awaken memories

The past couple of weeks I have been experiencing very strong, vivid dreams and memories of my past when I was a little child, and it’s been incredibly hard to sit with these memories that have come to me in my sleep.

I have written before about “crying wake up’s” that I experience once in a while – dreaming and then waking up crying out of my sleep. Well, its happening again only now it’s happening along with very vivid and strong memories of my past.

The moment I wake up with a dream like this, I try and grab my phone’s notepad app to write down whatever I can remember to capture as much as I can! If I fall back asleep without writing the dream down, I will forget details.

I have had crying wake up’s before! I had had bad dreams before, but this is different, this is vivid, and they are strong and painful even. These dreams have been effecting me and my personal life and connection to self.

My therapist and I have been talking about them more in session and the meaning behind them and what the dreams/memories may be trying to tell me. We have spoken about it, I have written about it, I even talked with someone who knew a lot about dreams from those abused in the past, or from abuse survivors.

The dreams and the wake up’s are the inner young child’s way of telling a story she holds! Sometimes when we work on healing for so long, the inner child begins to trust more, she begins to step away from the wall just enough to let images be visible from the young child’s perspective. My inner child is telling me a story of the past that needs my voice, needs healing, needs to be spoken for her to move on, and grow up to be the adult I am today.

I have been told many times that the inner child is stuck inside, and sometimes it takes years and years for the young inner child inside to finally be free and ready to accept the endured abuse and pain, and the story she holds to be told, to be felt, to be trusted!

I have been in therapy for ten years, and in these ten years, I have talked about my story many times in different ways. I have worked through a lot of the pain! I have worked through a lot of the images and the story behind my past. I have painfully stepped into my past.

But it’s different this time; I feel a different shift happening inside of me to where the young part of me feels present; particularly through these vivid, horrific, painful dreams.

These dreams feel so real like it’s happening all over again! It’s the closest I have been to the abuse since it has happened, and it’s scary and painful in ways I cannot describe.

So what do I do with this? At times I am afraid to shut my eyes to sleep at night. My therapist knows what “I had a crying wake up” means and just how hard that is for me – – but that doesn’t even touch just how painful these wake up’s are or have been these past couple weeks.

My husband has even experienced me struggling in my sleep many times this past month, and he has seen just how horrible it has been for me. The crying wake up’s, the wincing in my sleep, the struggle to get out of the situation I am in during these dreams.

What I have come to realize and understand is, this is not something to hurt me all over again, but more so a way for the young inner child within me to speak and show me what she holds. It’s her way of saying “this is what I hold, this is what I remember – and she looks for healing.

But what about all the years I have talked about my past? What about all the hard work I have done so far in working with the images and stories of my past? I thought I was healing? Why is this happening now? Well, This IS the healing! This is the young part of me healing!

Finally, she has trusted to come out of the dark shadows within and show me, to use my voice to talk about “her” feelings and “her” pain.

We all have an inner child! For those abused as a child, that inner child is “stuck” and “silenced” and driven to fear out of being told for many years that she is not allowed to talk about it!

Me as the adult I am today, I have told the story! I have re-lived the old images of the past- but the young inner child wasn’t ready yet, she stayed dormant to the healing until trust could build just enough to come out from behind the walls.

As the healing has happened within me over the years, the young inner child has finally become awaken to my truth, to the trust of my therapist who holds the story. I have spent ten years showing up and showing her trust, love, and connection. The young inner child has awakened to that healing I have worked so hard through – and now that young wounded child is here – listening and ready to heal.

A physical wound heals from the inside out – An emotional wound heals from the outside in! Think about it, emotional healing begins on the outside and works its way inward, and deep within is that wounded, scared little child stuck, now ready to heal and speak and talk and even feel, and that is what I have realized is happening inside of me.

I spoke with someone recently who specializes in healing the inner child, and she said to me “Karen, you are healing, the dreams and the wakeups are not there to hurt you, but to show you.”

Difficult to think about isn’t it? Doesn’t make it any easier to shut my eyes before bed knowing I could be shown yet another image of my past that is painful or hard to see – – but if I can heal another wound on the little girl inside of me, it’s worth going through the pain again.

It took me years and years to believe that I have an inner child. I didn’t want to believe it! I struggled with the thought that if I admitted to having an inner child, that something was wrong with me. I feel differently now – I welcome this journey, and I embrace whatever the inner child wants to show me, because I know, from the outside in, she is healing.

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the powering in just being

tumblr_mm4w2oe4vj1s8rc3io1_400I have spent a lifetime hiding behind “true emotions” and putting up walls of okay-ness.

I have spent more time in my life putting on a fake front and swallowing the true emotions of how I really feel just to protect others around me.

I ask myself – What am I protecting them from? that is a good question, I don’t know, I only know that however I am feeling needs to be put away because I need to be strong and how I really feel doesn’t matter.

or so I thought …

This past weekend I have come to accept and realize that it’s more work to hide my feelings and put up a front, than it is just to BE however I am feeling and let it be known by those around me.

I have found myself crying on a whim this weekend and I was confused as to why, but after reading a very insightful and supportive email from my therapist tonight, I know why –  I’m allowing myself to BE and that is painful, yet healing!

My therapist and I talked about something very big in session Friday and I opened up some pretty big wounds; wounds that were deep yet insightful. Wounds that were GOOD to open up, but hard to clean out and sit with.

Imagine how painful it is to sit with an open wound that is not yet healed? well that is what this weekend was for me after a big but wonderful session that we had Friday.

I went out for a car ride 9:30pm Saturday night and I was SOBBING while trying to drive, and I thought to myself “what the HELL is going on?” “WHERE IS MY WALL?” … and I realized I was crying because I needed to cry, I was feeling because I needed to FEEL and maybe that was okay.

Healing is happening this weekend even though it doesn’t feel that way.

My therapist explained to me in an email tonight that it makes his heart smile to know I am having a hard time, not because he doesn’t care, but because he knows healing is happening in what we talked about Friday. healing is happening because I am finding my self-worth enough to let those feelings be known and felt.

He always tells me “feelings and emotions are information NOT emergencies”.

I opened up to my support this weekend and I found it to be so much easier to just be open about how I feel, than to hide behind those true emotions and put up walls of okay-ness.

I felt better as soon as I talked about it. I felt better when my support came back to me with a very supportive caring email filled with hope. My feelings were known instead of it being held in. I feel better NOW vs waiting days and days until I have the courage to talk about it.

There is a lot of power in just BEING in the moment.

It’s not an easy lesson to learn when all I know is to hide behind my true emotions and put on a strong front. It’s like walking against the current.. it will take time to learn that it’s okay to be in the moment of how I feel now, let it be known, talk about it and trust I am supported in the openness no matter how hard it is.

My therapist once told me a long time ago that people are more drawn to authentic emotions and someone who is struggling rather than someone who is hiding behind emotions always feeling they have to be strong. He said “it makes me want to help you more when you lean into those true authentic feelings because I know healing is happening”.

I think this weekend has been a moment that I allowed myself to just BE how I was feeling and I reached out in that. It didn’t feel good, but in the long run it will create space for me to be how I need to be instead of hiding behind walls of okay-ness.

ON this healing path I am on I am learning so much about myself I never have known before. Everyday is a challenge both painful and joyful, and this weekend I have really learned that it’s more work to NOT BE than it is to JUST BE and that is powerful – that is healing!

I am HEALING and it’s so okay to feel the way I feel.

I have a big week ahead of me in therapy.. a lot of things I am working hard on, and I hope that I find the strength to continue to be in FRONT of the wall instead of behind it.

I feel better tonight because I decided to get out from behind the wall of “STRONG” and the wall of “OKAY-NESS” and say “Hey I feel sad, I feel tearful, I feel hurt, and I need a little support tonight” and I got it, and I was reached back out to, and I feel better. I was met with care, love and support from my therapist who made me see this is healing and I feel better knowing someone understands.

Maybe there is something to just being. Maybe there is more power in just being than I ever thought .. and MAYBE I can accept that it doesn’t mean I am dependent  it just means I NEED support sometimes and that is OKAY.

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thoughts before bed . . .

One of my favorite things to do before bed is to pick a prayer from the bible and find meaning in it that pertains to my healing, and how I can grow and move through it with more strength.

Tonight, as I snuggled up in bed under the blankets, I picked up the “gather book” that I got from the church.

I read from Psalms which has always been my favorite of all readings in the bible, and what I read tonight was:

PSALMS 16:11 – You will show me the path to life. Fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.

My therapist connected with me later this afternoon/evening and we talked about what it would look like tomorrow to tear down the walls in the very moment, connect, and talk with no reservation. What path do I want for me, and how do I go about accepting those around me to make that happen?

I smiled, and it felt like an invitation to another part of my healing. When I cried earlier this morning in session, sometimes my therapist will smile, because he knows this is a part of the growth. This is where “I emerge” out of the sorrow and pain. This is where the path is lied out to me that God is helping me to see.

When I heard my therapist suggest what I open myself up to, I was fearful at first. How do I take down every BIT of wall, and open myself up to anything I want? I may have taken down walls in my healing, but I am not naked by any means.

I have walls that are still built, but they are small and short. They are short enough to walk over, but tall enough to notice they are there. What if I took everything away and allowed myself to open up to a place I have never been; a place where I protect NO ONE?!!

This took my breath away. I thought about it all night, and when I hung up with my therapist I was blessed and joyous! I was fearful, but it was not the fearful that I usually experience, it was an exciting fearful.

I sit here tonight and I read the Psalms reading. It brings so much light to my path. I go to bed tonight with hope, and assurance, and I feel worthy that maybe just maybe I can take it all down and know I am possible for growth in openness.

Sleep finds me tonight – with the grace of God building my path as I sleep, and I am confident it will be strong enough to walk on when I wake.

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“you can talk about anything”

“You can talk about anything”. Those 5 words are the words that my therapist reminds me of almost on a daily basis – through connection and support.

I have come to love those 5 words! I have come to accept those 5 words, I sometimes look forward to those 5 words, and better yet, I have learned to trust those 5 words.

When I hear those 5 words it gives me an opening to freedom I never had.

I was silenced as a child, I never thought I could open up about what was going on inside, or to talk about what was going on with me.

I spent my whole life with the message inside “don’t tell” or “you can’t talk about any of this” – Of course those words “you can talk about anything” were foreign to me.

My therapist would say it over and over, but those words hit a wall and bounced back to him. The wall was so strong that it was hard to believe those words without a fight to get there.

Earlier years in therapy those words “you can talk about anything” were just words with no meaning. I would speak the words of what was inside, but it was an action, not something I felt I could have or own as something that was mine.

One day, about a month ago before leaving session I finally got it, and accepted it! I turned around before leaving and said “I can talk to you about anything right?” I don’t think I ever saw a smile on his face as I did that day. It clicked, I got it, and better yet, wanted it.

Yes 5 years of therapy and you would think I got the message. I would talk, but not without a fight! I would talk about my past, but not without going through this chain of events called “anxiety”, or like we called it “the weight of silence”.

I would talk in therapy, but never thought I deserved to talk. I always felt as if I was doing something “bad” or “wrong” and it was gut wrenching to move through it.

Today, I finally get it! I know I can talk about anything! I know when I walk through those doors, and sit in my space, those 5 words apply – “You can talk about anything”.

I get chills now when I say it. It’s an open invitation to let out whatever it is I am holding. I don’t have to hold onto anything anymore.

I won’t lie, even knowing those 5 words still comes with it consequences and risks, and it’s painful at times, but I know it’s mine and I know I am fully supported in those words.

I know when I sit next to my therapist and open up, no matter how hard, painful, easy, joyful, heart wrenching or funny with laughter – a hand is there, compassion is there, an ear is there, wisdom is there, and hearing the words “ITS OK”.. and “You can talk about anything” is there.

I think back to my childhood and realize how isolated I really was. I held EVERYTHING inside! Everything is a lot for anyone to hold. Hearing those 5 words are the medicine to my soul!

Hearing those 5 words is like a “cup of self-love”. I am giving myself the self-love every time I honor those 5 words.

I have used those 5 words not only in therapy, but also to the people I am surrounded with. I know I can go to my priest or deacon and talk about anything. I know that I have friends who I hold close that I can just text or pick up the phone and say what I need to say. I am more open with my children and even GOD!

Other words that are followed by those words are “we will work it out” and “we will do what we do best, talk about it“.

Even writing those words it’s comforting! I have never had these options in my life before – it feels good and painful at the same time, but it’s always followed by some kind of relief; to not hold all that is inside.

When I need to reach out for connection, I hear and say to myself “you can talk about anything”… and it helps me to reach out when I need to. Sometimes I have to say the words a couple of times to remind myself of what is there for me – connection is there, I am worth it.

Today I needed to hear those words, and I did. I feel connected and I know that no matter how hard of a time I am going through, I have those 5 words. Those words are the key to my self-worth, self-love, and give me a gentle place to land; right into connection.

This is a part of my healing … towards myself, god, and everyone around me in the way that God intended me to be – free from the walls that used to bind me.

 

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the walls that once provided . . .

When I am dealing with too much than I can handle, I turn to old habits like building walls; emotional walls, like electric fences and barbwire’s!

Those walls served a great purpose in the past. It kept people out, and kept me from leaning in. It kept people at bay from me, and kept my emotions caved in.

It provided me a soft cusion, and kept me safe. It pushed even the good people away; while I survived it alone, day after day! The walls were the only thing I had my whole life.

Years of therapy has helped me take down all those walls! Many many walls have been taken down, and sometimes it can be scary.

I have now learned to think before building walls. My therapist always tells me “lean in” “reach out”, “connect” “you have support”. I have learned to turn to those things before building walls, but not without work and a lot of trust.

When things become too much inside like it has in the past couple of weeks; like things being thrown at me left and right – those are the times that old habits kick in, and I kick into survival mode, and I start slowly building!

I start building walls to not only protect myself from having emotions around it, but I also do it so that I don’t put burden onto others with all that I am holding inside that feels too much.

When it becomes too much inside for me at once, I start to think it’s too much for others; therefor I build walls.

When you have carried things your whole life on your own; you feel you have to do it alone. To hand it over to anyone else – it’s just too much for them, and then my self worth is on the line – and the rolling ball effect begins!

5 years of therapy, this technique of building walls is not working as well as it once did. Today was one of those moments that it just didn’t work, and for the first time, I noticed it, and started to “un-build” the walls as fast as I started to build them.

I went into session today with the walls already starting to be built just little. I have been holding a lot about my mom and other things that have been thrown at me that were least expected.

At first I felt myself becoming quiet, which is the start of the wall building. Then I started to get uncomfortable and that is the 2nd stage of wall building (giving myself a reason to build). Then I start to get defensive, which is the pushing away part of the wall building –  and slowly I actually felt myself doing it, and realized what it was I was doing!

I then got up, told Andy I needed a few moments alone, and went into the bathroom. I knew deep inside, I needed that space for a moment, and that it meant something.

I went into the bathroom, splashed cold water on my face, looked in the mirror and said “stop!” “no walls” “no silence” “lean in“. – “I am supported, I am cared for, and I dont need to do this alone! stop building the walls”.

I went back into the room, sat next to my therapist, and started talking, and talking and talking and talking and letting go for over 90 minutes straight! I broke down and let all my feelings, worries, concerns, burdens, grief, fears, and even some joys be let out into the room!

My therapist looked at me and said “do you know what you just did? You just stopped those walls from building, took control over it, and you right now, look as connected as I have seen you in weeks!

I realized today that those walls that once provided me relief, no longer provide me relief, but provide me more pain. If I had not broken down and talked about what I was carrying inside; my blog would be a whole different story today.

My blog would be about “holding” and “swallowing” what I have had inside since the weekend. I would have built walls and carried the grief about my mom alone. I would have tried to be strong and say “I can do this” when in real I CANNOT DO THIS ALONE! and I don’t have to!

Those old walls, made me do it alone, and slowly I am learning that I don’t have to do it alone! Each time I go through this little by little, I am learning that this is a journey filled with support, care and love – no walls are needed!

I don’t have to live behind the walls anymore, not even to protect others. Leaning in and reaching out for support when I need it is healing. I have said this before, but I am realizing that being weak, is almost powerful sometimes.

Much like Sunday, I am breathing today. I lifted the weight, I talked about it, I broke down, I had support, I had comfort, I had supporting words, and the best thing? I was told “you will get through this, and not alone”, and we figured it out!

I have a plan – we have a plan. I have ways to work around what is going on now. Things are slowly falling into place. I didn’t have to run home and retreat to figuring it out by myself, and there is no way that could have happened with walls.

I am grateful that today I saw what was happening. Just a year ago, I would have built those walls sky high to avoid the truth called emotions, and to protect others.

I am healing even when it hurts like hell, and that is good, because I know I will get through this – I don’t need any walls for me to see that.

I know that tonight, tomorrow, the next day and the days after that – no matter what – I have support to help me through this hump I am going through right now, and that is more powerful than ANY wall I can build.

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the courage to ask

I wasn’t sure if I was going to write about this or not. However, I have always said, “this blog is about healing, and it’s about truth; It’s about my journey going forward”.

Every entry I post is one step closer to my true self. Everyday I try and remind myself that every truth spoken, is another foothold to the next. So with that being said –

I faced a difficult question that has been pressing me for a very very long time. A question that I have been utterly afraid to ask and talk about; and know the answer to.

Saturday night my sister and I had a long talk on the phone (like I mentioned in my last blog entry yesterday). She called me at 12:30am, and just wanted to talk. I don’t know if that was Gods work, or if it was meant to be or not, but for some reason it landed in place as being the right moment.

My walls are down, I am not protecting anymore, I have shed the shame, and I am more and more open for truth. I know and feel that things are so different for me in my healing.

Me knowing that and feeling like I am at a new level – I felt I was ready to ask my sister the question I have been wondering about for a long long time.

The question I asked her was – “Danielle, Were you ever sexually abused or physically abused like I was?, did they hurt you too?”

I sat there with my heart in my throat, my face was flushed, and my heart was pounding through my chest! She said “NO, I was never abused like you were, I was never sexually abused either”.

I had this big sigh of relief and a big breath and tears came to my eyes, but at the same time this anger came over me inside. I wasn’t angry with her, I was just angry and confused, and anger is not something I honor at all, so its confusing for me when I feel anger! So I will swallow it, no matter how I feel.

I have always said that my sister was never abused, and I always had this notion in the back of my mind that somewhere, somehow she was beaten like me; it couldn’t have just been me?! I think I tried to convince myself of that, but there was a part of me that had a feeling that she wasn’t. I just needed to hear the truth after all these years.

We talked more, and she started to open up about the things she saw happen to me. She witnessed a lot of the abuse done to me. The belts across the legs, the head being smashed into the counter 3 times, the nights where my father would drag me out of bed by my feet and getting the belt over and over and over. Danielle had seen a lot of things happen to me in that house, and I can’t imagine what that was like for her to hold.

I feel as if my sister and I broke the silence we had with each other about what happened in this family. I think the both of us were afraid to talk to each other about what we knew and what we were afraid to know. She was afraid to talk about what she saw, and I was afraid to ask her the question; I was afraid of the answer.

On my way to church Sunday morning, I was trying to keep in mind the text that my therapist sent me Sunday morning – “rest in the weakness”, “gathering strength to move forward”.

No matter how supported and connected I felt – out of nowhere I started SOBBING on my way to church. It hit me out of no where and the words that came out in the car  – “Why? Why was I the only one?” I dont understand why I was the only one!

I was crying so hard I couldn’t even see the road in front of me. My heart was broken, I was so sad that a little girl was beaten and sexually abused, but my sister was cared for.

You can imagine what was going through my head. I felt my heart was broken. I have never felt sadness like that before. It was a TRUE TRUE sadness of reality. 4 people in the house abused me, but my sister was unscathed?!!

During Mass I felt so horrible that I almost walked out. I couldn’t sit there and honor this – but I did, I sat with it and honred it and finished the mass, because if I had left, that would be like “them winning” all over again.

Everything that my sister and I talked about Saturday night was all hitting me at once. It was almost as if the Novocain wore off, and I was feeling everything! “The big question was finally asked”. “The truth is finally known”.

After church, I emailed my therapist and checked in like we do. I explained to him how I asked my sister that very hard question, and I was open about my feelings, told him how much it hurt!

I was told that this took a TON of courage to ask her. The fact that I asked her showed that I was ready to hear the answer. The fact that I asked the question showed that I am stronger, and that I was finally ready to hear the truth. I was ready to honor the feelings about that unknown truth. The best part? I stayed connected through this.

I sit here this morning and I realize it did take a lot of courage. It hurts like hell. But I know that it’s healing, and I know it’s growth, and I know that by asking her, I was opening up another wound to heal.

I don’t understand the question – why me?. I don’t understand why my sister was unscathed, and I was tormented and abused. I don’t understand why I have 42 scars on my body, and she has none. I don’t have the answers, but the only answer that I do have is – IT WAS NOT MY FAULT! The power that I do have is knowing that it was 4 people against one, and it was never my fault.

I love my sister so much, I love her so so much! I am so glad that she never had to endure what I did. I am so glad that she doesn’t suffer today in healing like I have to. I am so happy inside that her answer was “no”.

I cried a lot yesterday. I had tears through the day. I have tears right now writing this – and I will probably have tears about it until the sting goes away, but I am glad after all these years that I was finally ready to hear the truth.

I am ready to face the feelings I have inside about this; so this too can be another wound healed.

I may have been the only one in the house who was abused then, but today, I am the only one in the house who is healing and who is healthy!

(THE PHOTO ABOVE ON THE LEFT IS A PHOTO OF ME AND MY SISTER DANIELLE)

I was 9 and she was 4

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