone who becomes a strong advocate for the child and opposes the lies society has tolerated in the guise of child-rearing practices will stand alone.  This situation is difficult to understand, especially when we consider that we were once all children ourselves.  I can explain it only by suggesting that unequivocal advocacy of the child represents a threat to most adults.  For when it becomes possible for children to speak out and confront us with their experiences, which were once ours as well, we become painfully aware of the loss of our own powers of perception, our sensibilities, feelings, and memories.  Only if the child is forced to be silent are we able to deny our pain, and we can again believe what we were told a children:  that it was necessary, valuable, and right for us to make the emotional sacrifices demanded of us in the name of traditional child-rearing.  As a consequence of the adult’s arrogant attitude toward the child’s feelings, the child is trained to be accommodating, but his or her true voice is silenced.  Another arrogant and blind adult is the result.

Is it not senseless, then, to let children speak, to help them to become articulate in an arrogant adult world as long as there is so little hope of their being listened to by adults and when the danger exists that their authentic voice will be silenced as soon as it it heard?  I do not believe it is senseless; it is essential to let their voices, the voices of those who have been afflicted by silence, speak if we hope to prevent the total disappearance of the springs of knowledge and creativity concealed in every childhood.  In this regard, the published reports by former victims of child abuse will be particularly beneficial in exposing the distortion of the truth so widespread in many areas of our life.”  (pages 18-19)

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JUST FOR FUN – LISTEN HERE

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In my own words:

Blasphemy!  I do not have a “child within me.”  There is only ME within ME.  I am today totally the full sum of every experience I have ever had.  The memory I have of them, consciously or not, and the impact they had on me are all contained within this body that is ME — right here, right now.

Because I have suffered from dissociation since I was born into a malevolent world of abuse, chaos and madness, I cannot afford to pretend there are any more stray parts of me floating around ‘somewhere’ than there already — legitimately — are.  And there certainly isn’t ‘one in there’ I would ever care to name ‘the child within me’.  How silly is that idea?

I believe we do ourselves a great disservice in suggesting that we have some ‘alien’ life force or form within us that we might even begin to think about as our ‘child within’.  We have all integrated our experiences since conception into our bodies, including our brain.  What is the purpose of denying this fact?

If cohesiveness and coherency are the goal that any of us with less than an optimal safe and secure infancy-childhood might be aiming toward, what good does it do us to pretend that some magical, mysterious part of us is supposedly missing from the action of our living, breathing body at exactly this present moment in time?

Not only does the concept of an ‘inner child’ or a ‘child within’ feel demeaning, disrespectful and dishonoring of who I AM as a person no matter what hell I have survived in my lifetime, it also seems blatantly ridiculous.  It’s just too Twilight Zonish for me.  It’s too Alice in Wonderlandish, too Through the Looking Glass weird to me.  I spent the first 18 years of my life in the Twilight Zone.  I don’t need another split second of it now.  No way.

Let those with the luxury to afford to buy this myth — well, buy it.  Not gonna be me….  I work hard to give myself permission to be the whole of who I am, the one who has followed THIS life path from the moment of my conception to this instant in time — there is no possible way I left any part of myself behind, and I know it.  I am.  I am, most grandly, wholly ME — even if the whole of me exists as a thousand dissociated parts, they are MY ADULT parts.

The great thing is to find moments I can actually have fun being ALL OF ME!

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*Age 58 – October 28, 2009 – Dollar store paint, crayon and marker images

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Here’s a link to a couple of ‘feel good’ tips that caught my eye!  It’s a cool and very wet and gray day here today after last night’s wind.  Excellent to have the moisture, but we desert rats always miss the sunshine!  Thought these ideas might help….

HIT YOUR ZOOM BUTTON TO SEE THESE BETTER!

**Happy Tips and “Take A Breather”

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*Age 21 – Photograph of Me in 1973

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I question the whole 12-step requirement for ‘acceptance.’  I think we can accept ourselves into terribly destructive and unhappy situations, while we all the time blame ourselves if we DARE to whimper or question our lives.  In 1981 the antidepressants I was given (and took) just further erased Linda from the scene of my life.  I was quiet, complacent, and busy trying so hard to BE good and to DO good…..

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I have to say, never in the 10 years I’ve lived down here in the Arizona high desert right on the Mexico line have I ever heard such furious wind gusts as are appearing and disappearing around here tonight.  They come barreling through like they are on rails, intent on taking the house roof with them, and then they are — GONE — and an eerie silence fills my ears.  No big deal, I’m sure.  The power hasn’t even flickered.  I am SO GLAD I no longer live up north with those winters — like my kids in Fargo do!  In 1981 I just accepted living in a place with harsh and long winters — not any more!

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I had just turned 30 when this part of my journals were written in 1981-1982.  I post the writings here just in case there’s something from my “recovery” past that might be of use to someone going through the new stages — or even the later ones — of their own recovery.  There’s nothing spectacular here.  Just one woman, still young, living a humble life, trying to grow, always hoping…..but was I really even there?

My antidepressants have kicked in by this time, and I am zoning along doing what I (and everybody around me) thinks is best.  It really didn’t matter if I was REALLY there in the show or not!  Nobody, myself included, knew the difference.

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*Age 30 Journal – Sept. through Dec. 1981

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Excerpts:

September 7, 1981

Got in touch with a lot of pain and loneliness and realized on a deep level for the first time that is what my “wild” feeling is.”

I used to think about this feeling when it came over me as being like the wind — only a wind that blew right through the outline-shape of who I was in my body.  I knew I had felt it in Alaska, most remembered in the wilderness — hence my name for it, my “wild” feeling.

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Recovery in families often begins with one single person.  In my case, following my entry and completion of treatment both my husband and his cousin both began recovery for alcoholism.

In that process I entered treatment again out-patient as the spouse of Leo when he began his treatment.  Minnesota treatment models for addiction focus on it being a “family disease.”

I noted on October 1, 1981:

Afraid to look at myself.  I am self-centered to the max and would control everyone around me if I could and yet Lief [therapist] said tonight a lot of anger comes from me not being willing to take the risks I need to get my needs met.  I’m not sure I even know what my needs are.  Everything seems complicated – feels confusing.”

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October 24, 1981

Oh, and then there were the sex problems……never a good sign!

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November 17, 1981

Sometimes I feel as though I were haunted by things from my past.  Not as many as before, but just a general feeling like the “real me” is not all here.  Maybe it is the “real me” that haunts me, or the “ideal me” that will never be.”

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November 19, 1981

Spent an hour reading to the girls tonight and read old Raggedy Ann book from Mom’s and my childhood.  Also Kay saw film about menstruation in school today.  She felt good and so did I that she can talk with me.  She said she used to think her mom was mean because I wouldn’t let her go to the store, etc. but now she sees we can talk where many of her friends can’t talk to their moms.  Thank you God for helping and healing.

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I do not wish to leave the information contained in these links behind as I continue with my posting.  Please consider them for your study:

Read Full Post »

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Well, I had to cook up something entirely different today.  I found yesterday that going back to my age 29 journal was an incredibly difficult and painful experience.  There is nothing easy about any part of my life thanks to the treatment I received at the hands (and mouth) of my psychotic severe Borderline Personality Disordered mother.  So how do I live with, process, understand and begin to heal the powerful, intense and nearly overwhelming emotions I experience — frequently — as a consequence of my childhood?

My emotions reached the ‘Red High Alert’ stage yesterday.  I knew I had to find some way to ‘self sooth’ them down as many notches as I possibly could.  That meant I had to reach for some external resource for help, but which one?

I found and played a tape recording of an astrological reading I had done for me last March of 2009 specifically about the difficulties I have with my emotions by a man I consider to be a blessed and extremely talented and knowledgeable astrologer:  Zane (see Zane’s Page).

I learned a long time ago that because of the severity and extent of the child abuse I suffered, which began at my birth and lasted until I left home at 18, I have to consider and access the best of the best help I can find — anywhere I can find it — in order to live with and try to heal from the consequences of that torture.  Astrology is one of those avenues of assistance I have turned to in some of the toughest times of my adult life.

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I believe it takes a full lifetime of study coupled with incredible efforts at self-healing, and a whole lot of gifted talent for any individual to truly practice astrology.  I barely know enough personally to begin to understand the influences that the natural world exercise over me in this lifetime so that I can begin to gain assistance and insight from the best astrologers I can find.

Some people find it helpful to have ‘daily’ sorts of readings through which certain influences on their lives are made more clear as their lifetime progresses.  I am not interested in accessing that kind of astrological information.  I simply need to know what forces operated at my birth, throughout my childhood, and continue to operate during this very difficult lifetime I seem to have found myself in.  Zane is the most skilled and qualified astrologer I have ever found.

The internet provides a wealth of information about the basics of astrology.  There are websites that provide a free natal chart.  As with any search on the web, consumers need to pay careful attention to the information they obtain, but time spent considering the topic is, I believe, time well spent.  If you choose to consult with Zane at Zane’s Page, you can email him with specific questions or to set an appointment with him should you choose to purchase one of his readings.

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It is not my intention to either explain or defend astrology in this post.  Today I simply transcribed the reading I had with Zane last March.  I find the information helpful to me, and where I have differences of opinion with Zane, I note them within the text.

If you are interested, please follow this link to the whole report text:

*Age 57 – March 2009 (whole text) Astrological Reading About My Emotions

Transcribed from tape of telephone consultation

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Or refer to individual sections of the reading here:

MY EMOTIONS

MY DIFFERENT KIND OF LOGIC

MY FEELING DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PEOPLE

MY MARS AND JUPITER:  BEING A TEACHER

POTENTIAL AND PSYCHOLOGY

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

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Sometimes we can go back and pick up the pieces of ourselves we left behind back somewhere in our lives.  In my journal entries right before my 30th birthday I can see one of those clear threads — and threads is an appropriate word!   As a child of a severely abusive Borderline mother, I have found myself a clue about who I am from my own writings half a lifetime ago……

I used to spin and weave back then.  I love it, but I made a decision to pack it all up and walk away.  Today I realized I want very badly to let that part of ME back into my life — and 29 years later I am going to find a way to do it.  I deserve it.

People who do not have to become dissociated from their own self through severe child abuse have, in my thinking, a chance to build a life that reflects who they truly are.  Those of us who were so severely abused that our selves never got to grow in the first place, can have an unbelievably difficult time living a life that is connected to our SELF.  Weaving and spinning was directly connected to ME, and I know that because, even looking back ‘then’, I can FEEL it.

How is it for others who have come from childhoods similar to mine?  Do we all need to pay very close attention on a physical, feeling level to those little clues we might come across that let us know which things in our life truly matter to us?  I tried to ‘reason’ my way through life.  From the time I went into ‘recovery’ onward I have worked to understand that my feelings not only matter, they are critical to letting me know WHO I am.

It can be hard to give ourselves permission to follow up on those clues.  If others are at all like me, I created a whole life of responsibility without knowing who the person was (ME) that was actually creating that life.  It was like I was living in a dream life I had built the best I knew how to, but it was not a healthy one for ME, and it was not built from the center of who I am because I had no idea who I was.  Does that make any sense to anyone out there?

*Age 29 – Journal Entries – Trying to Orient and Organize A Lost Self

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Try this for fun:

Myer Briggs personality type

http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp

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Borderline Personality Disorder

“…[they] often engage in destructive behaviors not because they intend to hurt you, but because their suffering is so intense they feel they have no other way to survive.”

In the Spotlight | More Topics |
from Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD
I’ve gotten quite a few questions about the connection between lying and BPD. Lying is not one of the symptom criteria for BPD, but loved ones report that they see a connection between lying and BPD and that this is one of the most difficult behaviors to deal with.
In the Spotlight
Lying and BPD – Is There a Connection?
There isn’t a lot of good research on a possible connection between BPD and lying. However, the fact that BPD is associated with shame and impulsivity may set you up for a tendency to tell lies.
More Topics
Readers Respond: Do You Tell Lies?
This is probably a silly question, because of course everyone lies sometimes. But do you find you tell lies more than other people? What triggers your lying? What do you lie about? Do you agree that there is a connection between BPD and lying, or do you think this is just part of the stigma of BPD?
Will I Have BPD Forever?
At one time, experts did believe that BPD was a life sentence; they thought that BPD was not likely to respond to treatment and that BPD was always chronic and lifelong. Turns out the experts were wrong!

About.com

Borderline Personality Disorder

In the Spotlight | More Topics |

from Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD
I’ve gotten quite a few questions about the connection between lying and BPD. Lying is not one of the symptom criteria for BPD, but loved ones report that they see a connection between lying and BPD and that this is one of the most difficult behaviors to deal with.

In the Spotlight

Lying and BPD – Is There a Connection?
There isn’t a lot of good research on a possible connection between BPD and lying. However, the fact that BPD is associated with shame and impulsivity may set you up for a tendency to tell lies.

More Topics

Readers Respond: Do You Tell Lies?
This is probably a silly question, because of course everyone lies sometimes. But do you find you tell lies more than other people? What triggers your lying? What do you lie about? Do you agree that there is a connection between BPD and lying, or do you think this is just part of the stigma of BPD?

Will I Have BPD Forever?
At one time, experts did believe that BPD was a life sentence; they thought that BPD was not likely to respond to treatment and that BPD was always chronic and lifelong. Turns out the experts were wrong!

Read Full Post »

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