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Thank You, Kimberly Callis!

Thank you for nominating this site for the Beautiful Blogger award!  

Your site titled “Stoning Demons” http://stoningdemons.wordpress.com is inspiring and informative.  I found some great researched articles and also wonderful personal accounts such as the excerpts from your journal.  Your clearly-written articles are adding to the literature of Complex PTSD and also helping those of us who suffer the misery of PTSD symptoms.  

To my readers: Kimberly’s blog, “Stoning Demons,” is a must-read.  I’m a subscriber, and reading her posts has helped me get a wider perspective on Complex PTSD and appreciate the resilience and strength of the human spirit.  

Two wonderful blogs whose authors I know: 

See Joy Corcoran’s Studio joycorcoran.com for inspiring and upbeat personal essays on disability, art, and just living.  Joy is an excellent writer and artist, and her site is, like her name, joyful and beautiful.  No matter what her topic, she always lets the light come in.  Very important!  

Another must-read blog is Becky Langley’s “Dignified Expressions” dignifiedexpressions.wordpress.com.  Becky, like Joy, is an artist, and she writes as she paints—in beautiful imagery.  She tells her story in a way that is at once familiar and yet unique—a blog not to be overlooked.

Other blogs that are interesting and important: 

http://wholetthishappen.wordpress.com/category/ptsd/  Interesting information in the PTSD archive of this blog. 

“PTSD from Gang Rape—My Journey”  http://femaleptsd.wordpress.com/ The author of this blog is a recent blogger who was raped by four men.  She is starting her journey and sharing it with us so that we might benefit from her story.  This blogger has great courage! 

Michael J. Cain  “Journaling and Its Role in PTSD Therapy” http://ptsdjournaling.wordpress.com/  

http://writingforrecovery.wordpress.com/  A blog offering resources for people who want to share their stories and write their way to healing. 

http://emdriausa.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/army-psychologist-reveals-instructions-to-mis-diagnose-ptsd/  This is the official blog site of the EMDR organization, and it contains interesting and sometimes shocking information regarding the treatment of PTSD in this country.  Well worth reading! 

As time passes, I will add to this list.  

Next, one of the rules for those who are nominated for the Beautiful Blogger Award is that we must answer the following ten questions.  Here goes:

 

1. What would you do if you won 5,000 pound tomorrow?? Publish my book.  Publishing would help my readers and me! 

2. Best life time moment?? Birth of my son and adoption of my daughter.

3. Are you happy?? Most of the time.

4. Do you prefer Facebook or TwitterFacebook.

 5. If you could change something in your life what would it be.  My knees.

6. What is your biggest vice/ bad habit in life ??  Being too sedentary.

7. Can you note what you name a good point about you and also a negative point about you?? (after all no one is perfect.) Good: I have empathy for others.  Bad:  I’m too serious.

8. What is your most embarrassing life time moment??  Recently?  I sat in water at a bus stop Sunday and had to walk around looking as if I’d wet my pants.

9. What is your favorite flower?  It’s a tie between calendula and forget-me-nots. 

10. What’s your biggest love in life? Talking with my kids and their families.

Back again soon with another post!  Jean 

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I remember a song from the 1950s titled “It Pays to Be Ignorant.”  I think this was the theme song of a Groucho Marx quiz program on early television, but I could be wrong about that—just as I have been wrong about so many things.  As the song title implies, sometimes it’s good to be ignorant.  For example, I am happy to not know much about the seamy side of life and its darkness.  Oh, I know something about life’s darkness as it relates to my own experience, but my own experience has been sufficient.  I don’t want to know about the darkness of other lives if I don’t need to know. 

 

In my position as a community college remedial writing instructor, I helped other women find relief from the darkness when they wanted my help. I listened to them and referred them to competent help and to safe places to stay. In the process, I always encouraged them to turn themselves toward the light and not look back into the shadows. I did the same for myself—I gravitated toward the light and didn’t spend a lot of time looking back.  Looking back into that pit was so distressing that it rendered me unable to teach my classes.  Now that I am retired and have the support of a competent therapist, however, I am looking back and trying to make sense of my own darkness, and recently I have found myself focusing on the darkness in my twenty-year marriage.  As I do this, I’m also discovering the degree of my ignorance as a young woman in my early twenties.

 

 Some people may prefer to call ignorance by another name.  Granted, innocent or naïve may be more appealing adjectives than ignorant, but no doubt about it:  I was ignorant!  First off, as a young wife, I operated on the assumption that my husband’s mind worked the same way my mind did.  I assumed that he lived by the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.), a rule which I have always kept in mind as I have interacted with other people.  I also assumed that he obeyed the Ten Commandments, the rules for life that I learned in Sunday School at the local Episcopal church when I was growing up.  Didn’t everyone obey the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments?  I assumed they did.

 

When I was young and first married, I assumed that my husband followed the same moral beliefs that I followed, and I also assumed that any punishment I received from him, as from my parents, was justified.  As my twenty-year marriage wore on and his behavior became more problematic, more violent, I managed to overlook his abusive behavior toward me, figuring that I deserved what he dished out.  He broke the Golden Rule, but when he did that, he must have had a good reason.   Never did I imagine that maybe he felt the Golden Rule didn’t apply to him.  No, when he broke the Rule, he must have known something about the game of life that I didn’t know.  And because I knew from my childhood experiences that I was in the wrong, I felt I had no right to ask him to explain his behavior.  I was so conditioned to my lifetime role as being the person at fault that I saw no disconnect between my own use of the Golden Rule as a guide to my behavior and his apparent rejection of the Rule. 

 

I took my husband seriously and blamed myself for my failures when he yelled at me and called me a stupid bitch for making a mistake and overspending at the grocery store, for not having the “right” kind of dinner on the table, or for not having his clean underwear folded in his drawer—this despite the fact that I worked outside the home and contributed to our family income.  I accepted my failure as a wife and as a woman, but the thought that he may have had some shortcomings never entered my mind.  I accepted the fact that he was free to break the Golden Rule and I was not.  The rules didn’t apply to him.  My denial was so strong that I did not challenge this assumption. 

 

Now, when I go back in my memory and remember the times I saw a man who treated his wife tenderly and with respect and thought to myself, “Gee, I wish my husband were like that,” I remember the guilt I felt at thinking those thoughts.  I was a married woman, and in my mind, I had no business wanting something other than what I had from my husband!  “Thou shalt not covet” loomed large in my conscience.  And I assumed that in my husband’s conscience the words loomed equally large. Now, however, knowing that not only did my husband covet but acted on his coveting and cheated on me for a good many years, I have become aware of the degree to which I was ignorant.  Looking back, I am truly amazed at my ignorance, in fact.  Only after I had reported him for child abuse and was going through the papers he had left in our home did I discover the letters from one of his lovers and have concrete proof of his misbehavior.  Just as he had not obeyed the Golden Rule, he also had not obeyed one of the Ten Commandments.  Here I had felt guilty for wishing, and he had gone far beyond wishing many times.  Another of my assumptions blown to hell.   More evidence of my ignorance.

 

All the years of my marriage, all twenty years, I assumed that I was the person at fault, the person who failed in my marital relationship.  Just as I had failed my parents, I failed my husband.  Was my father at fault when he picked my cat up by the tail and bashed her against the kitchen wall because I had misbehaved?  No.  I was only nine years old at the time, but I deserved to hear the thud of my cat’s body hit the wall and hear her cries.  So I thought.  Nobody told me I didn’t deserve the punishment.  Was my mother at fault when she said, “All my friends believe you are getting married because you have to get married”?  I wasn’t pregnant, but the guilt I felt for having sex with my future husband before I was married led me to feel deserving of her words. After all, good girls did not have sex before they married, and I had wanted to be a good girl all my life.  My mother knew I was a bad girl.  She was right about me, and I deserved whatever punishment she deemed appropriate. 

 

So after I had reported my husband for molesting our daughter, and after he had been to court and was given supervised visitation, and after I had asked him on one of these visits why he had become progressively rougher with me in bed and he had replied, “I just wanted to see if there was anyone in your body,” I thought, “It was my fault for not being there.”  Oh, yes, it was all my fault.  If only I had given him the satisfaction of knowing he was hurting me as he tore up my insides, then he would have known I was really there and would have stopped hurting me?  Something did not add up.  It was my fault that he pounded me like I was a piece of tough steak and tore me up?  I don’t think so!  Now I can say, “I don’t think so,” but at the time, I still believed I was at fault for willing myself to leave my body and giving him nothing but an empty shell to pound on. 

 

Recently, I had a conversation about my husband’s response to my question during the visitation, and my friend enlightened me as to the manipulative ploys of men such as my former husband, men who cheat on their wives and molest their little girls.  As my friend pointed out, I had married a master manipulator, a person who no way would take responsibility for his behavior and who had no conscience.  As my friend stated, when my former husband responded to my question by saying that he “wanted to find out if there was anyone in my body,” he was putting the responsibility for his behavior onto me.  According to him, it was all my fault that he was ripping my insides and tearing me up until I bled.  When she said that, I thought, “Wow!  I’ve never even considered that he was wrong about that.  I’ve reached the age of 73 still believing that I deserved what he did to me.”  All these years, I have believed that he had a right to pound on me and that I was at fault for not responding to him and letting him know I was there?  Yup!  All these years! 

 

Slowly, I’m defogging my mind and replacing old erroneous assumptions about relationships with new, more realistic assumptions.  I don’t have a lot of time left in my life, but in the time I do have, I want to see life and my role in human interactions as clearly as I can.  Now I feel as if I’m at an optometrist’s office, and each time the doctor changes the settings on the eyepiece I’m looking through, I can see more clearly.  Will my vision of life ever be 20-20?  Probably not, but I want that vision to be as clear as possible. I’m learning my lessons late in life, but knowledge is power even at my age.  I just thank God that I am still capable of learning and still able to cut through the fog of my ignorance and see the light. I wish the same for you, my readers.  Namaste.  Peace be with you.   

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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This week I’m taking a break from the far past, and I’m dealing with a “realtime” situation in the here and now but rooted in the more recent past.  Maybe you can relate to my state of  mind and the process of grieving the loss of an ideal.
 
I have a very dear friend who is a retired clinical psychologist, and one of the most useful gifts she has given me is a saying that goes something like this:  “With awareness comes change.”  Very, very simple and short–but oh so powerful!  If we don’t know what the problem is, then we can’t fix it.  But once we have identified the problem, then we have a choice: we can fix the problem, or we can ignore it.  Whichever decision we make, however, will lead to consequences that could be life-enriching or life-depleting.  The consequences of our decision will catch up to us and to the people we love, one way or another.
 

Most of my adult life, I have tried my best to identify problems in my behavior and in the human environment in which I have lived, and when I have been able to recognize my part in problematic situations, I have attempted to remedy my own behavior–knowing full well that the only person I can possibly change is myself!  For example, I tried really hard to raise my own kids differently than I was raised.  I remembered my own childhood, and I did not want to repeat what I perceived as the mistakes my parents made.  I know a lot of people who have done what I have done and who have tried their absolute best to not pass toxic behavior from their past to their children.  In raising my own kids, my ideal was to raise my kids in such a way that they reached adulthood without the miseries I have had.  At the time I was raising my kids, “miseries” was the only term I could use to identify what I now know as C-PTSD.   

One component of my C-PTSD is the problem I have of forming attachments to other human beings.  This problem, I believe, stems largely from the fact that I was left in the hospital nursery for weeks after I was born.  My mother was sick, and there was nobody available to take me home.  And then, after I did go home, I was put on a strict four-hour schedule: changing and a bottle every four hours, bathing several times a week, and no handling in between.  Human touch was largely missing from the equation.  Breaking a baby’s will was “in”!  Babies had to learn early who was boss, and cuddling led to spoiled, tyrannical babies.  During my childhood, I felt like an object, an inanimate object that could be moved and directed by adults however they chose to move and direct me.  Thus, I became an excellent prey for sexual predators and other abusers.  I carried this role into my marriage and became a battered wife. My children suffered, too, each in his or her own way. 

Thus, aware of the damage my own upbringing had done to me, when I became a young mother at age twenty-three, I realized that I had a choice.  “With awareness comes change.”  I was aware of my own misery, my tendency to remain aloof and disconnected from others, my inability to trust other people, and my inability to sustain a close relationship with most adults.  I also had a vague idea as to the cause of my problem.  I did not want to do the same damage to my children that had been done to me.  So when my son was born, I picked him up every time he squeaked.  I nursed him whenever he seemed hungry, and I cuddled him when he cried.  After all, I thought, a baby must have a reason for crying, and it was up to me to reassure him that his world was as it should be, safe and warm and comfortable.  I was present for him in every way I could be present. 

As my children went through childhood, I tried my best to be present for both of them, but the chaos in our  home, their father’s temper outbursts and my fear of him, rendered me incapable of simply gathering the kids and leaving the marriage.  I was aware, but only partially aware, of the problem, and only when I caught my husband molesting our daughter did I become fully aware of the problem.  When I fully saw the situation, the problem, as it existed, then I made the change: I reported my husband to the police, filed for divorce, and became a single parent. 

Now, I look back on my days as a mother, and I look at my children, and I ask myself if I achieved my ideal.  My kids are adults now, middle-aged, and my son has children of his own.  Did they escape the misery?  Sadly, I must face the fact that they did not escape, although I can honestly say that in some respects they have fared better than I did.  I can give myself credit for giving my son a better start in life than I had.  My daughter was adopted as an older foster child, and she had already gotten off to a rocky start in life. 

So what is this “realtime” struggle I’m having now?  It’s this:  Recently I have been hit smack in the face by the fact that I did not reach my ideal.  My children and grandchildren are, like the rest of us mortals, having to deal with their own humanity and all the sorrows and sadness that go along with being human.  And I am responsible for part of their suffering!  In my state of being unaware of all my own miseries and the underlying causes of those miseries,  I was unable to help them avoid some of their own suffering. 

How do I feel about this recent insight, this new awareness?  It’s laid me low for the past few days!  I’ve felt the sadness, the grief that comes with knowing I did not achieve my ideal of giving my children the childhood that I didn’t  have, a childhood at least free from the toxins that were forced upon me.  With this awareness, what changes can I make?

I’ve been thinking today about the changes I can make.  First off, though, I need to accept the fact that I did not do everything possible to help my children grow to adults who have no “miseries.”  When I was an active parent, I was dysfunctional, incapable of cutting through the fog in my mind and being the effective parent that I wanted to be.  I see that now, and I am so sorry that I failed to be all to my children that I wanted to be.  I’ve felt the sorrow and the grief over that failure.  But I’m not going to beat myself up over it.  That would not be helpful to my children, my grandchildren, or to myself. 

What am I going to do?  I am going to continue in therapy, for one thing, and do what I can in the time I have left to become even more aware than I am, even more cognizant of the process in which I am involved, working my way out of the mental tangles of C-PTSD.  I also am going to be more present and available to my grandchildren.  If I’ve learned anything in my life that might help them in their lives, I want to be available to pass that learning on to them–if they want me to do that.  Only if they want me to do that.  At any rate, I want them to know that I am there for them. I also want my children to know that I am available to them if they need me.  One of them does know, I think, but I’m not sure about the other one.  I can’t change my children or grandchildren, but I can change myself.  I have the strength to do that, and I will do it.  Am doing it. 

In the process of becoming more aware of my inner self and as I unravel more tangles of Complex PTSD, I will know more about changes I need to make in my perceptions and in my behavior.  I’ll make those changes.  That’s what life and therapy are all about–becoming aware and making changes.  I’m capable of this task, and I will do it to the best of my ability.  As my therapist once told me, each person who heals helps the whole universe heal.  Namaste.  Peace.