Bellatrix – Female Warrior

I recently traveled to meet a sister survivor who has become a friend. There was an art studio tour while I was there, and art being her passion, we headed out for a day of culture and beauty. She lives near where the “Camp Fire” happened in Paradise, CA. Having experienced her own house fire three months prior to the Camp Fire, she knew the heartache the survivors were experiencing.

One studio was the home of a talented artist who works with multiple mediums, sculpture, paint, collage, etc. She too had lost everything in the Camp Fire. Imagine, as an artist, losing all of your precious creations, along with everything you use to create them. She was devastated. When she went back to the site of her desolated home, she told a friend she wanted nothing from the heaps of ash. This friend encouraged her to gather some pieces to begin to create new art. Together they found several charred and what to the average eye would seem worthless pieces of unsalvageable trash. Included in this were pieces of melted and twisted glass from her windows, along with the melted aluminum frames. From this “worthless trash” Bellatrix, and several other angels, were born. She named the series, Angels Rising, as they were beautifully created from the ugliness of the broken, melted, and twisted pieces found in the ash. Of course it captured my heart and felt perfect for my blog. Even her hair is very similar to mine.

There is a sticker on the back of the angel I chose that reads, Bellatrix – female warrior. Like the many other leaders and members of the Survivor’s Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), I too am a warrior. I advocate for sexual abuse survivors. I engage in advocacy, activism, interviews, and I lead support groups and guided meditations. My passion is that every abuse survivor receives healing and is heard if they want to be; and that those in authority open their eyes to the evil among us. It is painful and exhausting work…and I cannot imagine doing anything else. Warriors in this field are often wounded in the battle and must retreat for awhile to heal and rest, lest we succumb to our wounds.

Nine years ago I was raped by a stranger. My therapist was in Hawaii and she knows I absolutely adore sea turtles. I sometimes use the image of swimming with them as my safe place. She was hesitant to give me the turtle because the right flipper broke during travel. I explained to her that I was feeling so unsafe even my sea turtles were being destroyed when I tried to image them in my mind. This description encouraged her to give me the broken turtle. The turtle is so small it fits delicately in my hand. The fact the turtle is a baby broke my heart for its wounding and gave me a strong desire to heal it. I very carefully glued the fragile flipper back together, held it until the glue adhered, and re-stained it to hide the brokenness. It is barely perceptible now.

I tell you about this turtle because I had to travel from CA to WA for a training, and then back home. I wrapped Bellatrix very diligently in several inches of bubblewrap, knowing her wings were extremely fragile. I surrounded this bubbled mass in my softest clothing to protect it from careless baggage handlers. I used the utmost caution while unwrapping her when I finally arrived home. Her right wing had broken off, and while saddened, I was also pleasantly surprised it was all that broke off this glass sculpture. Bellatrix had now become a wounded warrior, like me, like so many others who carry the message of hope and encouragement to fellow survivors. It is interesting to me both symbols of my journey were broken on the right side, as the majority of my somatic (body) symptoms are also on the right. My memories remind me the predators most often approached my body from the right side, and my body remembers. And my turtle and my angel bear witness.

I am sure one day I will take the same delicate care to heal the fragile wing of this angel that I took with the fragile flipper of the turtle. Today she is a reminder of the cost of this battle, and the need for self care. Like the turtle and the angel, I will always carry the scars of the abuse, the trauma, the agonizingly long journey toward healing, and the war where I choose to do battle. It tears my heart every time I hear another story about a child, or adult child, who was broken by evil and selfish perpetrators. I am angered and raise my sword every time the story ends with healing and justice denied by those who would choose to cover up for predators, allowing untold numbers of other children to be broken. Our battle scars may not always be visible, but they will always be there, even when healed with great care and attention.

I dedicate this piece to a sister warrior who is learning how wounding and exhausting this work can be, yet she never gives up. Battle after battle she literally sacrifices her voice and her health to support and lift up others, bringing attention to the damage evil men and women can inflict. This warrior writes publicly on Face Book under the pseudonym PK Hill. I encourage you to read her stories, she is very talented, and very committed, despite being very wounded…which makes her very brave!

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Healing Together

…is the way we receive the most help. This book provides tools everyone should have available, whether you are a survivor or someone discloses to you. #HealingTogetherBook

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Honoring Tears

As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me. Psalm 40:11-12 ESV

My past does indeed encompass many evils, a truth for the majority of child sexual abuse (CSA) survivors. Children are chosen and groomed sometimes for convenience, and sometimes the abuser sees brokenness and exploits that child. Once a child has been abused, it is like a bright red bullseye has been tattooed on their body and subsequent abusers aim for the same target. CSA so breaks boundaries that a victim has no gauge for safe and unsafe people and will continue to be abused, attacked, assaulted, until they find a solid trauma informed therapist and experience a good amount of healing.

I have recently been more in tune with the natural grief process that needs to happen for this kind of healing. Contemplation and stillness have been an important piece of this because one needs to understand the losses they are grieving. There are times reflection of this type has caused me to feel a deep aching sorrow. Other times I feel lost and alone, and still other times I have felt the joy of reconnection to parts of me dissociated for survival. Whatever the emotion, I have given permission to the tears they produce. When this healing journey began, my tears had long been clamped off by brutal trainings before I could even walk.  A safe healing place and a growing number of safe people, along with a LOT of hard work, have re-established the flow like a giant wrench on a rusty spigot.

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 NLT

Tears from grief are sacred. The warm, salty droplets reveal the broken place from where they seep. God honors and record tears. I now choose to honor my tears, no longer fighting them in shame. Tears can produce a knowing, a chance to acknowledge how agonizing or difficult a situation truly was. Tears can be cleansing, toxic shame emancipated from the prison walls built by brainwashing. Tears can be comforting, the silent stream bringing calm after a storm. Always, tears are a message.

This particular grieving process, for me, is intensely personal. Whether I weep until I can no longer stand, or a solitary tear sneaks out at an unexpected moment, I now allow them their voice, their space in a time far removed from the time they were created. I give them the respect they have been craving as they desperately tried to tell their story for decades. I know the tears were generated by anguish. I now accept the breaking, the violating, the abuse was not my fault. I was not bad as the monsters professed. What they did to me was absolutely bad, it was horrific, so I also accept this aching sorrow the contemplation brings.

Wherever I am when a tear comes, I place a hand on my heart and take at least a moment to mourn for the child who endured the nightmare. I extend compassion to my wounded self  because compassion is what I needed and deserved when I was being raped and traumatized, and it is what I need and deserve today for surviving. Each tear I release makes my heart a little lighter. I have hope that like a child’s pool in the sun, eventually most of these tears will dry up and what will be left will be only a necessary few… reminders sparkling like diamonds reflecting the light of a life restored from darkness.

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Can You Find Me?

Do you care? We all desire to be known. As a trauma survivor, I flip between desperately wanting you to see me, really see me, and wishing I had the power of invisibility. What if you really knew me?

For the last several months I have been at odds with my therapist of eleven years. Other than God, she sees me and knows me more than anyone else. That knowledge makes this pain incredible. I believe that if she knows me, she would know the things she said could be extremely hurtful. She called it a calculated risk. Her calculation failed and the pain went so deep I could not find a way to excavate it and set it free. It came on top of another deep wounding on her part, which allowed this one a straight and unobstructed shot to my heart. The blood was dripping, now it forms a pool around every thought of returning to therapy.

I have worked hard to figure it all out, make it okay again, as I sloshed around with the festering wound. I did meditation. I talked to friends. I prayed. I read. Surrendering to my inefficacy, I sought help from another therapist. Finally, I had a remarkable vision which would serve to mend the damage like a mother’s quick stitches of her son’s trousers as he runs late to school. I anxiously returned to my main therapist to share this enlightened moment, and it went well. I followed up the next day with a thank you letter, for patience, for hearing me, for the apology I deserved. And she responded…with another thrust of the sword. Like the boy whose hastily mended jeans would soon burst open, my wound gushed with vigor until I lay dazed, confused, and in incredible pain.

It would take a week for me to even speak of the incident as I tried to get any traction on the slimly viscous fluid which continued to pump out of my body, draining all my energy and clarity. Unlike my quiet, non-confrontational “good girl” part, I found my voice and explained in detail what her words continued to do to me. She graciously listened and responded, ending with, I will wait to hear from you. I thanked her again for hearing me and explained that I didn’t know what to do with all the confusion and pain. I received an email full of psycho babble which ended with, I will wait to hear from you. The letter tasted bitter like the pith of a lemon which is followed by the sting of the juice when it reaches a forgotten canker sore. I waited a week and sent a text emoji which was answered with another. I am not a trained professional, and I didn’t know how to mend this again, the edges were too tattered to hold a stitch. I was trying to trust her knowledge, and hoped eventually she would reach out, after all she had “heard from me” three times.

After nearly two weeks, a YouTube entitled “Necessary Endings” came across my notifications. I took this as a sign, a message from God, and I immediately listened and agreed. This is probably a necessary ending. After eleven years of her seeing me as though I was naked before her, overcoming this will require grieving. We have bound up wounds together, painfully scraped old dead tissue, used surgical grafts as required, and applied endless antibiotics on stubborn infections which would long defy healing. I have incredible gratitude for her perseverance, treatment has made me stronger and more resilient, and I am finding my voice again.

This morning a message keeps looping in my mind, can you find me? At the heart center, this translates to, do you care? She told me she loves me (I won’t even get into how difficult that made my therapeutic life) so why can’t she find me?

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Fresh Start

Here I am SIX years later. I honestly felt it had been three or four. So much has happened. So much pain. So much grief. So much healing. So much growth. I want to start fresh with new courage, fresh writing, more vulnerability, and hopefully more words of hope and healing.

Truthfully, I am going to have to learn WordPress all over again and will appreciate everyone’s patience while this happens.

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