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.

Monday, 28 May 2012

MY RECENT VISIT TO CUMBRIA


It's hard to gather my thoughts and emotions around all I experienced during the past week. I anticipated I would probably have a good time but was not sure how I'd cope with it all.

My overnight stop in Windermere was fantastic and excellently located. The weather the next day was appalling but it didn't stop me seeing Grasmere and doing everything I wanted to do there. The 4pm check in at my Keswick B+B was a pain which meant I was hanging around in the cold and wet far too long which led to me being poorly during my trip, although that wasn't the only reason I was poorly. I under-estimated the effect of the trauma of facing memories and emotions on me which all contributed to me being poorly throughout.

It was lovely when the weather cleared early that evening and I was able to walk down to Friar's Crag and take some wonderful photos. That walk down to Friars Crag was so important to me. Before then I'd been feeling very overwhelmed by the realisation that everywhere I turned and looked there were memories, emotions, smaller versions of 'me' running around. The weather clearing enabled me to go down to Friars Crag. It also meant I had Friars Crag to myself for a good half hour. It is so rare to be alone there that I felt that was SO meant to be. That half hour alone at Friars Crag was so healing and calming, it was equivalent to being at my tree. It calmed me immensely and helped me ground myself and remind myself why I was there in Keswick. The 'me' who walked away from Friars Crag was very different from the 'me' who that walked there. It enabled me to move forward into the reasons why I was in Keswick and took the focus off the trauma on to what I was in Keswick to do.

I thoroughly enjoyed the mountain festival. It was wonderful absorbing myself in climbing and mountaineering culture for a few days. Mountaineering is such an important part of my life. I always knew it was important but never realised quite how important until I was at the mountain festival and in that environment. Although I hoped I might actually meet Chris Bonington I never really actually believed that could happen. So when I did actually meet him, shake his hand and speak with him it was very special. Bumping into a couple of friends on the Saturday was lovely and did me a lot of good. I really needed that big hug but meeting them did wobble me. It reminded me about how close I was to Whitehaven and that it would be very easy to bump into people I didn't want to. That seriously wobbled me and I my attention was drawn to how close to the surface the trauma actually is! Once I got back to my B+B after that I calmed down, refocused myself on why I was there and felt safer once more.

Walking on Catbells on the Sunday morning was wonderful. To finally set foot on the mountain in such glorious weather and get the photos I've wanted for so long was very special indeed. It was also good to get photos of Friars Crag from the angle you can only get from on the fells. I am really pleased to have photographed Friars Crag from every possible view as well as to have taken many other photos I have wanted to take for a long time.

Going on to Whitehaven on the Monday was very hard. I did not want to leave Keswick, making the transition was very tough. I felt so ill making that transition. Being with special old friends in the evening was incredibly precious. The years rolled away and the 3 hours we spent together was very special and will live long in my memory.

Tuesday in Whitehaven was very hard. My anxiety levels were very high and I felt very physically ill and weak. It took a lot of energy to wander round taking photos all the while on the look out in case my abusers were around. Thankfully it passed off without incident. By the time my friends picked me up I was completely done in and had nothing left.

It just shows how deeply traumatised I still am by all that's happened, not just throughout my life in Whitehaven but also during the last couple of years. The events of my childhood have very deeply traumatised me in ways I hadn't realised but also that trauma is very close to the surface and it doesn't take much to tip me into it.

It took me a while to start to relax at my friends' house. It didn't help that I was still coughing a lot and I felt very limp and done in. At least I managed to eat while there and enjoyed showing off my photos to my friends on the TV. We talked at length and in depth. It was SO good to be able to be so open. She commented on how much more relaxed I am. Our drive over to St Bees in the evening was lovely. I was reminded how much I like St Bees and why. It was also lovely to be able to relax and be safe relaxing which I couldn't do while in Whitehaven, even with them. It was hard to leave them at the end of the evening, but I knew I really needed to be back at the Premier Inn and to get an early night.

Now I'm home, getting used to being back in my own bed, with my snooker table and back to all that's familiar.

This trip has taken a lot out of me and I very seriously need to rest. I've learned a lot about myself during this trip - I realised how strong I am but also how I need to balance that with being real and vulnerable!

It's been a kaleidoscope of emotions and feelings, connecting with childhood memories and reclaiming them as an adult. I'm glad I made the trip although I could have done with not being ill. But I think there was a huge lot of reasons for me being so ill, including the stress and anxiety of doing the trip.

I think it's the first time that I've been away and have felt happy about going home. It's strange to be back though. I've really loved being in the mountains and being back in old familiar surroundings. It's great to be home back among more up to date familiar surroundings!

I feel there is a part of me which is still in Cumbria. I have a lot to process. I seriously underestimated the depth of the trauma and how hard it was going to be. I also discovered, well got a glimpse of a 'me' who is immensely strong, determined, tenacious as a bulldog and very resilient!!

It was SO good to recognise that in me. Other people have seen it in me but now I have seen it in me too, and that is SO very precious and important.

Part of me wishes I hadn't gone to Cumbria because it's opened such a Pandora's box of emotions and memories. It has taken a lot out of me and will take some recovering from. But for the most part I am very glad I went and faced all that in such a safe and controlled manner. I now have some wonderful memories and new insights which I think on looking back I will realise that it was an important part of my healing journey!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

MY IMPENDING TRIP NORTH

On Wednesday 16 May I'm heading up north to the Lake District and my home town for a little holiday to catch up with people and places which are very special to me. I've written about the coming trip on my blog "From a Chrysalis to Beautiful Butterfly." Here is a short excerpt from it.


This coming week I’m heading back North for the first time in five years. It was July 2007 when I was last in the Lake District. During that trip I went to Keswick for the Keswick Convention and had a lovely week. It is even longer, ten years, since I was in my home town, as it was August 2002 I last went there. I’ve stayed away for my own safety. But I feel that I’ve stayed away too long and now I’m ready to go back for a short visit. Plus my friends have been saying to me for a while “when are you coming to see us?” So it’s a long overdue trip.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation I received is paying for this trip. Although the compensation was not awarded to me for positive reasons but because of the trauma and abuse in my childhood I have worked hard to use it as a positive force in my life. I’m done this through paying off virtually all my debt and through treating myself to things I’ve always wanted to experience but have never had the money to do. 

That includes holidays, and this trip north is the first one.
 
It’s going to be quite a trip. So there’s lots of stuff to look forward to and to feel excited about as well as some aspects to feel a little anxious about too. It’s going to be exciting and relaxing in parts. It will also be possibly challenging and emotional in other parts. But overall I’m sure I’m going to have a great time and it’s going to turn out far better than I could hope for. I just need to be very gentle with myself, pace myself and look after myself and all my child parts.


The whole post can be read at 

MOVING ON IN THERAPY


The last three weeks since my sexual abuse therapist came back from leave have been amazing. I thought I might find it difficult to get going during the first session because it had been a three week break and I anticipated I’d feel awkward and stilted. I was a little awkward and stilted for the first 15 minutes and then we broke off from catching up and talked about day and times for the next two sessions. 

That few minutes focusing on such a mundane issue seemed to break through my awkwardness and caution and when we began to talk on how I’d been and how I’d coped and dealt with all that had happened in her absence I was talking much easier and more freely. I was really surprised. 

I think I’m at a place where I trust her around 85% which is amazing and incredible. I’ve only been working with her since November. So just six months in I know as I know, as I know, that she is safe and I am safe with her. She is really good at putting me at my ease. Everything she does and says is stuff which shows enormous respect towards me.

In the first session back I was able to discuss with her stuff being triggered and stirred up by the impending change of CPN. We looked at how I deal with change and other traumatic events. She explained to me how trauma changes the way your brain develops which underpins and informs my current ways of coping and dealing with changes and other traumatic events in my life.

There was a flip chart in the room which I utilised. I wrote in the centre of the paper “Traumatic events”. Around that word I wrote several words describing feelings, processes and emotions I experience at such times. Above it I wrote several statements my abusers used towards me during traumatic events and times of change. From that I was able to see the effect of that brain-washing on my mental and emotional processes today. Underneath I wrote some of the things I’m learning about myself during my healing journey which help negate some of those early negative traumatising statements.

My therapist commented that one day she’d love me to write that bottom statement in massive writing across a huge sheet of paper. It was a very powerful piece of work indeed.

The following week I talked more in depth about my thoughts and feelings concerning the change from Kathy, my CPN to a new one. My therapist asked me if I wanted to do anything practical and I said I wanted to do some painting. 

When I paint I have no idea what I’m going to paint just that I need to and that was the case this time. 

I painted two paintings. One of them symbolised my hurt core and the other one my abandoned core. Those are the two main areas being affected by the impending changes.

In my work with my sexual abuse therapist I’ve always felt like she really respects me. I’ve had to overcome my fear of my efforts at painting being belittled and put down because although I’m creative I’m no artist and I was terribly belittled in childhood and wasn’t allowed free expression of myself creatively. 

But I’ve discovered that my therapist respects and honours my painting and understands the processes I’m going through as I paint. She frequently reminds me that it’s not about being able to draw but just about expressing things that cannot be expressed verbally.

I take photos of the paintings and other things I do as a record. That enables it all to be accurately dated. I’m sure it will be really useful to look back on.

Last week we began the session looking at the paintings I did the previous week. We discussed what each painting was about, the emotions, memories and thoughts. The discussion took us to some very deep places and I surprised myself at how freely, candidly and honestly I shared deep painful stuff. It was a very powerful session.

My relationship with my sexual abuse therapist is very therapeutic and healing. It is releasing me to be ‘me’ in a very real deep way. She is also helping me understand and accept myself better as well as bringing soothing and healing deeply wounded traumatised parts of me. 

The work we are doing is slow and gradual. She anticipates working with me for at least another two to three years until I can take part in group therapy before returning to her afterwards to carry on the one-to-one therapy.

The changes I see in me already are huge. I’ve come a long way to trust her and feel safe with her to the extent that I do. At the same time I know we have barely started. But the work we are doing is giving me hope.


COUNSELLING PROGRESS


I’ve been making loads of progress with my counsellor Tina over the last couple of months. We work in a number of ways – just sit and talk, draw, write things, do mind maps [which I find really helpful] and also do other dynamic stuff such as sitting in different chairs communicating in all sorts of ways with my child parts and also other people in my life who cause me problems. Tina and I have very powerful though gentle sessions. Each week we have a Russian doll which we use to represent some of my child parts so they feel fully part of what goes on in the room.

Tina was a rock during my recent benefit crisis, enabling me to express my anger, hurt and frustration instead of bottling it all up and self-harming as a result of bottling it up and internalising it all. One day I was so angry that she suggested I bash a pillow. I felt really silly to start with and deep within expected my expression of anger to be belittled, instead it was honoured and given space to come out and as I beat the pillow more I felt less and less silly and ended up kicking it in the air and stamping on it.

Another week I was exploring how I see myself in relation to what my abusers said I was. I wrote a long list of all the negative and terrible things my abusers made me to believe I was. To try and get past the brain-washing she suggested writing list of words I would use to describe myself. I really struggled to write a positive list of words. Tina then said what about other people you know I trust. I suggested her and she wrote a long list. After that she asked “who else?” I looked blankly at her and she suggested writing down what my prominent child part sees you. I went blank at that point so she suggested I choose a cushion to represent the child part and hold it. I chose and held the cushion to me, closed my eyes and focused in on her and out came the most amazing list. Tina then suggested Kathy, my CPN. I chose a different cushion, closed my eyes and focused in on all the positive things she has said to me about me and my character.

At the end of that I had several very long lists which made me take a deep breath, stand back and go ‘wow’. It was incredible to read those amazing lists and realise I am not what and who my abusers said I was and made me to believe I am. The real ‘me’ outside of that toxic situation is very different. For the first time in my life I began to stand outside of how I see myself and get a very different view. To say it was very powerful is a huge understatement.

Last week I was feeling very drained because I’d had an extremely disrupted night’s sleep full of constant waking from bad vivid dreams. There was one specific nightmare which I remembered in finite detail. It is so rare for me to remember the details of my dreams that I knew it was significant and needed to be looked into. During my session with Tina we looked in detail at what happened in the dream and all the characters in it. She had a box of soft toys which I used to represent different characters in the dreams. I then went and sat by each soft toy and explored what was happening from their perspective. In the process we picked the entire nightmare apart and realised it was about the impending changes ahead with my CPN and how that’s making me feel. It was also about the process of change I’ve undergone during the last few months in my ways of thinking, processing, perceiving myself and the world around me, and in how I deal with events that happen.

Two nights later I had another similar night and another very vivid nightmare which I also remembered in detail. Remembering the work I did with Tina two days previously I was able to examine that dream and recognise that the theme was a continuance of the issues and fears around impending changes as well as how I and my life are changing as a result of the work I’ve been putting in to my healing.

I will be seeing Tina again on Tuesday, the day before I travel north for a break, to see friends and visit favourite places. We will discuss my thoughts and fears about the trip as well as remind myself of all the positive reasons why I’m making the trip. 

I did a useful piece of work with my Rethink Mental Health Recovery Worker last week in which we wrote down all the positive reasons why I’m going north and all the positive things I intend to do and experience during it. I printed two copies when I typed that list out. I put the copies back to back and laminated it. I did that so that whichever side I pick up first I will see something positive. I will take that with me on my trip and use it keep me grounded in why I’m there and hope it will help keep anxiety and fear at bay.