Tuesday, January 22, 2008
We need shelters for sexually abused people!
This is wonderful.
Group Plans to Turn Michael Vick's House into Animal Shelter
For years, Atlanta Falcons player Michael Vick's luxurious mansion was the site of unspeakable atrocities against our favorite four-legged friends. Now, with Vick spending some well-earned time in the Big House, his dog-fighting operation has finally been shut down for good, and the Newport News, Virginia house where he based his operation is vacant and up for sale.
We're sure there are plenty of people who would shudder at the sight of the infamous "Bad Newz Kennels," where more than 70 dogs were once abused. But for a group of animal lovers from Texas, the sale of the house offers the chance for a hopeful new beginning.
Michael Morford, the founder of a nonprofit group called Jalie's Butterflies, has initiated The Vick House Project – a plan to raise money in donations to purchase the house, and then convert it into an animal shelter for abused and mistreated dogs.
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Monday, January 14, 2008
I think it is essential to drum up poetic ways to bless our daily lives. I am at home with my 3 year old, and needless to say it can be difficult to contain all of my creative needs! His are more important right now, so I do what I can! Aside from our dates and fun times spent together, puzzles, dancing, tea drinking, coloring, all of the love and excitement of being with him, I am in the midst of expanding. Not in size, thankfully. I am dilating, and I would know the feeling, after two babies! Spiritually expanding to make room for new ideas. Blessing daily life, the minutiae, the chimera, the flawed moments too, all of what makes our days what they are. It's difficult as a stay at home mother sometimes, nevertheless, the creativity I explode with is not lost in the goings on of my day! I keep a journal handy for jotting down all creative ideas. I make sure to put them to bed early, 8 each night, and give myself time at night. I wake up early to go and run or to sit and think, write, or do yoga. My youngest will be home with me not much longer, so I am making the juiciest adventure possible!
Another idea I had today, especially for survivors but applicable to anyone, is a bedroom blessing. I simply take dried lavender from my beautiful lavender plant, and I sprinkle it quietly around our bed. It's a bit of a ritual. Lavender is what I call a "positive trigger", I have written before about these in which I put a positive spin on a negative term. See, lavender is not only calming, but for me, something I discovered after leaving the blood family behind. I discovered essential oils and aromatherapy. Lavender is a very positive trigger for me, all positive connotations with this plant and scent. I let the lavender sit awhile, I say a prayer or blessing and mediate on that a bit, and I thank the Universe for a safe, loving, sexually healthy marriage, life and bedroom. It's a lovely way to bring sacred energy into the home and into the bedroom, a place where so many of us have been violated, now we can bless it. When we are done with our blessing, our infusion of the divine into our sacred space, we simply vacuum up the lavender. Anything we can do to create a feeling of wholeness within we should do. Make your entire bedroom an outward expression of your truest self. Our truest self is a blessing to the world!
I am writing for divinecaroline.com now! They rock, check them out!!
How Did I Get Here?
My husband and I love cafes. We are certifiably addicted to mochas. Every weekend we leave our two children with their grandmother, who bless her dear heart, keeps them gleefully for us overnight. This means we get to date again! We especially look forward to our java runs in the morning after a lovely night of ... well, you know. Our favorite place lately has an atmospheric vibe that I love. There are paintings on the walls featuring Eric Clapton, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington. We sit and sip, we muse and talk, we bond and eat. These are the moments that conspire to infuse me with enormous bliss. I feel indelible gratitude for my life, for our life together. I often find myself asking rhetorically and knowingly, “How Did I Get Here?” Born into fear, chaos, pain, and emotional annihilation, the proverbial phoenix has risen.
For one thing, I wanted to face the truth from a young age. I had an inborn razor sharp drive to see reality. I cannot attribute this to anything other than my innate nature. I just did. I fought tooth and nail to get into therapy at fourteen. I threatened, coerced, I begged, I yearned. I believe that this is not always the case, some folks turn toward repression, denial, and thus the proverbial head-in-the-sand result.
I don’t know why some mothers lack that, besides of course their own pain, unresolved and unprocessed, of which they are so unconscious. That may qualify as an answer to our “WTF’s!” what was she thinking? How could she? And in my case, the same can be said of my father, though he did not physically abandon me until later. It is hard, parenting. Selflessness, shaping life around another’s want and need is not always a breezy walk on the beach. Especially when we have unhealed wounds, of which I had many. My parents lacked the capacity for reflection that is essential to facing unhealed trauma. When actively healing, it is hard too. I had some very hard days as a young mama. But never did I walk out on my children. I was speaking with another fellow advocate recently, who said to me, “You do not give up, parents who abandon their kids take the easy way out.” My therapist explained to me that abandonment of a child is “total annihilation.” Perfect description.
If you choose the darkness either by chosen silence, minimizing your pain, excusing parents who have abused, neglected, beaten, emotionally raped, sexually abused, dismissed your needs, or abandoned you, you do so at the cost of your soul. Living that way is to enslave yourself. You will get sick, you will be depressed, you will suffer. It goes against the divine order of things as we are all meant to shine.
Suggestions: Educate yourself, discern what you wanted, then and now, and what you deserve and deserved. Then give as much of it to yourself as possible, and give it to your child. Surround yourself with the energy of soulful mothering/fathering. My husband grew up never knowing his father, and he is truly an incredible, connected, emotionally available, sensitive father. It is hard but it can be done!
One amazing miracle of giving someone else what you did not get, is that in a vicarious way, you get it too. The most amazing part is that we are capable of doing this in the first place. Think of a world in which no one could turn it around. Jesus. No one would ever heal.
I remember journaling about a vision of the kind of family we wanted to create. One of my entries which I wrote when carrying my second born, went like this:
“We travel, drink organic coffee from artsy mugs as we drive, we listen to groovy music like French bistro classics, Led Zeppelin, Tori, Sade. We roll the windows down and tell the children to feel that warm sun, we soak it in, we have the energy of love and passion all around us, we stop on the way to our destination, lay down a cotton blanket, and have a picnic of organic strawberries, homemade pasta salad, muffins and subs. We affirm the children’s reality and sense of themselves each day, we tell them they are beautiful, smart, loved, loving, and lovable. We dance in the sun and then get back in the car and keep going.
At home, our children have organic fruit for breakfast, we feed them so well and ourselves, we wake up grateful for each day, turn on Sting or Buddy Guy, and light incense. Dylan rests peacefully in my arms with tiny blue socks on his feet. Our home smells of ylang ylang. The windows are open and a warm summer breeze blows in. Dylan sees the clouds and laughs for the first time and we rejoice. We sit outside under a sycamore tree and talk and laugh. there are many hugs, kisses, I love yous, and just love! They see Daddy loving Mommy and Mommy loving Daddy. They see Daddy and Mommy working out problems in a respectful way. Daddy and Mommy are so in love. They see and feel this everyday.”
Nothing is worth the sacrifice of your soul light. And anyone who would ask you to do that is not loving you well. Mantra and Meditation:
Good Love Does Not Hurt.
The confrontation and assessing parental legacies of trauma is intense. The cost of snuffing your own light is immeasurable, even deadly. (think addiction, suicide, domestic violence)
This is when we begin to take out the abuse on ourselves, when we choose not to accept our own goodness. Please shine. This year, I joyfully keep healing and love in my life, I invite miracles and peace, and I pledge to enjoy many blessings. And mochas.
Friday, January 11, 2008
On overcoming the consequences of maltreatment
by Alice Miller
Almost all of us have corporal punishment inflicted on us in our formative years. But the fear and anger such punishment brings with it remain unconscious for a very long time. Children have no choice but suppress their fear and anger, as otherwise they could not sustain their love for their parents, and that love is crucially necessary for their survival. But these emotions, though suppressed, remain stored away in our bodies, and in adulthood they can cause symptoms of varying severity. We may suffer from bouts of depression, attacks of panic fear, or violent reactions towards our children without identifying the true causes of our despair, our fear, or our rage. If we were aware of those causes, it would prevent us from falling ill, because then we would realize that our fathers and mothers no longer have any power over us and can no longer beat us.
In most cases, however, we know nothing about the causes of our sufferings because the memories of those childhood beatings have long been consigned to total oblivion. Initially, this amnesia is beneficial, acting as a protection for the child’s brain. In the long term, however, it is fateful because it then becomes chronic and has a profoundly confusing impact. Though it protects us from unpleasant memories, it cannot preserve us from severe symptoms like the unexplained fear constantly warning us of dangers that no longer exist. In childhood these fears were entirely realistic. One example that springs to mind is the case of a six-month-old girl whose mother regularly slapped her in order to “teach her obedience.” Of course the girl survived those slaps, and all the other physical punishments inflicted on her in youth. But at the age of 46 she suddenly developed heart problems.
For years on end we trust to medication to alleviate our sufferings. But there is one question no one (neither patients nor their doctors) ever asks: Where is this danger that my body incessantly warns me of? The danger is hidden away in childhood. But all the doors that could afford us the right perspective on the problem appear to be hermetically closed. No one attempts to open them. On the contrary! We do everything we can to avoid facing up to our personal history and the intolerable apprehension that dogged us for so long in childhood. Such a perspective would reestablish contact with the most vulnerable and powerless years of our lives, and that is the last thing we want to think about. We have no desire to go through that feeling of desperate impotence all over again. On no account do we want to be reminded of the atmosphere that surrounded us when we were small and were helplessly exposed to the whims and excesses of power-hungry adults.
But this period is one that has an incomparably powerful impact on the rest of our lives, and it is precisely by confronting it that we can find the key to understanding our attacks of (apparently) groundless panic, our high blood pressure, our stomach ulcers, our sleepless nights, and - tragically - the seemingly inexplicable rage triggered in us by a small baby crying. The logic behind this enigma resolves itself once we set out to achieve awareness about the early stages of our lives. After all, our lives do not begin at the age of 15. Seeking that awareness is the first step toward understanding our sufferings. And when we have taken that step, the symptoms that have plagued us for so long will gradually begin to recede. Our body no longer has any need of them, because now we have assumed conscious responsibility for the suffering children we once were.
Truly attempting to understand the child within means acknowledging and recognizing its sufferings, rather than denying them. Then we can provide supportive company for that mistreated infant, an infant left entirely alone with its fears, deprived of the consolation and support that a helping witness could have provided. By offering guidance to the child we once were, we can create a new atmosphere he can respond to, helping him to see that it is not the whole world that is full of dangers, but above all the world of his family that he was doomed to fear in every moment of his existence. We never knew what bad mood might prompt our mother to expose us to the full force of her aggression. We never knew what we could do to defend ourselves. No one came to our aid; no one saw that we were in danger. And in the end we learned not to perceive that danger ourselves.
Many people manage to protect themselves from the memories of a nightmare childhood by taking medication of some kind, frequently of an anti-depressive nature. But such medication only robs us of our true emotions, and then we are unable to find expression for the logical response to the cruelties we were exposed to as children. And this inability is precisely what triggered the illness in the first place.
Once we decide to embark on a course of therapy, all this should change. Now we have a witness for our sufferings, someone who wants to know what happened to us, who can help us learn how to free ourselves of the fear of being humiliated, beaten, and maltreated as we were before, a witness who can assist us in leaving the chaotic mess of our childhood behind, in identifying our emotions and ultimately living with the truth. Thanks to the sustaining presence of this person we can abandon our denial and regain our emotional honesty.
What kind of people go in search of therapy? And why do they do so? In most cases they are women who feel that they have failed their children and who suffer from depression without recognizing it as such. Men usually come on the insistence of their partners, or because they are afraid of being left or because they are already separated.
Therapies are normally expected to solve all our present problems and restore our well-being, but without forcing us to confront our profounder emotions. We fear those emotions as if they were our worst enemy. The pharmaceutical industry caters for these desires with a whole range of remedies - Viagra against impotence, anti-depressives to fend off the effects of depression, but without understanding the deep-seated causes underlying it.
Many therapists use behavioral therapies to remedy the symptoms displayed by their patients, rather than examining their significance and their causes. Their justification for so doing is that those causes cannot be identified. But this is simply not true. In every single case it is possible to identify the causes for the symptoms. They are invariably hidden away in childhood. But only very few people truly want to confront their own histories.
Those exceptional individuals can do so by accepting their emotions for what they are. This is a course of action that we will only recoil from as long as we do not understand the causes of those emotions. Once therapy has enabled us to experience and understand the rage and fear inspired in us by our parents, we will no longer feel the compulsion to take out our anger on surrogate victims, usually our own children. In this way we can discover the reality of our own early biography step by step, understand the sufferings of the children we once were, and become fully aware of the cruelty we were exposed to in our total isolation. Then we will realize that there were very good reasons for our anger and despair, because we were never understood, accepted, and taken seriously. By experiencing these unexpressed emotions we can learn to know ourselves better.
Many therapists themselves still live in a state of total denial and have never for one moment felt the sufferings of the children they once were. We can see this from their publications. They accuse me of transposing the things I went through in childhood onto all other cases, and they insist that my situation was exceptional. Unfortunately this is not so, as I have experienced almost daily for decades. While reflection on this fact is still rare, there is a thinking minority of therapists who do their best to uncover their own repressed histories. After reading the articles on my website, they frequently ask questions that I shall attempt to answer here.
* 1. Once we have realized how much suffering our parents put us through, is there not a danger that we will hate them and perhaps no longer wish to see them?
In my view this “risk” is negligible, because justified hatred that has been experienced and understood as such will resolve itself and leave us receptive for other emotions (see the article “What is Hatred?”) - Unless, that is, we force ourselves to prolong relationships that we do not want. If we do that, we put ourselves in a position of dependency that involves a repetition of the helplessness of the maltreated child. And this helplessness is the source of hatred. True, many people fear that they will lose the love they feel for their parents once they face up to the cruelty inflicted on them in childhood. But I see this as an advantage, not as a loss. The soul of the child needs the love for her parents in order to survive, she also needs the illusion of being loved in order not to have to face up to the fact that she is growing up in an emotional desert. But as adults we can live with the truth, and our bodies will be grateful to us for doing so. In some cases it is indeed not only possible, but absolutely necessary to lose this “love,” in fact to actively desist from sustaining it. It is only by way of self-delusion that individuals who have finally understood the children they once were can love the people who were cruel to them. Many people believe that their love for their parents is stronger than they are. But once we have reached adulthood this is definitely not true. The idea that we are helplessly entrapped in that love derives from a child’s view of things. Adults are free to invest their love in relationships where they can live and express their true feelings without being made to suffer for it.
* 2. Will understanding for the reasons behind our parents’ cruelty help to relieve our sufferings or our disorders?
I believe that the exact opposite is the case. As children we all tried to understand our parents, and we do this all our lives. Unfortunately, it is precisely this compassion for our parents that frequently prevents us from perceiving our own sufferings.
* 3. Is it not selfish to think of ourselves rather than others? Is it not immoral to care more about ourselves than about others?
No. A child’s compassion will not alleviate the mother’s depression as long as the mother denies the sufferings of her own childhood. There are mothers with very loving and caring adult children who still suffer from severe depression because they do not know that the reasons for their sufferings are to be found in their own childhood. The love they receive from their children can do nothing to change this. On the other hand, a child’s persistent involvement with its parents can ruin his/her whole life. The prerequisite for true compassion for others is empathy with one’s own destiny, something a maltreated child can never develop because such a child cannot allow himself to feel his own pain. All criminals, including the cruelest of dictators, display this lack of empathy. They murder others (or have them murdered) without the slightest compunction. A child forced to suppress his own emotions will have no compassion for himself and consequently no compassion for others. This encourages criminal behavior that is frequently concealed behind moral, religious, or apparently progressive verbiage.
* 4. Would it not be ideal for us to love both our old, enfeebled parents and the children we once were?
If someone attacks us on the street, we are hardly likely to give him a hug and thank him for the blows he has dealt us. But children almost always do precisely that when their parents are cruel to them, because they cannot live without the illusion of being loved by them. They believe that everything the parents do to them is inspired by love. In therapy the adult client has to learn to forsake this infant position and live with reality. As I have said, once you have learned to love the child you once were you cannot love his tormentors at the same time.
Access to the history of our childhood gives us the freedom to be true to our own selves, which means feeling and recognizing our emotions, and acting in accordance with our needs. This enables our body to function well, staying in good health. It also gives us the freedom to stay honest and have genuine relationships with our friends. We stop belittling and neglecting our bodies and our souls, and we also stop maltreating them in the same impatient, angry, and humiliating way as our parents once treated the little child that could not speak or make sense of what was going on. We can then attempt to understand the reasons for our distress, and this is easier once we have achieved awareness of our own history. No medication can tell us anything about the CAUSES of our distress or our illnesses. Medication can only cover over those reasons and alleviate the pain - for a while. But unrecognized causes still remain active. They continue to emit their signals until the outbreak of the next illness. That illness will then be treated with different medication, and that medication will again take no account of the causes for the disorder. But those causes are identifiable. All the sick person needs to do is to take an interest in the situation of the child he/she once was and actually experience the feelings clamoring for expression and comprehension.
Child Mistreatment, Child Abuse, What is it? Alice Miller dot com
Our vision is a world in which all children are treated with dignity, respect, understanding, and compassion. In such a world, every child can grow into adulthood with a generous capacity for love and trust. Our society has no more urgent task.
The Natural Child Project
“Voices from Childhood” wants to share letters that are not meant to be sent to parents, but have been written to share the truth about our childhood with others, and for their emotional, therapeutic effect.
Voices From Childhood
Sunday, January 6, 2008
I am on a healing path. I am a mother, and I will put that first. I brought my three year old to Starbuck’s the other day for our “dates.” We go and have coffee, well, I have coffee and he asks for chocolate milk and the biggest cookie there is. We sit and hang out, we talk about colors, Star Wars, the merits of bigger cookies. When I was three I was afraid to walk through our den because I felt embarrassed that my Dad would have a porno on. My child lives in a world that may as well be in another galaxy. I can’t help thinking this as he mows through his cookie. He walks through our living room, same age, same innocence, same vulnerability, and his worst night mare is broccoli, two nights in a row. “No Bock-EEE!” The contrast is sharp, I see me walking averting my eyes from my father’s perversions and thus learning I have better just avert myself from my rights as a child, and Dylan walks in on the kingpin of all his misery, the green monster known as broccoli. It’s so stark in comparison it’s just about existential. I giggle at the images. I giggle because he is so gorgeous and free, and because he reminds me of who I was, gorgeous but not free. His intense stare awakens the feeling of the wildest freedom in my chest. It’s like he tells me with his green blue stare, YOU ARE FREE, like me, Mama.
I am free, now. In a café, getting him milk, drinking coffee, wiping his sweet mouth thinking of the amazing things that will come from them, the big words, the knock knock jokes already emerging. I feel pride in taking tender care of this delicate flower that is my child, checking with him to be sure he is comfortable, does he need to potty, does he know he is seen, not only seen, but heard, and that he is visible on a soul level? Doe she know I truly SEE him for the gift he is? I practice folding him into me, like a seedling in the garden of his mother, pressing firmly, covering, softly watering, I think of how I could never leave him. I think of his face frozen to the window, his marrow aching with a savage hot grief. His body wracked with searing pain, a child ripped from his mother by the mother herself.
Not this child, and not this mother. I see you, Dylan, I see INTO you, around you, I FEEL you, all over, You are so seen, so loved, so known, so precious. I SEE you, you exist to me, you are beautiful, free, and never, never, never invisible, especially the essence of you. Small innocent hands, vanilla skin, wispy blonde hair, blue oceanic eyes, open heart. Your laugh, your tenacity in expressing yourself, anger, joy, love.
So is my other child.
And the ones inside me too.
We are coming out of the dark, into the light.....love to all. SES