Confessions of an abuse survivor

I decided to name this post, and any future posts like it, in a way that would provide a heads up for anyone wishing to avoid such emotional discussions. I’m not planning on raw, uncomfortable, tell-alls, I know difficult discussions can be had in a civilized manner.

Anyway, today’s post doesn’t include any of that.

This could be a this-and-that kind of day except my thoughts have been heavier than that this week. Confession seems to be a more appropriate label.

I debated including the term abuse survivor but decided it gives context to where my head is at with the topics. There is nothing frivolous in my contemplations.

Enough of that.

So here’s the thing I’m trying to figure out. Why?

That’s what I need to know. Why?

I haven’t come up with an answer, so far, and I doubt this writing exercise will be all that revealing but I have to try.

I’m reluctant to tell you what I’m referring to because when I think of putting it into words, in my mind it sounds silly. I’m afraid you will dismiss it as such if I tell you what I’m thinking.

So, partial confession. As I’m contemplating the why of my reluctance to take on a certain task I’m wondering if maybe a trigger is behind it. What thought or emotion is holding me back?

So, here’s the thing. In the last year or so, because of interviews and the like, I’ve been exposed to non fiction books, mostly related to my life experience with abuse. They struck me as useful in my healing journey and I put out a significant amount of money to obtain them.

I was excited to have them, paid full price for most of them, and yet I can’t seem to make myself take the time to read them.

Were they just another bright idea that didn’t survive the light of day?

Would my reluctance to tackle the challenge stem from deep insecurities? The fear of failure?

Could the reticence be linked to anticipated emotional responses to painful subjects?

Are there unidentified triggers going on?

I’ve faced head on the physical abuse attributable to my dad. At the same time, I will admit I don’t want to think about or deal with the emotional abuse stemming from my mother or my marriage.

Is that what this is about?

I’ve heard it said we must ask ourselves this question – Do you want to be healed, really want to be healed?

When we honestly ask ourselves this question we might be surprised to find that the answer is no. The price we would have to pay to find healing could seem too high.

If I’m really honest, I think when it comes to my mother and my marriage, my heart says the price is too high.

I do really want to be healed. I’m not acting like it.

I will keep on thinking and praying about this.

In the meantime…

Some of the books in the lineup.

The one I’m considering at the moment is The Power of Writing It Down

If you made it this far, thanks for listening.

A helpful resource – professional counselling in book form

The level of professional counselling we need is sometimes not easily found. That was the case for me a decade or two ago and this book was a life saver. It was written as a joint effort by the Minirth/Meir group, both of them psychiatrists, joined by a third person, a psychologist.

The book starts off talking about codependency. That’s not the way I remember it from my first reading. It’s funny how that goes. The parts I remember are the ones explaining what happened to me, how it has affected me, and the broken way I do life as a result. Understanding opened many life changing doors in my thinking.

Of all of the many books I’ve read this one was the most comprehensive and impacting. It was written to be a counselor to those without access to one. It covers the subject well enough to be a textbook written in layman’s terms.

I’ve shared this book here before but feel inspired to share it again.

I was speaking with a long time friend today, catching up on our lives and families. Stuff happens in our families and sometimes there is brokenness left undiscovered for decades.

I’ve been thinking about our conversation for most of the day and tonight remembered about this book that could be helpful in their situation. So, this is for my friend, to share as she sees fit.

It’s for you too (as reader) if this would be helpful in your life.

One more comment. I remember interpreting the title and certain phrases in the synopsis in a negative way.

Reality was nothing like my expectations. Supportive, kind, understanding, helpful; these are all words I would use to describe the experience. And, validation.

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Love Is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships

Amazon quote:

Let go of unhealthy relationships with the book that more than 850K people have trusted.

Best-selling doctors, Hemfelt, Minirth, and Meier, walk you through their ten proven stages to recovery from codependency that results from external circumstances.

Humans are susceptible to codependency because of our sinful tendency to use defense mechanisms to fool ourselves. In codependent relationships, deceitful games are played, and important Christian principles are often taken out of context and abused.

God wants us to have healthy relationships with a balance between being dependent and independent. The doctors describe how the most effective means of overcoming codependent relationships is to establish or deepen a relationship with Christ Himself.

They describe the causes of codependency, pointing out the factors that perpetuate it, and lead readers through their ten stages of recovery.

Continue a deeper study with the Love Is a Choice workbook, available separately.

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Read this prayerfully with a surrendered heart and mind. I say this because our defense mechanisms can have us locked up so tight that helpful thoughts cannot penetrate the armor we have going on. Work on wanting to know. Work on believing there is hope, and that you are worth so much more than what you’ve been told.

Another installment of this and that

The weather fluctuations are crazy. Last week the highs were over 30 degrees celsius and now today the furnace is on. And I’m still cold.

I’m restless too. That’s the reason why I’m dong this now. Get a few things off my chest so maybe I can settle down and sleep tonight.

I’m still thinking about yesterday’s post where the discussion started with an app on my cell phone that was driving me crazy and then morphed into a discussion about trust issues and fear.

A few things bother me out of that story. One is, I know there are readers who understand and empathize with discussions about abuse, triggers, and PTSD and then there are others who don’t. It’s the readers who don’t that trouble me.

There are other readers who are glad to hear these stories, it validates things they have endured. There is comfort in knowing we are not alone in our struggles.

Another thing that bothers me; those who would say it’s all in the past why can’t you lay it aside, stop rehashing it and move on.

That’s the thing, I’m not reliving anything, ever. My subconscious mind won’t let me. My conscious mind knows enough (it steers away and refuses to think) that the two are in collusion and neither one will let me remember traumatic events. Small details, discussions, memories over the course of many years have allowed me to piece together a hazy but accurate picture of what went on. My mind just shuts down and closes up shop at the mention of this subject.

Reactions, mostly inappropriate (as in not fitting to the situation) such as the one I had regarding a new app on my phone, one that should have been no big deal. A well adjusted mind would thought – interesting, wonder what that’s about – and then explored to figure it out. I viewed it as an enemy trying to impose unwanted interference in my life.

It’s only been a few months since I’ve started to look closely at these reactions, to try and unpack what is going on in my head when it happens. I would name my emotional reaction as the panic you have when a hated spider comes near and you jump, scream, and run. I don’t actually do those things but the emotions running through me feel exactly like that. Get away, get away, get away!!!

To be afraid of something, there has to have been a traumatic encounter of some sort somewhere along the line. The trouble is I have no conscious memories to help me figure these things out. On the other hand, I’m sure it’s a bigger blessing that I can’t remember. There are a few disturbing words that I know apply to me. Good thing I can’t remember what happened.

There is one shadowy memory that has been with me forever it seems. It took many decades for me to figure out what it meant, not that I was trying, or wanting to know. In fact it was the opposite. My curiosity level was zero.

More recently I’ve figured out who was there for that event. There was one man who disapproved of the situation but stayed to protect me as best he could. I can’t explain the gratitude I feel now when I think of him and that memory.

Anyway, that’s enough for this time. My anxiety level has dropped and it’s time for sleep. Any more would probably be counter-productive anyway.

When I started this I wanted to express this story in a way that didn’t feel cryptic or disjointed. I’m not sure that I’ve succeeded.

Now if I had more time … 🙂

We all learned some things

It’s funny how a lighthearted conversation can turn into something so much more.

So the back story is that this annoying application showed up on my android phone a number of months ago and it kept wanting to open things up for me. I had no idea where it came from or why it was there. Unequivocally, I wanted it gone. Stop trying to take over my phone and my life.

Nothing worked the same with it there. I was happy with life before it showed up and I just wanted it off my phone so things could go back to normal. I even searched out removal instructions but couldn’t make them work for some reason.

After limping along for a very long time I mentioned it at my daughter’s house yesterday, complaining that I missed dates because I couldn’t access my calendar anymore. She enlisted the help of my grandson and while he searched to see what the app was all about before he looked for removal instructions, I laughingly but vehemently admitted to my rebelliousness at the app for trying to take over my life.

I’d figured out how to work around it for most things just not everything and I was highly resentful.

This was new territory for my daughter, I think she called it an eye opening experience listening to me rant about how much I hated the interference of this thing. Thankfully she didn’t enlarge on her comment during the family Zoom call later on.

So with my grandson’s search, he discovered the annoying app must have been an update and it was intended to launch apps, replacing the last version of an app launcher. It wasn’t the enemy I took it for and it wasn’t trying to take over my life and force me to do things I didn’t want to do.

There was a choice for just-once or always. I thought that meant it was an optional thing and the just-once was to decide if I wanted it or not. Turns out the just-once was to let me choose between two versions. He checked them out, we decided on always, problem solved.

At the time, I thought the whole conversation was hilarious. Later, thinking about why I felt like I was being pressured to do it’s biding, the conversation in my head took on a more serious tone.

Part of the problem in the misunderstanding is that while I can figure out how to use most apps, I have a problem with operating system issues. It’s always been that way. Probably because the need for action shows up so seldom.

The bigger part of the misunderstanding is more complicated. Thinking about my knee jerk reaction and my unreasonable position of viewing the app as the enemy, I have to admit, an irrational response on my part is pretty normal as a first reaction to many things.

I see the enemy everywhere because I have major trust issues.

I have to figure out how to make positive changes.

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I’ve been thinking about a dog. After seeing my grandson’s new puppy. A dog would be an easy way to share my life with another being and allow a little more than the usual contact with other humans.

Hmmmm.

I know. I have to stop thinking that everyone and everything is out to harm me. Fear is no way to live a fulfilling life.

This resonates with me

A short interview on a timely topic, for me anyway. It feels to me like this should be shared.

Coffee break is awesome today. This video is part of an interview series I’ve been following and this man is very wise. The series is based on a book he’s written, so there you go, we still have books to think about.

This resonates with me because past buried, horrendous, memories still plague me in the form of triggers. I’ve come a long way in the last decade but there is still more to be done and I appreciate any resource crossing my path.

I share because it touches me but also because someone else may need to hear this as well.

Wishing you the very best in your healing journey.

It isn’t that I can’t, it’s that I can’t.

This is one of those just say something kind of days. You know, those days when it’s time to write a post and you have nothing.

So, this title is the thought that’s been rolling around in my head all day. It’s entirely true, and to my mind, it’s hilarious. I love a good play on words.

Probably the reason why this idea is lodged securely in my mind, like a silly song that stays with you all day, is because I lived it over the weekend.

Saturday afternoon was the time for our regular monthly writer’s group. We take turns chairing the meeting and February was supposed to be my turn. It’s bad enough when we meet in person and I can look around the table to see everyone; make it a Zoom meeting and it is confusing and worse. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do a good job and decided to look for a fill-in. I felt the group deserved to have a better experience than I could give them.

Some time after arranging my replacement I read and enjoyed a book featured in a previous blog post here. This added a new element to the meeting as I shared my enjoyment with the rest of the executive. With the help of several of our group members who knew her personally, I was able to contact the author. She would love to read an excerpt for us from her short story. Once this was all settled the agenda came out for the meeting and I was surprised to find I was still on it. In a smaller capacity but still. No one said a word, they just snuck it in there.

It all worked out ok. I was ready with my part mapped out in my head and it went smoothly. Probably because concern for my newly assigned task overshadowed every other worry.

In the end, I had the ability. It wasn’t like I couldn’t do it before but now I could.

The best way to describe why I couldn’t do it would be disability. Something crippling my ability

At this point I can hear one of our best writers saying “when you make statements like that I want to hear details”

I can tell you that I have complex PTSD from ongoing childhood abuse. It started before I was born and ended when I was twelve. I can’t give you details because I don’t have memories. They talk about abuse victims compartmentalizing as a coping mechanism. That’s what my mind did. Ninety-eight percent of my childhood memories are locked in a sealed vault and even though I’ve given myself permission to bring some of them out, for the most part, it’s not happening. I was describing it to my daughter the other day, It’s like watching a room with small windows… every now and then a shadow goes past. That’s the extent of it.

I’ve been in heavy denial about all of this for most of my life. Up until about fifteen years ago when one of my brothers insisted that I own it and admit the truth. This admission was the beginning of a new dimension in my healing journey

One discovery along the way was this: My disability comes not from memories but from triggers rising out of memories buried deep inside me. The deep place that will never forget.

In the past I refused to even think about the shadowy memories I did have.

It turned out there was a better way. I could stop and examine the shadows. Ask questions. Try to understand family dynamics and recognize what was behind abusive actions. There were many well-that-explains-a-lot moments once I allowed myself to question, to take a honest look.

So, I guess the question is, how does this affect my ability to do or not to do? It’s this way… my survival response is to shut down.

Freeze. Panic attacks.

I’ve had many theories about why this is.

A break through moment tells me it’s all about feeling safe.

Why don’t I feel safe? Honestly, aside from rooted in old memories, I have no idea.

I think it will take more than my lifetime to heal from this.

Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. At least I’m making progress.

Maybe can’t could even turn into can someday.

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One thing I know for sure, I’m not alone on this journey. Many others walk a similar path.

Sharing our stories is an effective way to add support to our fellow travelers.

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I will admit this started with a light heart but didn’t end that way. That’s not a bad thing. Honesty is the good thing.

A knee jerk reaction – do you ever have them?

It keeps happening and I have no idea why. It happened again today.

Jerry Jenkins, author of dozens of books, loves to encourage writers to become the best they can be. He often puts out free mini courses and today I was gong to read the newest one. It’s called Breaking down the 7 main story elements. To write a story you have to be a writer.

That thought right there, being a writer, was the trigger to an intense, visceral, emotional, knee jerk, negative reaction. I know, it seems like that’s overkill on the descriptive words but that’s about how it is, Fight or flight. Just short of a melt down. This happens to me fairly often with this writer idea and I have no idea why. It makes no sense that I can see. I’m sure there must be a mental health professional out there somewhere, though, who could tell me why.

It’s funny because I have this denial thing going on and yet I’ve spent years working on my communication skills. More recently I’ve joined a writers group, started this blog, read whatever catches my eye teaching me how to be a better writer, and even started a little fiction story. Go figure.

So, after some settling down time, I read through the tutorial and took notes on Jerry’s material about 7 main story elements.

The presentation was encouraging to me in several ways.

First; I’m stalled out on the story I’m writing, have been for awhile now. As I read what Jerry had to say, some things began to come together in my mind. I know where I need to go next with my characters.

Second and more importantly; it helped in regard to Book Reviews. I love books, some more than others. I love in different ways, for different reasons. The challenge is to put words to emotional responses. The struggle to express myself has caused me to dislike and avoid book reviews.

I’m discovering that instructions on the how and why of writing is helping me understand both what makes a story relatable and what is happening in the writing of the story for it to draw me in so completely.

A discussion of the story elements and the words used to describe them has also helped tremendously. It’s getting easier to move past simply I love this book and on to compiling a list for the reasons why I love this book.

I’m still feeling inadequate to understand and express my thoughts about books, but it’s getting better. I’m excited about that. The attempt with this post is probably helping me more than you.

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The most enjoyable part in the learning to write process, for me anyway, is the reading of excellent books. They say to be a great writer we must read extensively. I am all over that.

My most recently read & enjoyed book is The Maid of Fairbourne Hall 

Jerry Jenkins talked about the importance of describing the setting in layers throughout the story as opposed to a full description prior to stepping into the story itself.

Layers is the operative word here and this book did that.

The other thing this book did was make the story real, transporting me to a different time and place.

It’s a good thing this was Saturday and I could stick with it to the end.

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Currently, I’ve selected a series that’s been on my TBR list since the middle of July. After a few pages I’m hooked and since Terri Blackstock is a long time favorite I’m looking forward to this.

The If I Run Series: If I Run, If I’m Found, If I Live 

If I Run … book 1

Casey knows the truth. But it won’t set her free.

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they’ve failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up.

Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices: the girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

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Writing this post has been helpful in working things out in my mind. I’m hoping it’s managed to make a little sense for you in reading it.

Check out JerryJenkins.com if you are interested in hearing more from him.

In the meantime…

Happy Reading!

This is a blog about books but …

This blog is about books, fiction books mostly, regular stories, nothing too heavy. Except for every now and then. Today’s featured book is a heavy topic and is to be read with caution. The authors stress this in the interview.

I’ve read many heavy topic books but don’t always share them, or if I do I do it quietly. This one I think should be shared a little more openly. I’m sure there is someone out there who needs to read it.

I’m including the link to an hour long interview podcast introducing you to this book and it’s authors. I found it very helpful to have background information before I read the book.

Mark Lowry has a way of asking insightful questions, keeping the interview moving along. The hour doesn’t drag or feel like it’s too long.

Brad Jersak pastored a small community church, meeting in the gym of my teenagers school a few decades ago when we lived in Abbotsford BC. I’ve never met him in person but knew of him. Over the years I’ve seen other interviews with him as he’s written a number of books.

Paul Young is author of one of my favorite books The Shack. I’ve followed him through the years as well.

Brad and Paul are friends and collaborated to produce The Pastor: A Crisis

This story is purely fiction and it’s been written to bring hope and healing to a desperate place where there’s little hope. With this type of subject it would be wrong to tell true stories.

The Pastor: A Crisis 

A weary fundamentalist pastor is stuck in a psychiatric ward, staring into the abyss of his own secret shame. Before he can be free, he must confront his demons and find Grace. But will he let go? Will he allow himself to be healed?

The Pastor explores the perilous human journey from self-will and striving through defeat and despair to hope and the redemption found only through surrender.

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This book resonates with me, the adult child of an alcoholic sex addict.

I have my own personal journey with denial and triggers. Recognizing and acknowledging the event behind my trigger and facing it head on has taken the steam out. It’s been a healing experience though not an easy one.

I can relate to this book in a limited way because it was written for men. To me it feels like reading a foreign language where I only know a few words. It doesn’t matter if I get it as long as men do.

If you feel drawn to this book I hope you will read it and begin a journey to find healing.

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I’ve forgiven my father and I’m working on forgiving you too. I can’t honestly ask you to read this book and heal if I’m unwilling to forgive.

More importantly: There’s nothing God can’t forgive if you truly want it.

It seems we have to soundly hit bottom before we are ready for surrender.

I’m praying that if you need to read this book you will.

God’s forgiveness and healing is amazing.

Free and bargain books for April 15, 2020

Browsing may be fruitful this morning.  This first book is one of my read-and-enjoyed from 2017 and I would bet we’ve seen it recently too. Again is not a bad thing.

Leaving Oxford (Southern Hearts Series Book 1) … $1.31 CDN

Leaving Oxford

Amazon quote:

Escaping home to Oxford, Mississippi, seemed like a good idea. Until it wasn’t.

A year after a tragic accident in Los Angeles flipped her world upside down, advertising guru Sarah Beth LeClair is still hiding away in her charming hometown of Oxford, Mississippi. And she may well be stuck there forever. Suffering from panic attacks, she prays for healing. Instead, her answer comes in the form of an arrogant football coach and an ugly puppy.

Former celebrity college quarterback Jess McCoy dreamed of playing pro football. One freak hit destroyed his chances. Although he enjoys his work as the university’s offensive coordinator, his aspirations have shifted to coaching at the highest level. His plans of moving up are finally coming together—until he falls for a woman who won’t leave town

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Well, it appears browsing is not the way to go this morning afterall. I requested clean. That’s not what was offered so I gave up the search. The usual sources were dry this morning too.

I do have seven or eight read-and-enjoyed to share, in another post though. Removing those will reduce my Kindle book list by one page. Currently the list on my device is up to 29 pages at eight books per page. That’s a little overwhelming, to say the least. I need a slow download day, or two, or three to keep ahead of things. I hope you have the same problem, a long to-be-read list. Maybe not as long as mine.  It would be a sign you are finding a wealth of books catching your interest and I’ve done my job. My self imposed job of  spreading a passion for reading good books.

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I’m currently reading Dakota Peace and it is still FREE. I’m almost half way through. The first part is good and I was hopeful but now it is on a downhill slide. It is becoming predictable, light on story and heavy on fluff scenes. Disappointing. I’ll hurry through but will make sure to see how it ends.

Dakota Peace

Amazon quote:

After a traumatic call, emergency dispatcher Natalia Brynner flees the city, desperate for some distance from her stressful life. Her peace is short lived when a flat tire strands her on the other side of South Dakota with nothing but her high heels and a speeding ticket. State Trooper Travis Wilkins offers to keep her company while she waits for a new tire, but the quick fix turns into an overnight visit which turns into an extended stay.

She soon finds herself in the middle of a foster child’s kidnapping case helping the handsome law man. His presence doesn’t quite settle her anxious heart. With the support of her new friends and her blossoming relationship, Natalia starts to believe she could finally experience a peaceful life … until an armed madman threatens it all.

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Later … for the new read-and-enjoyed list.

Happy Reading!

 

 

Another FREE book February 13, 2020

I missed one, BookRunes had a FREE suggestion this morning too.

Maybe it’s a good thing I missed it. It heads off in a much different direction from the rest of this morning’s offerings. Maybe it deserves the attention of it’s own post.

Beggars Daughter is a true story based on one woman’s life, sharing her struggle with a difficult but very real subject.

Beggars Daughter

Amazon quote:

If you think pornography is just a “guy thing” you would be wrong.

Jessica Harris was 13 years old when she was exposed to pornography. After four years, her use was out of control and when she went to find help, it became apparent that this wasn’t a thing many women do. All of the resources were for men, and when she got caught, she was told “Women don’t have this problem.” That sent her on a downward spiral and nearly landed her in the adult industry.

Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen. Instead, she found freedom, hope, healing and worth in the love and grace of God.

Beggar’s Daughter is a candid look into her story, how she struggled and eventually how God set her free. It is a narrative on grace suitable for the women who struggle and those who want to understand them. Through it all, the message is that no woman is ever beyond the grace of God.

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