I am a survivor of extremely severe ritualistic childhood abuse and sadistic systematic torture. Without God's intervention in my life I wouldn't be here - NOW is the time for me to tell MY story by speaking the TRUTH about MY life. I will be silenced no more! On this blog I share MY life, MY healing journey; helpful quotes/stuff I come across and MY thoughts along the way. The more I speak out the more liberated I am from the shame and trauma of the abuse. My broken wings are gradually being restored. This blog has helped me begin to get my voice back and documents the journey God is taking me on to heal me from the trauma and damage caused by that most appalling abuse.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

CHRISTMAS 2011

I'm about halfway through my Christmas tour and I thought it would be good to write about how it's going. What follows are comments from the journal I'm keeping.

People in the coach are very friendly and sociable and I'm really enjoying the tour so far. It makes such a difference to get a group of really nice people!

Dinner tonight was amazing. I've never eaten 6-courses before and I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the meal. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed eating. It's a long time since I've had any pleasure in eating. I can't remember when last I did. I reckon the last time I enjoyed eating like this is back in 2009 in Lucerne. Boy, that's a long time. I didn't realise quite how seriously bad my emotional relationship with food is, I knew it was bad but didn't realise it was that bad. It feels good to be able to enjoy food, if only for a few days. That's the trouble - once I'm home alone again with no-one to eat with! Hmm it's hard.

I have nice companions at my table. I'm slowly opening up and warming to them. I'm feeling very frozen emotionally and totally out of my depth socially. I realise how isolated I've become. I also realise just how little confidence I have on a social level, even superficially. I'm feeling very awkward and unsure of myself. I'm very quiet at the table and my usual super confident front isn't there for me to pull on. I'm not quite sure why that is or where she's gone, except she ain’t there to help me cover and front it out!

I've been very gentle on myself and I intend to continue to do so, after all "M" did ask me to be gentle on myself, and I'm doing an okay job at that so far!

I can't believe how much I'm enjoying this trip. Every moment of it is so enjoyable. Last Christmas I was completely exhausted, physically, emotionally and spiritually, I realise that now. The hard work of the past year has brought me to a place where I'm more relaxed in certain situations though not in others and much stronger to deal with just going with the flow of things. This is the first time I've gone away at Christmas and not stressed about the details or how I'm going to be – it is a noticeable difference, very tangible. It's good to be aware of that!

For the horse and sleigh ride today there were 2 carriages because there are 32 of us doing it. I was given a seat on the front of the first one, next to the driver which suited me perfectly. I don't think being crammed in close with people and always like to be on an end so to on the front like that was fantastic. It also meant I was perfectly positioned for taking photos and video footage. The next hour was wonderful. It wasn't as cold as we expected. We had a lovely ride through the countryside and wooded areas. We took a break at a scenic point halfway through to have Schnapps which knocked back was lovely, surprisingly tasty and very warming.

I took over 1000 photos today as well as photos and videos on my camcorder. I've taken over 6 ½ gb of photos so far. The most photos I've ever taken on a Christmas trip. I'm much more relaxed about taking photos now and don't really worry much what other people think about it. It makes such a difference to me following my passion for photography, it's part of my make-up, part of my identity, a huge part of my identity actually!

I'm getting on well with everyone, men as well as women, I'm not quite so scared as I was and more confident about how I'm communicating. That's another huge difference I'm aware of! Huge progress really!! Just wish I could be more confident socially and at meal times, that's a very different story unfortunately!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

IT'S CHRISTMAS AGAIN


Well it’s that time of year again and I can’t quite take it in. It’s been a long hard year and yet it feels like it’s gone in a flash. 

There have been enormous changes in my life this year and not just to my name. Most of the changes have been positive ones although the process of change itself has been incredibly painful at times.

It feels strangely unreal that in a matter of hours I will be embarking on the first leg of my Christmas trip to Austria. I’m doing the usual coach tour this year but instead of Switzerland I’m going to northern Austria for a change. I’ve wanted to go to Innsbruck for a long time, it’s long been on my wish list and I’m really looking forward to experiencing the Christmas markets there on Christmas Eve and to enjoying a few warming gluhweins too! Hoping to get into the mountains too and do some mountain and landscape photography. I come alive in the mountains in a way I don’t anywhere else.

Going away at Christmas has transformed Christmas for me. It’s still a hard time of year for me and it takes a lot out of me emotionally. It also takes a lot out of me physically and I know I’ll crash for a few days after I come back. BUT having the trips to look forward to takes the edge of things. 

It means I’m doing something I enjoy, I love travelling and experiencing languages, cultures, food and drink different to my own. But travelling is something I’ve not been able to do much in my life. So, it may only be once a year but it means so much to me to be able to. 

I spend the whole year planning it, saving up and looking forward to it. I always look forward to getting to Dover, wondering who I’m going to bump into from previous Christmas trips. The hardest part of the holiday is always the social times in the evening, finding sociable people to sit and eat with. I don’t find those times easy at all. Even on these coach tours you get the odd miserable people who want to keep themselves to themselves which includes sitting alone at meal times, and woe betide anyone who approaches them. I’ve seen that three times during the last five years and it’s not pretty or in the spirit of things. I really don’t understand why people like that go on holidays like this. 

But anyway, as for me, I will enjoy the adventure of going new places, meeting new people, getting by in French and German, drinking the Austrian beer and gluhwein and of course taking the many photos I will take to tell the story of my holiday.

It’s funny now that when I think of particularly Christmas times, I remember them as “oh that’s when I went to Salzburg, Kitzsteinhorn, Interlaken, Bernese Oberland, Eiger, Luzern” etc. Then an avalanche of happy memories drops into my mind and heart.

That’s the beauty of my Christmas trips. I’m creating happy memories for myself. And that’s what’s so precious.

This Christmas I’m grappling with flashbacks and vivid images in my mind of wandering the streets as a child having been kicked out of the house for being ‘a burden’. At least the streets were my safe place. Nothing happened to me on the streets. No-one beat me when I was on the streets or messed with my head. Often I was wandering snowy streets, keeping moving just to keep warm. Often I was on the streets for the entire Christmas period. I remember wandering along staring into so many lit living rooms at families opening presents, watching TV together and so on, feeling so hurt and left out and wondering what it was about me that deserved that. It was a very lonely miserable existence. I know now that I didn’t deserve that at all. But those memories have been very vivid during the run up to Christmas this year.

And I guess that’s one reason why it’s so important for me to create as many happy memories for myself at Christmas time now.

It feels very unreal that before today is done I will be on my way. I think that’s a reflection of the long hard year it’s been. 

I’m waiting for the excitement and adrenalin to kick in. Maybe that’ll happen a little when my taxi turns up at 11.15pm tonight and then a little bit more when the feeder coach turns up at 12.30am. I bet when I get to Dover tomorrow morning I’ll be feeling excited and believing it really is going to happen for real.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

MASSAGE

Today was my 5th massage with Juliette. I'm truly amazed at the progress I'm making. She commented herself today that considering the first two times I felt physically sick then the next two weeks I could hardly move at the end for all the stored up tension in my arms that for me to be so relaxed today is HUGE. I was feeling tense coming to the massage but also looking forward to it at the same time. I told Juliette how I caught myself thinking “that was nice, really nice” as I walked away after last time's massage. We also talked about how to start with my body registered touch as pain and then I blanked out the sensation of being touched. Now I'm slowly allowing myself to feel the touch and to recognise how good it feels on occasion.

Today during the massage we were chatting and I realised I'd tuned out and not felt the feel of the massage and had to re-tune myself in and focus. The few times I managed that I really felt the niceness of it and allowed myself to enjoy it which is huge progress.

My next one is booked for 10am on Tuesday 3rd January, so that'll be a good start to the new year, funny it should be the first thing I do in the new year too!!

Hopefully I'll have plenty to talk about then!

I wonder how long it will be before I feel comfortable and safe enough with Juliette to move on from just my back, neck and shoulders to somewhere else. That question is playing on my mind a lot. I wondered that a lot during today's massage. It's amazing the things my mind does while I'm trying to have a massage!

Why is it I can't just enjoy where I'm at and acknowledge and honour the progress I've made without thinking of how better I could make it?

I guess writing this is about stopping a moment and saying “wow, what progress I've made, I'd never have thought this possible not so long ago!”

Saturday, 3 December 2011

CATCHING UP


It’s been a while since I last wrote so I thought it would be good to take a bit of time out to catch up. The last month or so has been pretty crazy getting used to all the changes and all the new beginnings. It’s taken a lot out of me and I’ve been extremely tired, physically, emotionally and mentally.

I’ve now had several appointments with ‘H’ my new Mental Recovery Worker at Rethink. We are getting on well and building a rapport and I’m getting to like her. She’s very different from the other worker I had which has been quite refreshing.

The therapeutic massage has continued once every three weeks. I had my fourth massage last week. I was amazed by how I was. I had given myself a bit of a talking to after the first three massages during which I’d been incredibly tense. I’d reminded myself that I was having the massage for positive reasons, to nurture me, help me to relax and to introduce touch into my life in a safe environment. The massages are not survival exercises! So going to my fourth massage I kept reminding myself that it was safe. The hour went really fast, I chatted with the massage therapist all the way through and I hardly noticed the time passing, I couldn’t believe it when the hour was up. As I walked back into town afterwards I caught myself thinking “that was nice, it was really nice!” I was amazed, astounded to feel that way after only four massages. The next step for me is to allow myself to feel, really feel, myself being massaged, it is my natural response to dissociate from that. She is still only working on my back and shoulders but wow the progress I am making. She’s pretty amazed too. I’m really pleased to now have touch back in my life, even if it is only for an hour once every three weeks. It’s also really good to be learning that touch can be safe and nice.

The counselling I’m having with my counsellor ‘T’ is going really well and I’ve begun to go much deeper with her. When we met last week we looked again at the contract between us to review progress and clarify the role of the counselling, especially in relation to the other support and therapy I’ve just started. We clarified what I want to achieve and what I can talk about. It was really useful to have that discussion and to give myself permission to bring anything I need to the counselling room. When I started I stated I’d only discuss certain things but as things have developed I found that boundary too restricting which was why we looked again at the contract. I’m finding our sessions really helpful. I’m comfortable in that safe supportive accepting environment I’ve chosen and prioritised for myself.

Two weeks ago I attended my long awaited appointment with the psychiatrist attached to my local Community Mental Health Team. I’d waited 16 months for the appointment which was supposed to be about diagnosis, medication and treatment options. It was helpful to have a serious discussion about my mental health and the concerns I have about how I am. It was also helpful to talk about the last 25 years of my life from a mental health point of view. I found that really useful. It was also helpful to be able to ask the question “am I bipolar?” and to hear the answer “there is no doubt that you have bipolar characteristics but you are not actually bipolar.” That response was in line with what I thought.
That was where the positives ended. 

It was not helpful when as the appointment was drawing to a close I asked “so what’s going on?” I asked that question because the appointment was supposed to be about diagnosis. Up until that point it had been me doing most of the talking. I wanted and needed to hear from the psychiatrist. The question was turned back to me “what do you think? Have you been looking things up on the internet?” While it’s nice to be asked my opinion I didn’t think it appropriate in this situation. I know what I think but I am not a mental health professional. I was already feeling stunned that I hadn’t been asked when I last self harmed or thought of suicide. I was asked if people talk to me out of the TV and if I think people have put cameras in my flat. I thought those questions were crazy and inappropriate to my situation. The psychiatrist had picked up on my abandonment and rejection issues and on my severely messed up sleep. I tried to talk the big problems I have with dissociation and child parts but they seemed unwilling to discuss that with me in any detail which irritated me. I mentioned my PTSD only to be asked “what PTSD symptoms do you have then?” I thought “what have I been talking about for the last hour?” I talked about my flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, manic states, heightened arousal states, startle response etc. This got the response “oh we don’t want to label people.” I couldn’t believe my ears and thought “Well I am asking you, I want you to, I want to know, how can I be properly and effectively treated without appropriate diagnosis? That is after all what this meeting was supposed to be all about?”

So I asked again “what do you think?” beginning to feel very frustrated. “It’s going to get much worse before it gets better, you have clinical depression and you are extremely emotionally unstable.” Yes, well I knew that already which was why I wanted the meeting because I knew I was extremely unstable and it scares me. 

So I tried a different tack “I want to review my medication because I know it’s not working as I need it to.” The response was “we don’t want to change your medication because of the risk to you of such a change, we can’t add in any new medication for the depression alongside your existing anti-depressant because it would be of the Prozac family and you can’t take Prozac. See your GP about increasing your diazepam and sleeping tablet”. 

I blurted out “Yeah but my GP aint keen on me taking diazepam or a sleeping tablet regularly, I need something official from you for that which is another reason why I wanted this meeting.” “Oh I’ll be sending your GP a summary letter of this meeting, you’re doing the right thing with starting therapy, you have a highly experienced therapist whom you are very lucky to have, keep on with the therapy, that’s all I can suggest.” I felt that was an extremely inadequate reply but it was the only one I was going to get. I left the meeting feeling very depressed, very black and very alone and wondering what the point of all that had been.  Whilst I agree that changing my medication at this time of year would be crazy and is asking for a meltdown, I feel that to indefinitely leave me on something which isn’t sufficient isn’t really a solution. 

It took me a few days to recover from that meeting and get over the depression it threw me into. 

My CPN has not been changed yet. There is no named replacement so until there is ‘K’ remains my CPN and care co-ordinator. That is unlikely to change until January. Applicants have yet to be interviewed and recruited which isn’t going to happen before Christmas. So it‘s looking like nothing will change until probably the end of January. I’m pleased at that because it means that particular huge change has not happened at the same time as all the other changes and it gives me more time to get used to the idea. It’s still going to hurt when it happens, I know it will be hard, but I hope that by the time the change happens I will be more ready to go with it. I will hopefully be feeling more settled with my sexual abuse therapist by then and more equipped emotionally to switch to a new CPN.

I’ve now had three appointments with my sexual abuse therapist ‘M’. The first two sessions were about narrating an overview of my childhood. That was extremely helpful. I tried to do it chronologically but found that impossible due to the complexities of multiple abusers and so many overlaps. Our session this week was more about exploring how my life and belief system have been affected by the abuse. I‘m finding it relatively easy to talk and open up to her. It’s still very early days getting to know you stuff but it’s proving very helpful. It’s also extremely tiring and the day after each session I am dog tired.

On a more general level I’m amazed at how well I’ve coped with all that’s happened. I’ve come a long way. It’s been a huge learning curve to experience huge changes in my life which have turned out to be more positive than I could ever have believed. I’ve been so conditioned to expect bad stuff and to expect things to go badly and negatively. Suddenly events in my life are beginning to turn out more positively than negatively.

I had an ultrasound scan on my left foot last week which confirmed diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. They want to do a course of shockwave therapy over the next couple of months to see if that works. If not then it’ll mean an injection. But they are very hopeful of being able to successfully treat it without such an invasive and painful procedure.

I’m now preparing for my annual Christmas trip to the Alps. I had my travel itinerary from the tour company yesterday. I am travelling to Austria this year and really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a huge change from my usual pilgrimage to Switzerland and I’m excited about what I’ve planned. I’m ultra organised this year. I’ve sent off all my cards which had to go be sent early because of my name change early in the year. All my Christmas decorations are up. For the second successive year I’m first on my part of the road to have my Christmas lights up because I’ve beaten the guy across the road from me who puts a flashing star in his window.

The good thing to come out of the last few months is awareness and acceptance of my child parts. I really take notice of them, take care of them and do things for them as well as for the adult me. They are a lot happier and more content as a result. I no longer feel at war with myself which makes a HUGE difference to me!!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

ABUSE AND POWER

I was reading an article today by someone reflecting on the Penn State abuse revelations in the United States. The article was written by someone who is very aware of child abuse within youth detention facilities. 

There were two comments in the article which jumped out at me and apply to abuse in any context.

"When people have unchecked power, bad things happen. When predators have unchecked power, horrendous things happen."

"Those who participate or acquiesce in the abuse of children must be held accountable -- even when the victims are behind bars."

The article can be read at