************************************Denial covers the pain of the past * A blanket over the world * Lift a corner * Don't be afraid * Your life awaits you*************************************

Monday, July 22, 2013


It's been almost a year since my therapist began to change the dynamic of our work.

For nearly five years she'd been answering my emails quite regularly. It is a lot to ask, much more than I ever would have expected from anyone before I came to know her. That connection brought more growth than I could have imagined was possible in a relatively short time. Because I didn't have to do it alone, I could handle much more of what was going on inside me as I walked the hard steps through my past. I needed to be there for my family - for my children. Without her near-constant presence,I believe hospitalization would have been necessary on more than one occasion - or I would have had to give up on the self-work completely.

Her commitment brought trust.
I trusted like a child.
I trusted in a way I'd never trusted when I actually was a child.
In many ways, it was this trust that helped me grow up through our work.

And then, the day came when she said I didn't need that kind of attention any longer.
In my mind, I heard, "I'm leaving."

I went through a months-long grieving process which seemed to be all about her, but was in reality about much more than our relationship. I was already months into this process when I wrote the story, "The Eagle and the Swan". I believe you can hear the pain I still felt as you read about Eagle finally flying on her own.

So, I've been letting go of the email connection with my therapist. If I really need a response from her, I have to ask for it. While I still see her for weekly sessions, the in-between interaction very gradually diminished.

It took eight months before I went an entire week without asking for any response. During that time, I wasn't able to work on much other than the growing up surrounding this difficult letting-go. I had to come to trust myself as I'd trusted her, and that was no easy matter.

And now, eleven months since this shift started, I have finally reached a point where I don't go to bed feeling sad every night. Maybe that sounds ridiculous to you, but that was the reality. I've cried more over this separation than I have over any childhood issue we've addressed.

I'm aware that a lot of my sadness was really about my childhood. I was grieving those things I needed as a child that my therapist gave so freely--specifically, unconditional love and acceptance.

 I always feel a disappointed in myself when I start thinking about asking for a reply to an email, but yesterday, I was feeling overwhelmed. I counted and found that it had been thirteen days since I'd last asked for a response. So, I wrote up my feelings and put, "Please Respond" in the subject line.
 And then I waited.
And checked.
And waited.
And checked.
I stayed up until 1:30 this morning. No reply came.

When I finally dragged myself up to bed, I sat down on the floor where I do my nightly self-check-in. I opened a journal and put pen to paper and immediately felt tears well up. I felt so angry at myself for crying but there was no stopping it.
It's ridiculous. 
I shouldn't need her. 
I am an adult. 
A capable adult.
I should not need her to be okay.

It was all I could do to keep from sending her another email asking what had happened. I knew if I did, I'd regret it. I knew my anger would find its way onto the page and in the morning I'd be filled with remorse. Instead, I poured my anger and grief and frustration into my journal. As I did so, a memory from when I was four years old popped up. As I saw the connection between the pain I felt at not receiving a reply and the old memory, my crying became more intense, but also more healing.

The memory:

There’s ghosts! 
I scream but they don’t go away! I scream and scream! I get out of my bed and run to Dana’s door and my head feels so big and full I think the ghosts are right inside me.
Dana's door is locked! I jiggle the doorknob and scream again. When she opens the door, I run in and right to her and grab hold of her legs and start crying.
“What are you doing?”
She doesn't sound right. My head is full of ghosts and it makes her voice sound really far away. I put my hands on my ears and squint in the dark. I say, “I don’t feel good.”  I take a big gaspy breath to make the crying stop.
“Are you gonna throw up?”
I didn't think of that. I hope I don't do that. “No.”
“You sure?”
I nod my head.  “My head hurts." It really feels giant but I don't say that. "And my ears hurt and my throat hurts. My everything hurts.”
“Come on,” she says and she takes my hand. We walk to Mommy and Daddy’s room and she knocks on their door. I can hear Daddy being grumpy but Mommy opens the door. I can only see her a little bit. It’s her hair and her shape and she’s right there but she seems far away. 
Everything is so far away.
Dana tells Mommy I was screaming.
“I don’t feel good,” I say and even my voice is far away. It’s like the whole world just left me here.
Mommy puts her hand on my forehead. “She’s burning up.”
I'm not really burning up. She just says that when I’m sick. It means she b’lieves me.
Mommy closes her bedroom door and picks me up even though I'm too big. Dana goes back in her room and closes her door. Mommy carries me to the bathroom. She closes that door, too. She turns on the light and now it’s so bright I can’t open my eyes. 
She sits me on the sink. It's cold but its not wet. I hear the cabinet open and then she says, "Under your tongue.”
I peek and open my mouth for the 'mometer.  After while, I can open my eyes a little more. Mommy smiles a really tired smile at me. There's a humming sound in my head but otherwise it's really quiet while we wait. Everything still seems pretty far away.
She takes the ‘mometer out of my mouth and looks at it. Then she opens the little bottle of yucky orange candy. I chew them up. They taste like sweet chalk at first and then the sweet part goes away.  It hurts my throat to swallow them and then I’m crying again. I don't usually cry and I feel so mad that I am and that makes me cry more. Maybe I’ll never stop.
Mommy wipes my face off with toilet paper and says shh and its okay.  I try to stop crying and then I think I make a funny face ‘cause she asks, “Are you going to throw up?”
I shake my head and I’m glad I’m not gonna throw up.
She stands me on the floor. “Come on.” She takes my hand and we walk back to my room.
Mommy tucks me in and she pushes the hair off my forehead. “You’ll feel better in a little bit,” she says. “Try to get some sleep.”
She turns off the light and then she starts to leave.
“Don’t leave!” I sit up and throw the covers off and everything feels really far away again.
Mommy comes back. “Shh. Okay. Okay. Come on.” She tucks me in again and sits by my bed. “Try to get some sleep.”
“Don’t go ‘way.”
“Okay. I’m right here.”
I watch her. She’s just a dark shape but I know it’s her.  After a while my eyes go shut even though I try not to let them.

I hear a creak. It’s the steps outside my room and I open my eyes. “Mommy!”
She comes back in. “Shh. I thought you were asleep.” She sits back down.
“Don’t leave.”
“I’m right here.”
My ears hurt a little less and the buzzing in my head is a little better but my throat seems to hurt even more so I tell her.
“That’s probably from all this crying,” she says.
I didn't mean to cry. 
I watch her. “Don’t leave.”
“I’m right here.”
I try not to close my eyes but it's really hard. I keep them open for a long time but they go shut and then I hear that creak again.
I sit up. “Don’t leave!”
Mommy comes back in. “Do I really need to stay here all night?”
My heart is banging and banging inside me. I don't want to make her stay. But I want her to stay. “Please please please don’t leave.” 
“Okay. I’m right here. I’ll stay.” She tucks me in and sits by my bed. 
For a really long time I watch her shape in the dark. Sometimes I move a little so she knows I’m not asleep. Sometimes I think I might fall asleep and I rub the sleep out of my eyes.
“Don’t leave.”
“Shh. Sleep now. I’m right here.”
I don't want to sleep but my eyes are fighting me and my brain feels soggy like all the crying went right in there. My eyes droop and I pop them open again and again.
“Don’t leave.”
“I won’t. I'm right here.”
I watch her in the dark. My ears feel  better and even my throat feels a little better. I swallow to check and it still hurts but not that bad. My eyes won't stay open so I put my hand on her knee. My skin is right on her skin ‘cause she has her nighty on and she feels warm and real. Now I can tell she's there even with my eyes closed.  
“Don’t leave,” I whisper.
“I won’t," she whispers, too.
I hear the dream voices in my head. I feel Mommy’s knee under my hand.
The dream door opens and I go in.

My eyes pop open.
It’s still dark.
Under my hand I feel blanket.
Mommy’s gone.  

When I wrote out my day's frustrations to my therapist and asked for a response, what I was really asking was, "Are you still there?"
What I was really saying was, "Please don't leave."
And all I really wanted to hear was, "I'm here."
When the expected reply didn't come, it was like waking up in that dark room, alone, all over again.

Will I ever outgrow this?
I want to believe I can. In fact, I have to believe that I can and will.

I am an adult. A capable adult.

Things are getting better all the time. One of these days I'm going to find that I really don't need to ask for a response anymore. In the meantime, I can cut myself some slack. I see the need and I see the reason for the need and I understand that when I cry because my therapist hasn't responded to an email, it's really that little four-year-old who's crying. I can comfort her and tell her, it's okay. I'm here. And I'm not going anywhere.

And I can mean it and make it true in a way that no one else ever could.

We can't be there for anyone else a hundred percent of the time. It is just not humanly possible. But, as adults, we can learn to be there for ourselves. I can accept myself, love myself, and allow my feelings.
All my feelings.
Grief, even when it seems ridiculous.
Anger that seems unwarranted.
Hurt that seems completely over-the-top.
And tears and more tears until I one day wash it all away.

I've learned that when I allow the painful feelings, I can also experience peace and joy and love as well as connection with others when they're available. I can be more open to these positive feelings because I'm not not seeing them through a veil of don't-leave-fear.

In this moment, I accept the reality that others will be there for me as they can and when they can't, I can be there for myself.

And -even so, sometimes it still hurts.

Monday, July 15, 2013


He first came to me during meditation about two years ago.

Alone, in the silence of my room, I'd been posing one of life's questions to the great beyond without any expectation of an answer. Suddenly this being seemed to just be there. He was right beside me. His presence was profoundly real.

My first thought was not, how is this possible? It was, why is he male? For a very long time I'd proclaimed to anyone who seemed willing to listen that God - however one defines God - was certainly around before genders. I could see no reason an infinite entity would feel the need to be limited to one gender or another. Yet, here before me was a being that seemed to exist beyond the physical world and I couldn't deny that he was a he.
The question--the all consuming life-journey question I'd been posing to the Universe--was an ussue I'd been struggling with for years. I felt desperate and pushed resistance aside. 

"Are you really there?"

"I am here."

And right then and there, this being showed me the way through. A new understanding unfolded around me and my issue resolved.

Since then, he's come to me again and again. I came to think of him as my guide, and whenever I sought him out, 

"Are you there?"

He'd appear.

"I am here."

Sometimes I'd forget. I'd struggle on my own until I couldn't stand it anymore and then suddenly I'd remember and ask, "Are you there?"
"I'm here." 
As trust grew between me and this seemingly all-knowing one, I called on him more and more. 
"Are you there?" 

He began to answer, "Always." 

And recently, I've come to call him with a single questioning word. 


I've just returned from a women's retreat. We shared songs and strength,  deep connection and gentleness. The experience filled me up with love as I bonded with fifty spirit-filled women. On the last night, I had the opportunity to read something I'd written to the whole group. 
But I didn't. 
Out of nowhere, I suddenly found myself filled with fear. This was much more than stage-fright. I was in a full-blown panic and this brought such anger--anger at myself--that it brought me to tears.As far as I've come, despite all my hard work, I was so full of fear that I could not even speak.
I was crying from anger at my fear and embarrassed that I was crying. It was all so confusing! I ran outside and found a dark place to hide my tears far from the rest of the group.  
I walked aimlessly until I saw the labyrinth. I'd walked it the night before with several others, but it was empty this time. I paused at the entrance and wiped my face on the backs of my hands. 

I stepped onto the path. My guide matched my pace around the curves and bends while I gathered my thoughts. Through gritted teeth I finally called into the night, "Am I ever going to be rid of this fear?"
The word was so clear and true in my mind, but my anger wasn't finished. It bubbled up and I spat out, "I've worked so hard! It isn't fair! I could have read to the whole group and I wanted to. I wanted to share with them, and it was safe to share with them and I've worked so hard! But this fear... this fear! Why haven't you taken it away?"
He smiled as I seethed, exuding a gentleness that seemed to stroke my hair. He said, "You've never asked."
I stopped still, gasping at that truth. 
A breath. 
Another breath. 

I started forward again, my pace slower as I ran over all the things I'd tried to rid myself of fear. Doctors and therapists, massage and reiki, meditations and medications... I've struggled through so much of my past but the one thing I'd never done was ask to have my fear taken away. 

It had never occurred to me.
And so, through a fresh layer of tears and in a much softer voice, I asked, "Can you take this fear away? Because I am 
of living with it...
in it... 
through it...
Will you please please take it away?" 
"I will."
We walked into the center of the labyrinth where I paused, eyes closed, to reflect on the simplicity of asking. In time, I began the journey back through the labyrinth's tracks and turns. Since another question was right inside me and my ever-present guide seemed also ever-willing, I asked, "When?"
And the answer, of course, was, "Always."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It Wasn't Me

It was the little girl on the coloring page.

Sexual abuse doesn't end with the abuse. We carry it through our lives in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. While I have come a very long way through six years of intense therapy, I still have a long way to go to be free of all the long-reaching binds that hold me, even now, from who I am meant to be.

I am and will forever be grateful to my therapist for all she's done to guide me through the darkest parts of my past. Yesterday, we began in earnest a new phase of my healing work--working directly on my own sexuality. Even a year ago I would have been unable to do this. Even now, our talks are accompanied with averted eyes and much internal discomfort. She assures me this will get better. I believe her. She's been right so many times before.

The following is a memory that came up in our session yesterday. It will almost certainly end up in my second book, Ragdoll's Dance. 

Through the process of integration, I am more able to see the full context of memories like this. I see both the pieces I always had in awareness and the pieces I blocked out either partially or completely. While I've always remembered parts of the event in my classroom in second grade, More details and a greater understanding came to me yesterday.

This is an account of a reaction to sexual abuse and not the actual abuse. I don't think it will be triggering, but I can't guarantee it. So - read on with good self-care in mind.

I am seven years old.
Last year, my first grade teacher told me and Annie Audenbach we were on the fast track. It wasn’t really a track. We just went in a special room for part of the day so we could skip second grade.
Then I was sick for a few months. I had rheumatic fever and that changed everything. I don’t get to take gym anymore, and I have to wear little metal things on the bottoms of my shoes so I walk right. You can’t really see the metal things too much, but they clang on the floor so everybody knows they’re there. Also, there’s this gross medicine I have to take every single day, and I have to get blood tests every Saturday and I didn’t get to go to third grade with Annie Audenbach.
So I’m in second grade.
I don’t like Annie Audenbach and I don’t like second grade. Mrs. Mitchel has mealworms in the closet. They live in a box of Raisin Bran and she says they like it in there. She dumps some out and there’s lots of worms crawling all through the cereal. If our Raisin Bran at home had worms in it, I might scream, but nobody screamed here ‘cause we all knew they were coming. 
It's still gross.
I’m not a good listener. I don’t mean to be a bad listener. Sometimes I just forget to hear. I know someone was talking but when they’re done I don’t know what they said. One time Mommy said she doesn’t know where I go. I don’t know either.
Mrs. Mitchel was probably talking about the mealworms but I guess this was one of those times ‘cause I still don’t know why she keeps worms in the closet and now she’s putting them away.
She says we can take out our crayons. I open my desk and find them and when I close my desk she puts a coloring page on it. She’s giving one to everybody, and they’re all the same picture—a man and a little girl about to cross the street. The man is holding the little girl’s hand and there’s a sign that says “Don’t Walk.” A car is coming. It must be a busy street.
When Daddy crosses the street with me he doesn’t hold my hand. He holds my wrist so I won’t get loose. He holds on really tight and when he lets go, his hand-print is there.
I know the "Don't Walk" sign should be red, so I take out my red crayon. Mrs. Mitchel says to color our pictures. She’s going out for just a moment and she’ll be right back.
I watch the door close.
I feel worried.
I start coloring but I’m getting so worried I forget to color the sign and now the little girl is wearing a red dress and my crayon breaks in my hand ‘cause I’m pushing too hard.
I look at the door.
Mrs. Mitchel isn’t back yet.
I’m worried because there’s an idea in my head and it won’t go away. I don’t even think it’s my idea. I don’t know where it came from, but I swallow and put the broken crayon down ‘cause even though it’s not my idea, I know I’m gonna do it.
I get up.
My shoes clank on the floor.
I’m really gonna do it.
For some reason, when I really know I’m gonna do it, I don’t feel scared anymore. I feel kinda…strong. I walk right to the front where Mrs. Mitchel usually stands.
I turn around and face the class.
They’re all looking at me.
For just a second I think I shouldn’t do it, but then I think, no one can stop me and that makes me feel even more strong.
So I do it. I look right at Bobby and Mark in the first row and I pull my dress up. Their mouths open and their eyes get big. They see my underpants. For just a second I think I’m gonna stop there, but I don’t. I pull my underpants down as far as I can reach without dropping my dress. 
Everything seems really slow except my heart. I turn a little to the left and I see Brad  leaning around so he can see from the back row. I turn a little to the right and I see Billy standing up. 
I feel funny inside. It feels ugly and trembly and warm and throw-uppy all at the same time. I look right into poopy-pants-Perry’s face. He's in the second row, right in the center and he looks scared. 
Everyone sees me. 
The room is so quiet. 
It's such a funny feeling and I know I had it before.
They’re looking right at me... right at it... and they don’t even have a choice.
The funny feeling... the funny feeling... it's bad. I suddenly know it's bad and I can't breathe and I don’t feel strong anymore. I look around the room and I see the girls and I feel angry. I let my dress fall back down.  I walk back to my seat, pulling my underwear up right through my dress. My shoes are really loud now because everything else is so quiet.
Then Bobby goes, “Oh ho!” and everyone starts laughing and bratty Colleen says “I’m telling!” and my heart is really really fast and I feel hot all over.  
It’s so loud in here. So loud with laughing. I’m trying to remember what happened. The ugly mealworms flash through my mind and the coloring picture is still on my desk and the little girl’s dress is dark, dark red and my broken crayon is right on her face and that feeling is still inside me and I wish it would go away.
For a second, I think I’m going to cry, but I don’t.
I start laughing. We're all laughing really hard when Mrs. Mitchel opens the door.
Then everyone gets really quiet. Colleen and Perry raise their hands. Stupid poopy-pants blurts out that I took off my underpants! I know I look pretty shocked ‘cause I didn’t. I’m still wearing them.
But I still have that bad funny feeling inside and Mrs. Mitchel is looking at me.


Daddy has a batticle this year. That means he doesn’t go to work so he can get a PHD. You get one by reading and writing lots of stuff and if he gets one, they’ll pay him more money. It seems kinda funny since he’s not even going to work, but that’s what he said.
Mommy works in the daytime now, so it’s good Daddy’s home. When me and Marty come home from school, Daddy gives us lunch.
Marty yawns. That’s good ‘cause he has to take a nap after lunch ‘cause he’s only in kindergarten.
I don’t have to take a nap ‘cause I gotta go back to school.
Daddy makes lunch different from Mommy. He gets everything out and puts it on the table and then asks us if we want any of this and any of that. I get a big slice of liver sausage and some cheese and some celery and some crackers and then he asks if I want beets. I say no ‘cause beets are gross.
He cuts up an apple. I like apples.
The phone rings and Daddy answers it. He’s listening but I don’t know who he’s hearing. I feel scared and I don’t know why. I think maybe it’s my teacher on the phone and then I don’t know why I thought that.
‘Cept I know something’s wrong… there's something… I remember the little girl on the coloring page and then I remember Poopy-pants pointing his finger at me. There’s half-chewed apple in my mouth and I wish I could spit it out ‘cause right now my throat feels too small for it.
Then Daddy puts the phone down on the table and I know it’s Grandmother talking. I can hear her, but also I know ‘cause he usually puts the phone down when Grandmother calls so she can “go on and on like she does.” It seems kinda’ mean, but Grandmother talks a lot and she doesn’t seem to notice.
I’m really glad my teacher didn’t call. Suddenly I remember the bad idea and the bad funny feeling. I don’t know why the bad idea came in my head but I think it had soething to do with the little girl on the coloring page. Maybe she had the bad idea and the funny feeling and somehow it got in me.
I drink some milk to get the apple down my throat. Then I drink the rest so I can get up from the table. I have to keep remembering the idea because it keeps disappearing and I wish it would disappear and not come back. The more I think about it, the more it seems like it was the girl on the coloring page who pulled her dress up. It was her who had the funny feeling, not me, and I hope she doesn’t put that idea in my head again.

Co Creation

Co Creation
We create the life we live

Love your inner child...

...for she holds the key...

...to your personal power.
A lesson is woven into each day.
Together they make up the tapestries of our lives.