In Lack of Control & The Miracles that Followed

One primary persona of mine is to walk with confidence and appear to be “calm and under control;” the emotions pour out later. In this “mode,” I can hear my father’s mantra to be “calm, cool and collected” reverberating in my cranium. Recently, that persona broke wide the eff open for me. While it’s been an ongoing process of chipping away at this persona, on this particular day I had a very significant breakthrough.

My son was having an escalating series of temper tantrums. My attempt to control the situation and de-escalate it was only causing further … escalation. Based on a recent read of the book, Dark Side of the Light Chasers, by Debbie Ford, I saw where my need to seem in control was a direct result of my feeling that I lacked control. Literally, a light went off in one of the deepest (and darkest?) recesses of my mind. Once I affirmed that I was, indeed, not in control, I surrendered to my higher power and asked for guidance. I spoke to this event in the post Learning to be Secure.

The M.O. from the Past

In trying to prove to myself and to the world that Tiffany had it under control, I hid where I was not under control. Or tried to. I have had an emotional eating addiction for … probably my whole life. This is one of the ways that I both punish myself for my feelings (eating ’til it hurts) and then hide my feelings by stuffing my emotions down, down, down…

In trying to prove to the world that I had it under control, I learned to smile and put on a good game face; well kinda. One practitioner poignantly described me as being “zippered up.” Yet the muscles of my body reveal my guarded and “under control” tendency. Even with regular massages, I have held onto a great deal of tension; more than most.

In trying to prove to the world that I had it under control, I would attempt to control myself, my environment and … even those in it. Wow! That last one is a challenge to admit. Yet, as a physical therapist I develop (and control) treatment plans everyday. What a great profession to be in for someone who secretly wants to control everything and everyone… understand, I believed it was an act of self-preservation, not mind-control.

Where & why the control most likely started

This control is not so much about power for the sake of power, it’s more about my feeling safe. As a child, I was in situations where I was abused by “trusting” adults who manipulated and controlled me. From this, I believed that my body was not safe, that I had to control others – and myself – to be safe. From this abuse, I also didn’t believe I could trust people; especially those who were meant to protect me. Further more, I felt effing powerless, and hence the cycle starts over, feeding into itself. So for me, being in control has meant that it was harder for someone else to harm me.

Back to the Breakthrough

Yet on this fateful day, I chose differently. In recognizing my lack of control and giving up control to my higher power, I received greater clarity in everyday things. This has helped me to make wiser choices. The irony! Instead of being ruled by my fear of loss of control, I’m seeing that I have little control outside of my own choices, and now my choices are more clear, thus giving me …. more control! Yet in a different way, in that the control factor is no longer based in fear.

It is my hope that in sharing, you will find a greater understanding about yourself or perhaps a “control freak” that is in your life. The more we can understand and have compassion, the less turbulence we each create in our world.

May we each find a greater sense of peace in better understanding ourselves and others. 

Namaste

The humility of forgiveness 

 

In my heart space within meditation,
all I could see was her face
suddenly appearing just in front of mine
without warning; a surprise.

My loving & innocent inner child was the first to respond
hugging her and loving her maternal energy.
Soon the wounded side of me woke up,
attempted to buck, but the innocent lamb had already won.

In just a few moments, memories flashed through my mind’s drive.
The steamy hot shower after she found me
his sins upon my skin. She tried to wash away the shame
it was me who wanted to go down the drain.

The adult me felt the pain of her suffering:
the uncertainty, the fears, her tears.
Through my own suffering of such things
I could now understand her pain.

This did not change who was chosen as
the sacrificial lamb in this scenario.
The blood of my innocence still shed to this
day in the tears rolling down my cheeks in many ways.

She feared then many of the things I fear today.
In that moment of recognition I was able to forgive her.
I then brought him in, his face less clear as if
through a blurry lens. I forgave him too.

On a roll, I brought in others who have in similar
situations tried to take of my blood. My innocence. My trust,
a pound of my flesh for their lust.
The names too long to list…

After each in line was given some time
in the warmth of my forgiveness.
I asked the void, “Now who else?”
The last to be forgiven?

Myself.

Namaste & Metta. Please, let’s make this world a better place! Learn to forgive others & yourself

img_2670

 

Why I didn’t run, though I wanted to…

Trigger warning for sexual abuse and assault survivors. 

A few weeks ago, I started back to online dating. It was the third “date” with one man and I was still feeling ambivalent about where I saw things with him. So  prior to said date I messaged him that I was “not ready for more than kissing and cuddling.” He said he understood. I believed him. 

On said date, there was so much more that occurred. In some ways my body responded and in other ways I shutdown. My mind screamed from within to get out. To leave to run. No, I don’t want this and not with him. Yet parts of me also enjoyed the attention. This seems counterintuitive to many, yes, I understand. It did to me at first as well. 

In my state of cognitive dissonance, I was internally frozen. I chose to stay and play along rather than run and risk being completely overwhelmed by him. At least in going along I was able to feel at least a little bit in control. To run I risked being overwhelmed, which I knew from experience would lead me to being frozen and unable to move. 

Yes, in the beginning things were enjoyable and I allowed things to go too far. One boundary after another fell and before I knew it I was in my own living hell. 

You’d think at my age I’d have this down. You’d think at my level in life I’d not be so naive and trusting. Or maybe these are the things I think. In the end, another layer of my childhood came up this week to be healed. I used this heart meditation to see and love the little girl who was harmed when she tried to fight back, when she tried to run. 

The next day, he wrote and wished me a good day. Several hours later I was able to respond and this is what I said:

My day had a rough start, but ended better. I had a tough time with last night… I had hoped we would talk about sex before trying to have it. There was a lot of conflict for me as part of me wanted to stay and part of me didn’t. I wasn’t ready to go as far as we did. I realize this may be hard to understand but sometimes sexual abuse survivors can respond in contradictory ways. For me, it means that I go along with some things I don’t necessarily want to because I’m more afraid of fighting and being hurt than if I just went along. So while part of me was aroused, part of me was also afraid. 

He apologized for putting me in that situation. I saw where he might also be suffering on that day, for at least from what he had said beforehand, he saw women in his life suffer at the hands of other men. 


Metta to those who have suffered and also to those who caused that suffering.  Until survivors and perpetrators of harm can heal their inner conflicts, these things will continue to happen. 

Namaste 

See also obligatory sex.

Reclaiming Our Bodies

This is how it feels to become disconnected from one’s body during a traumatic event. Many are familiar with the “fight or flight” response. There is also a “freezing” of the body that occurs when one feels death is imminent. Some believe this is a way to not experience pain during death. Survivors are then left to wonder why they did not fight when the body went to sleep and froze, against their will.

Please take the time to read this courageous and beautifully told story of one woman’s loss of and then reclaiming of her own body.

 

 

See a girl below you on a bed, her dress red just like yours, her yellow hair in a pixie cut, just like yours. You will notice ash on her sleeve. You will view all this from your balloon perch on the ceiling. Glance back at the girl, you’ll see a zombie: mouth agape, arms glued to her sides, body frozen in place, eyes focused on a distant world. The big boy with the dark hair is there, his hands ripping her zipper.

via The Alpha and Omega of The Out of Body Girl by Joyce Hayden — Dear Hope

Obligatory Sex

Trigger warning for survivors and cosurvivors of sexual abuse or assault. 

As a physical therapist who works with (mostly) women with pelvic pain and dysfunction, I am reading “Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life” by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D.

Many of my clients either cannot have sex at all or at least not without pain. Pain during sex is NOT normal. I don’t give a damn what your GYNs may say. They’re wrong. 

So I teach my clients relaxation techniques that are similar to mediation. I teach them how to breathe (so many don’t), how to contract their muscles (many don’t properly) and how to get back in touch with their bodies, literally and figuratively. Many of them are sexual abuse and/or assault survivors.

It helps them when I share that I, too, use to have pain with sex, with pelvic exams and with tampon use. I also often share that I, too, was sexually abused.

I explain to them the anatomy and physiology of arousal. Many are surprised to know that, for the most part, arousal is blocked when we are stressed. Past negative sexual experiences can affect our current sexual experiences as well. Even when we feel safe.  Even when we feel love towards our current partners. Even when we want to have sex with them.

So, here I am, reading this book knowing these things and I’m hit with a concept I had never considered. I’ve had sex, more often than I’d care to admit, out of obligation and fear of assault than out of desire. I threw up a little in my mouth with this awareness. 

Yes, I just said that. Me. A sexually liberated woman has had sex when she didn’t really want to. And she didn’t fight it because she was more afraid of being raped than she was of being (out of obligation) consenting.

Yeah, Holy (insert explicitive) Cow, Batman! Seems I need a superhero to save me from myself. 

I’m counting and only 2:5 men I’ve had sex with were truly consensual on my part. The rest were obligatory. I feared my survival or that they would force me. So I didn’t stop them. That’s not consent.

In having experienced the “freeze response” with the loss of bodily control in the face of imminent danger (think possum), I preferred to allow men to do what they needed without putting on the brakes in fear they would then try to force it.

2:5 only includes men who had sex with me. This does not include those who kissed me when I didn’t want or touched me in ways I didn’t want. So that ratio would look worse if I included men with whom I had sexual encounters that did not end with sex. That’s a more challenging figure to calculate.

Dogs are given to chase if the cat runs. I calculated my risks and determined it was better to not run…for risk of also freezing and losing all control.

I wish I could say never again. This is my hope, of course, and awareness is the first step to change.

So now I go about allowing myself to feel shame so that I can allow myself to forgive myself, thus reducing my likelihood of repeating this pattern. I used the tools I’ve listed below to help me through the tough parts.

This was a huge pill to swallow. Yet I see where I repeated this pattern and where I shamed myself for it afterwards. This has blocked me from being more open and intimate. Now I choose to let it all move through and away from me.

It is my hope that I can pass less shame onto my children with this work that I am doing here. May they never have to experience this, nor be the perpetuation of it either.

Techniques to clear emotions:

Image: Google

Blame

A head game

One misstep 

Begins head trip

Where

No one wins

Beast awakens

Blood-thirsty

Eyes set on me

Whips

Chains

Self-flagellation

Castigation

Pronation

Loss of vision

Flesh ripping 

Burning 

Bleeding

Conceding 

Little girl

Blamed

For sins 

Upon own flesh

By grown men

No one wins

Where 

Head trip begins 

One misstep

A head game

Blame

~~~

2016.03.01

Image Google

Escaping My Story

dissociative amnesia is considered a mental illness. for me, I consider it a blessing. For without dissociating sexual trauma, I would have lost my mind. For the very people who were my protectors abused me over many years at an age before I knew my full name, much less how to spell it. for over thirty years I lived in constant fear and anxiety, the source of which remained mostly blind to me. Some could see the symptoms of sexual trauma & PTSD; only those who paid attention closely though. I often hid as much as I could in self-protection; my M.O. was to be invisible as much as possible

 

I wanted to be anywhere,
but here.
This is not happening,
roll away,
get away.
Fight with all you’ve got: nothing.
When the body cannot escape it,
the mind does.

I see myself playing
outside in the yard.
Another sunny day.
My body left behind,
defenseless yet with
some feelings of bliss?

Learning now not
to trust my body,
bliss during this?!

~~~

Memories long forgotten,
suppressed,
repressed.
My mind was safer
than my body.
Escape my means to
survive this hell.

This escape proved
to be effective in
times of complete
loss of control.
It happened so much,
sometimes I forgot the way home.

~~~

I spent most of my life
wishing I could not be seen.
Early budding breasts,
I wanted to hide.
Flesh that brought attention
by prying eyes.
In their gaze, I only felt
the shame.

Middle school brought
a new discovery on Halloween.
Dressed as a Beatnik,
I discovered the comfort
of wearing all black.
Practicing playing the Cello
at lunch time to avoid
the students, who drove me back.

High school brought
the black leather jacket,
the combat boots.

Listening to everyone’s woes
about their home lives;
not understanding why my
suffering was so deep.

The truth I hid so well,
I hid it from myself.
Hiding my accomplishments,
hiding my grades,
hiding behind my black armor.

So many then thought I was a lesbian,
looking back it was a kind of security.
I preferred to chase than to be chased.

College brought a return of color
to my wardrobe.  Slowly,
at first I felt so vulnerable
without all of my armor.
Broomstick skirts,
bra-less in thin white t-shirts.
Starting to feel ok in my
sexuality. But only a little;
still wearing the black leather jacket:
my protection.

I still chased the boys,
fading from view from those
who showed interest.

~~~

I could wear a mask.
I could pretend to be happy.
Beneath it all, I was
suffering, silently.
Years of counseling to
raise my self-esteem.
All alone in my suffering.

Strong feelings,
I would suppress.
And like anything pushed back,
held back for too long,
upheaval can be unleashed
with seemingly little provocation.
It was all a mystery to me.

Eventually, when sexual abuse
of my niece was suspected,
I sought the help of a hypnotherapist
to uncover the reasons why I wore
my niece’s suffering as if it were
my own, never able to disrobe it.

The jars in the sand were part
of my healing visions in the
meditations that followed
the uncovering of the abuse.

The first memory was being
abused at four. Held down on the floor,
unable to get away, overpowered,
despite not wanting this,
I felt pleasure, some bliss.
I stopped going when memories
were younger than this.

Never would I have believed, even as a PT
that there would be any pleasure found
in being held down and abused so ruthlessly.
A nerve is a nerve, once stimulated it
will send the signals to the brain it is
programmed to send. Pleasure or pain,
to the nerve it senses and sends all the same.

It was with this memory that I knew it
was true. Locked deeply in my unconscious
before I knew what I had lost…dissociation
saved my life and my sanity,
schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder
my family’s proclivity.

~~~

Sleeping Beauty: Sexual Abuse

Mental Illness

Namaste
__/|\__ Ananda & Metta

2015.01.15

Image

 

Trust

In looking over the broken shards

Placed in jars,

A greater understanding comes over me.

It was simple to see where my

Lack of trust was born,

Oh so early.

To have submitted to his seduction and manipulation,

Before I could have known what was even happening,

nor what he was taking; my sweet innocence.

Dimming my light in an act of self-preservation as a teenager and adult,

I sought males who for me caused minimal intimidation,

Instead, their power was a passive-aggression,

Subverted manipulation.

Unable to trust a man to lead me,

Not even dancing at my own wedding.

Now I’m choosing oh so differently,

Seeking instead a man of steel will,

whose valor moves him through darkness,

who can respect and love all aspects of the divine feminine.

A man who can lead me:

a woman of mercury without being poisoned or made mad.

Come my lover, show me the path to trust.

Teach me, the dance of love that is more than mere lust.

~~~

Namaste

__/|\__Ananda & Metta

2016.02.16

Golden Jars Buried in the Sand

Revealed by sands time washed away.

Lining the shore are golden-lided jars.

Littered beaches in the star’s heart.

Riddled with broken memories; past traumas.

Filled with sharp shards; broken mirrors.

Buried in sand to protect memories.

Buried carefully and lovingly through toil.

Her hands were bloodied, broken, soiled.

Flesh worn thin from the undertaking.

The burial of so much sin.

Where, oh where, must she begin?

Time has come to live again.

The bells toll, her sorrow dies.

It is time now to love again.

For this she no longer cries.

Related: Where the Wild Roses Grow: A Story of Murder

2016.02.14

Namaste

__/|\__ Metta
Featured Image: Wayne from Cave of Fame

Thank you so much Wayne for this drawing! I couldn’t have done this justice. It’s beautiful and I can taste and smell the salty air, feel the breeze and sand between my toes. I can hear the gulls and water lapping the shore. Thank you for being part of this journey. Love to you in yours!

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