Saturday, August 7, 2010


Each little victory over shame deserves a trumpet blare.

A few months ago, a very old friend who became entangled in my abuse story contacted me through facebook. My heart raced.

For years I had traveled back to my home town, always fearing who I would meet. The shame I carried was so encompassing that I was nauseas at the thought of running into those who knew my "secret". But this time, contact came easier. I reached out to a few others who I found on her friend list. Some seemed glad to hear from me, others not. One had forgotten I existed.

These reconnections have given me the opportunity to find my identity in the present and not in the past. And, I have done it!

I have fought so hard for this freedom. I never really believed I could get here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Leaving It Behind

"Leaving It Behind" was a constant nudging from Stephen during my year + of therapy. I saw myself through the abuse. It was a large part of my identity. Being unfinished business, I was driven to tell others about it in order to receive the acceptance I could not give myself. Years ago I hid it, out of shame, but the wound finally burst open and it became something I HAD to talk about to those closest to me. As 10 years of therapy progressed the need to receive other's acceptance decreased.

This blog was started out of a need to be heard. At first I emptied my soul. Over time, the drivenness decreased and writing became an obligation. My posts have become less because my need is less. Thus I have written little of my time with Stephen.

The reason I worked with Stephen was his "pastoral" label. I needed to finish up with a pastor and Stephen was the one - though I had a hard time at first convincing him of that. My fiasco with Paul, my persistence, and my belief God had sent me to him finally convinced Stephen to make the time to see me on an extended basis. The very fact that I could persist and not crumble at his reticence to extend himself further in an already busy schedule, signaled an inner strength I had gained through years of work.

Stephen's nudging to "leave it behind" directed my thoughts toward a life in which my identity was found in the present. That is how God sees us. Like taking off a thick and heavy coat, allowing it to fall to the ground, and walking forward lightly clad in the warmth of God's present day; I have left behind my old identity.

New wine. New wine skins.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Staying Present

I ended my therapy with Stephen - both a time for celebration and grief. Trusting my gut, I feel finished for now. Not having written a lot during this year of working with him, I thought it would be good to jot down a few of the important things I learned. Some of these are "staying present", "it is all about relationship", "living life to it fullest honors God," "calling on mercy" and "leaving it behind".

Perhaps, the most impacting lesson was "staying present". Focusing on the actual moment I am living reduces my stress when anxiety hits. Staying present also allows me to avoid mental journeys to places I do not want to go. At first this was a very difficult idea to practice. My mind chose to do anything but to stay in the immediate.

Growing up, I used my imagination to meet many of my emotional needs. I continued to do so in my adult life, if not to the same extent. These journeys into the worlds I created became an escape from the present and a place that soothed me inside. They always involved authority figures and my interactions with them. Many times it involved sexual dynamics of acceptance and desire. These journeys became an addiction.

With abuse came another expression of this addiction. A longing seemed to explode up and out of me whenever I related to anyone in an authority position. This longing for attention.......approval........acceptance......recognition ruled my internal life. The hunger was intense. It was tormenting. I feared I would do something, anything to satiate my hunger.

In my early years of therapy, the addiction to this authority approval, governed my thoughts 90% of my free time. Since I was back in college, studying took over a hunk of my thoughts and was my one place of relief. No wonder I made A's. The rest of my mental energy involved relating to my therapist, Cheryl. I was enamored with her. I fell in love with her. I thought constantly about her. I was the child in love with the mother. Years passed and with therapy the addiction decreased. I grew up - more slowly than I wished - and little by little thoughts tended to stick less on authority figures. But, it wasn't gone.

Stephen called it an addiction. I had called it that with previous therapists but no one else had. Stephen named it but didn't judge it. It was a fact and we talked about it as such - always with God's grace and love surrounding it. Naming it was the first step towards freedom.

Staying present fights the addiction when it begins to rumble inside. Having found that safe place inside of me, focusing on the present and "going home" to that safe place breaks the urge to run to imaginings. When I feel drawn to authority and my thoughts long to go there, I focus on the present - what I have, who I am, where I am, what I am doing.

Learning to stay present was the first strategy Stephen offered me. Interestingly, staying present is not something he was taught, but something he stumbled on in his own struggles in life. A pearl he learned and offered me. A pearl that has helped set me free.

Monday, May 31, 2010

A Safe Place

Several months ago, as I was reading The Shack and dealing once again with my shame, it suddenly dawned on me that I was not a mistake. There was nothing wrong with me. As I stumbled upon the truth (once again), I was overcome with an unbelievable peace.

"There is nothing wrong with me!"

That is really not true on the every day level, but I meant it from the sense of my being-ness. I am who I am and there is nothing wrong with me as a person. I have always believed there was a critical flaw in my "being". I was mistake. "There is something wrong with me," has rung throughout my head whenever conflict in life found me.

Abuse left the branding seal on that lie. I have dealt with layer beneath layer of this false belief as I journeyed to the truth. What I have found in the truth is an amazing home inside of me where I am safe. I practice living in and out of this safe place. I invite the Holy Spirit to dwell there with me. And, I have found that my own brain can betray me and steal from me the safe retreat.

My mind has always created its own make believe world where I could find comfort, but it wasn't real and it lasted only as long of the imaginings. As I filled my dreams with being wanted by a man in leadership, someone looked up to and respected; my dopamine centers flooded me with comfort. My illicit thought life became my drug of choice.

I enjoyed my new found peace. Then life assaulted. Finding myself in a period of elevated anxiety, I leaned back into the dopamine filled fixes; only to discover that the make believe took from me the true safe place within me. I felt guilty for the thoughts that once again included my therapist. I tried to walk away from them but I hungered for the fix. I found it almost impossible to not return to my dream world even though I knew it was empty and just left me longing for more. I knew this internal battle was the battle of my life.
I shared my thoughts with my therapist. Stephen helped me to see that my make believe lives have been my way of coping with the internal anxiety, anxiety built upon the belief that there is something wrong with me. As I sought what I believed I needed, the dopamine centers in my brain released the fix. Comfort. So when comfort was not found in life and the infants internal axiety roared, I sought the fix.
"You will see the truth and the truth will set you free." Once again freedom comes with truth. Seeing it all as a chemical addiction has helped me walk away from the false and into the reality of my true self.