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 September 2011

MY FIRST MASSAGE

Last Tuesday I had my first massage which was a MASSIVE step for me to take. 

Only earlier this year when it was suggested to me I said “no way can I have anyone touch me” but I agreed to see someone at the centre who is a very good counsellor. The work I’ve been doing with her has helped me feel that the centre is a safe place. It has indeed become a very safe place for me which enabled me to reconsider the massage idea.

I originally considered starting massage in July but didn’t feel ready so put it off till September. I still didn’t feel ready. I guess I never was going to ever feel ready! But I’m not short on courage, besides, I always see things through. So I made the appointment and prepared myself as best I could. After a quarter of a century of no touch except the very occasional hug it was always going to be HUGE for me to go ahead with!

As you can imagine I was feeling absolutely awful when last Tuesday came, I was feeling so bad that I almost phoned and cancelled but I knew cancelling wouldn’t solve anything. I arrived feeling really yucky and absolutely terrified and wishing I’d taken some Diazepam! My massage therapist was waiting for me and greeted me very warmly and disarmingly. I followed her down to the room where she introduced herself to me and mentioned she’d been doing massage for 22 years. She took a medical history from me and I was really impressed that she knew what each of my meds are and what they do. After that she asked me what had led to me deciding to start to have massage. So I briefly explained the childhood abuse and the journey I’m on and that it’s the next step on my healing journey. She explained to me what different massages she could do and asked where I felt most comfortable about starting. I felt like saying “err none of it” but said I reckoned my back, neck, shoulders and arms would probably be best. I knew that lying on my back would feel way too vulnerable and exposed whereas lying on my front felt relatively safe in contrast. She explained I’d have to take my shoes off and that most people strip down to their underwear. I said I’d just about be happy taking my top off but that was going to be my limit. She was fine with that, as she said, “this is about you and what you need, we are going to take it at your pace”.

I lay on my front on the massage table and clasped my hands in front of me. I stayed like that for the whole hour. By the end of my massage I had no feeling in my hands because I’d been clasping them so hard!

She began on my back and worked all over my back to start with. While she was doing that she was standing either side of me. Even though my eyes were closed I was aware of every movement she made. When she paused I resisted the temptation to open my eyes but wondered “hmm why’s she paused, what’s she doing with her hands?” All my senses were on alert!

I have a lot of tender and painful spots all over my body. Some are to do with old childhood injuries and others to do with the ME/CFS/Fibromyalgia. There were several times it really hurt when she touched me. It took me a long time to summon up the courage and tell her when it hurt. It really wasn’t easy to say it but when I did find the courage to she was great. She stopped what she was doing. We talked about it and she changed how she was massaging me on that spot or moved to another place. That was massive for me. To have a positive response to saying “whoa, that hurt” was so healing and validating!

When she decided to work on my neck and arms she moved to standing in front of me. I found that really difficult to handle. It was obviously reminding me of stuff from oral rapes. But also having someone stood over you who could easily overpower you, wow, that was HARD. I didn’t tell her but I started getting really bad nausea. It’s not much fun lying on your stomach feeling sick and just hoping you won’t be.

I had to do a lot of self talk to keep myself there, to keep myself from running from the room and to keep myself from throwing up several times. I also had to talk myself back into the room once early on in the massage when I suddenly became aware of what my mind was doing, what my thoughts were and that I had dissociated and gone completely from the scene in my mind. 

I made it through to the end of the massage which was amazing.

The massage therapist said she was amazed and really proud of me. She thought I’d run out after 5 minutes. I responded that I’d been determined to see it through.

It was very strange for me to have someone touching me and doing something for me while not expecting or wanting anything in return. In fact the only thing she wants is for me to relax and eventually enjoy it! She told me that at the end and said “maybe, next time, you’ll be able to relax a little!”

Afterwards I booked my next massage for 11th October. Hoping that will be slightly easier!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Messages Abuse Give Us

“There are verbal and non-verbal messages in abuse. My abusers told me things that demeaned me, but the abuse carried its own messages. It communicated, “You’re not worth protecting,” “You’re only good for sex,” and other shameful expressions. I still listened to those lies, believed them and obeyed them until I brought them to the light to discredit them.” 

Christina Enevoldsen, Overcoming Sexual Abuse

MORE HELPFUL TOOLS FOR RELAXING/GROUNDING


Full Breath Instant Relaxation

This quick relaxation can be done sitting, standing, or lying down. This technique focuses on the power of your full breath to induce deep relaxation and feelings of calm. This is how it is done:
  • To begin, exhale deeply, letting all the air out from your lungs and from your abdomen.
  • Inhale slowly, expanding the abdomen.
  • Continue inhaling as you expand the middle chest.
  • Continue inhaling as you expand the upper chest.
  • Hold for a few seconds.
  • Exhale in reverse order, slowly and smoothly. Continue for as long as it feels comfortable. Focus your mind on your inhales and exhales. Be gentle with yourself.


Easy 5-4-3-2-1 Technique

Great technique for when you are feeling overwhelmed, out of control, and need something to calm you down on the spot. It can be done sitting or standing.
Here is how it's done:
  • Look around and name 5 things that you see.
  • Name 5 things that you hear.
  • Start over and name 4 things that you see (they can be the same ones that you named before).
  • Name 4 things that you hear.
  • Then - 3 things that you see and 3 things that you hear.
  • Continue with 2 things that you see and 2 things that you hear.
  • For the last round, name 1 thing that you see and then 1 thing that you hear.

"I am Relaxed" Instant Relaxation Exercise

With this exercise, you combine the relaxing power of breathing with an affirmation "I am Relaxed". This has two instant benefits: 1. through your breath you quiet your body and 2. with the affirmation you quiet your mind. You can do this standing, sitting, or lying down. To do this relaxation exercise:
  • You can keep your eyes open or you can close your eyes.
  • Bring attention to your breath.
  • When you inhale say to yourself "I am"
  • When you exhale say to yourself "Relaxed".
  • Breathe in - "I am".
  • Breath out - "Relaxed".
  • Continue breathing and repeating the affirmation for a few rounds. Let your breath move gently through your body. If your mind wanders off, just come back to your breath and the affirmation.


The 5-4-3-2-1 Technique


My counsellor "T" mentioned this technique to me last week as a useful technique for grounding when dissociated as well as for relaxing. So I came home and googled it. What follows is an extract from one article I found.

This is a description of an anti-anxiety technique called “The 5-4-3-2-1 Technique” taught to me by Yvonne Dolan, MA, author of A Path With a Heart and Recovering from Sexual Abuse.  It is also taught by Betty Alice Erickson, daughter of Milton Erickson, MD.

The technique is very simple and direct.  It does not involve complicated visual imagery or hypnotic inductions, it does not ask the client to close their eyes, imagine themselves somewhere else, or even to trust the therapist very much.  It is a way to relax and release anxiety while orienting yourself comfortably to the physical reality around you.

(1)      Establish a position that you can maintain comfortably for a few minutes.  Pick a spot on the wall or nearby and let your eyes remain on that spot, and let your head remain in a comfortable, stable position.  Moving your eyes, moving your head, moving around and re-orienting will tend to interrupt the experience, so let yourself settle into a comfortable position and stay there for a few minutes.

(2)      Say out loud in a slow, gentle rhythm five things you see, then five things you hear, then five things you feel in your body.  Then say out loud four things you see, four things you hear, four things you feel.  Next, say out loud three things you see, three things you hear, three things you feel.  Then, two of each, and finally one of each.  You’ll find yourself repeating a lot, and that’s fine.

(3)      For most people, somewhere before they get to the one-of-each category, they find themselves relaxing into the pleasant sensations of just noticing what’s around them in all its detail and richness.  They slow down a little, they kind of enjoy the process and get distracted by that, and actually lose their place in keeping track of  which step they’re on.  That’s the point of the exercise.  When you lose your place, just ask yourself, would you like to continue to get absorbed by the pleasant sensations around you, just kind of drift into daydreaming and relaxing, or would you like to go back to the exercise?

(4)      Let me demonstrate for you.  (Adjust your posture, take a deep breath, fix your gaze, and begin.)  “I see the print on the wall, I see the trees out the window, I see the chairs in the room, I see the lamp in the corner, I see the print on the wall.  I hear the sound of my own voice, I hear the traffic outside, I hear the hum of the building’s air conditioner, I hear the sound of your breathing, I hear the sound of the traffic outside.  I feel the chair supporting me, I feel my feet on the floor, I feel my watchband on my wrist, I feel my glasses on my nose – is that four or five?  I lost my place already.  So at this point I can choose to return to the exercise or just go along into noticing what I’m noticing, and continuing to relax and breathe deeply and evenly without the exercise.”

(5)      Would you like to try it?

I once worked with a client who had been traumatized with countdowns, so she preferred to reverse the order of the exercise and make it the “1-2-3-4-5 technique.”  Another client found it unpleasant to notice body sensations so used “I smell . . .” as the third sequence.  Remember to be flexible and follow your client’s lead, and may this exercise be useful and valuable to you and your clients!


Charles Holton, LCSW, 22 April 2000


JUST BEEN GETTING THROUGH

I’ve not written for a while because of what’s been going on for me.

The last couple of weeks or so have been a really rough ride. My worker “K” has been on a period of leave and the mental health recovery worker from Rethink has not filled the gap. That has been very annoying and has been a huge ‘let down’. She is supposed to be there filling in the gaps for when “K” isn’t there. Having that happen has made things even much harder than they needed to be. If I didn’t have my counsellor “T” at the Quiet Mind Centre I’d have been really stuck. “T” is the one who has maintained the stability of being there for me through it all. She has helped to pick up the pieces. She’s also helped me remain open and talking about all I’ve been feeling and about how angry and hurt I feel about Rethink’s total failure to support me just when I needed it most.

Throughout this whole time I’ve managed to avoid the trap of slipping back into survival mode to get through. I did that my keeping things that really help me do more than survive at the fore front. For instance, going out to sit under my tree with my camera is really important to me. I love to sit there watching the tide go in or out, watching nature and photographing the constantly changing scene in front of me. I love to do that and find it very healing and soothing. 

Also actively following closely events in sports that I love to watch and be a part of makes a huge difference to me. 

Last Thursday I had a fantastic afternoon when the cycling Tour of Britain came to my home town. I managed to get a place right on the front on the finishing strait and got loads of great shots of the cyclists as they came in towards the finish. I thoroughly enjoyed that and it gave me a feeling of being involved in something much bigger than myself. I know that feeling makes such a difference to how I feel. I also coped really well with the crowds. That was an area I saw huge improvement, usually I avoid crowds like the plague.

Those things have all helped me make it through and make it through without shutting down and battening down the hatches.

Now I feel like I’m on the homeward strait. 

‘K’ is back to work this coming week. I’m due to see her on Friday. It’s been a long three weeks but I’m so proud of myself that I’ve gotten through without shutting down completely, and that’s a first. I think I’m going to make it through to Friday just fine although it’ll also be an enormous relief to get to Friday and see “K” again.

Monday, 5 September 2011

DISSOCIATING

Dissociation when I was a kid was very helpful. The mechanism of dissociation enabled me to survive the otherwise unsurvivable. It enabled me to cope with the shocking constant horrors of abuse without my mind shattering. I have no doubt that without the mechanism of dissociation I would not have mentally or emotionally survived and would probably be in an institution today. Dissociation was an incredible coping mental mechanism for which I’m very thankful.

Now that I’m on my healing journey I’m discovering that dissociation is not always helpful, it can sometimes be incredibly disabling.

Last Thursday was a difficult day for me. I’d been stuck in bed for several days, emotionally unable to face the world. On Thursday I had to be up and out because I work voluntarily in a project in my town on Thursdays. I didn’t realise how bad I was emotionally. I know I wasn’t feeling like ‘me’ in any way shape or form but didn’t realise what the true situation was. I didn’t realise not only was I emotionally unable to find any motivation or strength to face the world. I was also in a dissociated state. Thinking back on those days it is clear that I was dissociated. I remember little of those days and cannot account for them at all.

I really don’t like those days when I wake up dissociated. They are disorientating days that feel crazily out of control. It’s a horrible scary feeling not knowing who I am and not recognising myself. I’m not talking like ‘me’. I’m not reacting like ‘me’. I’m not sure how I got there. I’m not sure how to get ‘me’ back. That’s how it feels.

So I woke up on Thursday morning feeling absolutely dreadful. I forced myself out of bed, through the shower and out the door to catch my bus to town. I don’t really recall the first half of the day all that much. I know I forced myself to go through the motions and do what I was committed to do. 

I remember walking in, my colleague looking at me then looking at me a 2nd time then asking me if I was ok. I remember hearing myself say “no”. I remember being asked what kind of week I had. I remember saying “horrible”. 

It was only at lunchtime when I took a short walk outside that things changed. My mind had been occupied multi-tasking for a couple of hours and I took a break in the sunshine. As I walked through the town centre I remember taking a deep breath and suddenly feeling this peace inside which is always absent when I’m badly dissociated. I remember taking that deep breath and saying “phew, I’m me again, thank goodness for that, what the heck was all that about?” And I was ‘me’ for the remainder of the day. Once I was back to me I was relaxed. Up until then I’d been very tense, full of angst and fear. I felt terrified. I didn’t want to have to communicate with anyone or have anyone communicate with me. I would have been far more comfortable curled up alone in the far corner of a dark room than being around and about feeling so awful.

In terms of the mechanism of waking up dissociated I don’t understand that. I wonder if I was in a dream or memory in my sleep and when my alarm clock jolted me awake I was stuck in that place. But I really don’t know. I’m familiar with dissociating in reaction to events and people around me but waking up dissociated really disorientates me. It happens maybe 6-10 times a month. But most times it doesn’t matter and no-one knows about it because I’m at home. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t bother me because it does. It’s really odd looking in the mirror and not recognising myself. It’s also really odd hearing myself think or speak and not recognising myself. Knowing it’s not ‘me’ but not really knowing who it is, where ‘me’ went to, or how to get ‘me’ back. It’s disorientating and frightening. It’s a very strange feeling and very hard to explain. It also feels so out of control. I hate that out of control feeling. It’s really horrible. Sometimes I feel really small. Sometimes I ask and get a name and age. It’s not much fun not knowing who you are, how old you are or where you are. It’s really scary actually!

It’s only on those days when I have to be associating and communicating with people that it gives me problems, like it did last Thursday.