Wednesday, January 13, 2016

This blog has moved!

Hi!  Just in case you might be looking for a new blogpost from me here - you won't find it.
I've moved my blog presence to - there is now a blog page there!
Thank you for your interest!
Warmly, Rebecca

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Change the Word and Change the Picture

As I gaze out this window and try to find words to describe what I see, I can choose between two words.  I see either a hill or a mountain.  Choosing which word to describe what I see is important for there is a great distinction between a mountain and a hill.

The words we use matter.

I want to propose a shift in some of the words we use when looking at sex abuse so that we can create a different possibility.
  • Victim or survivor - Typically when we refer to someone who has experienced sexual trauma, we use the word survivor. They haven't survived it - yet.  They got through it.  With much collateral damage done to their sense of self, and their view of the world.  The person is first a victim, and does not become a survivor, until they have done the difficult work of overcoming the impact of the trauma. When we tell someone they have "survived" before they have done the hard work necessary, we leave no room for healing.  A victim can begin to put responsibility where it lies and see the need and possibility for restoration.
  • Story or journey - Story speaks to identity. Journey speaks to movement through. When a victim "tells her story", it conveys a picture that has an ending. It reinforces the false identity created through trauma. The story of sex abuse isn't over until you have journeyed through the impact. Everyone of us is much more than what happened to us.  We all can journey through events, and use events as a process for growth.  If we shift from the word story to journey, we denote process, hope and possibility.
  • public health issue or human rights issue - In order to create awareness and find a framework in which to engage people, the prevention world has called sex abuse a "pubic health" issue.  The use of that framework lulls people into a sense of who ever has this problem can get a quick fix. Actually the presence of sex abuse is a human rights issue.  It is a human right to live in safety without fear of sexual violence.  It is a human right to have the possibility of living up to ones full potential. Perhaps that is the framework we need to utilize. 
  • Advocate or Activist - An advocate has your back. An advocate speaks up for you, perhaps listens to you and offers help.  An activist takes action.  The word denotes radical and active actions on an issue to promote change.  An activist is about doing something; it has a sense of urgency and focus.  An activist is empowered to promote the cultural change we need that will  end sex abuse.
  • Emotional Health or Mental Health  - I first heard this distinction in an ACES blog post written by Penny Payton.  I live in a world of mental health diagnosis.  The system requires an official label to both direct the treatment approach and provide the dollars necessary to give that service.  I believe that many, (not all) mental health issues are actually issues of emotions.  The things we tell ourselves and the behaviors are designed to help us deny or tame emotions.  With the shifting of one word we might reduce stigma and validate the freedom found in healthy emotional expressions.
The words we use matter!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Being Real

Can I get real with you today?  Last week was a very disappointing week for me. Both professionally and personally. Things that I have longed for, worked towards and believed in, fell apart. It has caused me to walk with hesitancy, a physical heaviness and deep sorrow. 

My church sings this amazing song, "I Know Who I am."  It usually moves me to a joyful place of knowing and celebration.  Because I do know who I am, what God says about me and His plans for me. I embrace them and walk in them - most days.  However, the world hasn't read the same memo!  Opportunities are thwarted, people turn away and I'm left with a feeling of defeat.  And I'm not sure how to get up and keep going.

This morning I again listened to the song, "I Know Who I am"; not on purpose, but by accident. It brought me not to the usual place of celebration, but a place of tears. The moment the music started playing, I felt the deep hurt and yes, rejection, that I've experienced this week. Silent small tears escaped and ran down my cheek.

In the moment I knew that I faced a choice and needed to do the hard work of getting back up.  I could easily give up and agree with the messages the world is telling me. I could throw my hands up and walk away from the challenge of living as me. Or, I could choose to again look towards and agree with what I know to be true about me. In spite of the conclusions others come to.

So, I find myself utilizing the very skills I teach - I'm using my power of agreement
This is what I'm doing in this moment:
1. I'm acknowledging and expressing the emotional, spiritual and physical hit I took.  I'm allowing the tears to flow as I write.  I'm playing the music over and over, allowing the truth of it to permeate that place of hurt and help release the pent up emotion. I will do this until I again am at peace with the truth of "who I am."
2.  I'm deciding to take care of what I need today.  Do I need a walk in the woods?  A hug?  Some special treat?  A nap?  A movie?  More music? Writing? I will ask inside and put it into place.  I will honor my needs.
3.  By a choice of my will I will realign with and agree with the truth of my possibility and promise.  I do know who I am, no matter what it looks like and how others react.
4,  Repeat! Repeat! And repeat, until I'm in a better place, equipped to rise up again, keep going and do what I've been designed to do.

See, I don't just teach restoration skills - I live them!  And they work!
Thanks for listening.....Rebecca

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Head Games

Oh my - The news segment was called, "Head Games" and instantly had my attention. I watched as the reporter put on a heavy goggle headset and stepped into virtual reality.  Immediately what the reporter was seeing was altered.  Instead of a solid room, he saw a plank stretching across an abyss.  When he was asked to step across the plank, his hesitation was tangible.  His distorted view felt more real than the reality he knew was there.

Of course my mind thought of the work I do with trauma.  Events in life, whether sexual abuse, natural disasters or loss can distort perceptions and reality - much like the headset the reporter put on.

I explored the definition of "virtual" and discovered that it meant, "being so in effect, although not in actual fact or name."  Effect is an important word here as well.  Effect is "result, anything brought about by a cause, influence, an impression made on the mind." 

Whoa - The event of experiencing sex abuse makes an impression on the mind that is not an actual fact!  Don't turn away!  Hear this clearly - I'm not saying that the fact that you experienced sexual abuse isn't true.  You know what happened.  What isn't true is what you believe about yourself; the effect, the impression made on your mind!

Much like the virtual reality headset, the event of sex abuse locked your mind in a vise grip that distorts your thinking. You are not what happened to you. You are not destroyed.  You are not shameful.  You are not worthless. The emotions will not kill you.  You absolutely can conquer this. Now you fill in the blank with what that vise grip tells you, because you are not________.  It is your distorted virtual reality.

By the end of the news piece the reporter felt dizzy.  It wasn't until he took off that headset and restored his vision to see the truth about the room he was in, that the dizziness left.

Do the same.  Use the restoration skills and recognize what the head games are saying to you.  What did sex abuse cause you to believe?  Then shift your power of agreement, knowing that what you believe is an effect and not reality, and agree with the truth of who you are.  Utilize the positive feedback from safe people and exchange the effect and internalize the truth of your intrinsic value.

Take off the Headset!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

4 Myths that make healing nearly impossible

I believe that it is possible to overcome the impact of sex abuse!  I don't have a specific a,b,c of what that looks like; you decide what healing might look like for you.  I would, however, offer for consideration the definition that you have overcome the impact when sex abuse is not how you filter your world.  You have overcome when you walk in the strength and power of authentic identity, no longer accepting the "story of sex abuse" as who you are.

We appreciate the work of Caroline Myss, who offers the term, "woundology" to describe the reality that victims typically redefine their lives around their wounds in a process of accepting them.  These 4 myths come from her work. To help you explore them, we have added our "fill-in-the-blanks" worksheet. 

 Myth #1:  My life is defined by my wound. 

It is virtually impossible not to be influenced by a personal history of emotional or psychological wounds. Sadly, most victims convince themselves that their lives are only a compilation of their wounds and that they feel they can do little to heal, other than to share their stories and manage the impact.

To release the grip of this myth you must take more responsibility for the quality of your life. 

"Sometimes I make excuses for why I am not focusing on doing more positive things in my life such as (be specific) ________________________________.  The excuse I use most often is _____________________________________.  There are times I compare my history of wounds because _________________________________________.  If I feel more wounded than someone else, I often feel more empowered because____________________________________________."

Myth #2: Being healthy means being alone.

Sometimes people believe that once they are healed they will no longer have emotional or psychological needs and therefore all support for what is happening in their lives will be gone forever.  The truth is that whether or not we are healed or are in the process of healing we will always need loving friends and family; a community based not just on wounds or neediness, but on shared interests and emotional nurturing.

"I am afraid that if I heal, my support people will___________________________
When I picture myself as healed I see _______________________________ with me.
Emotional wounds may be a source of bonding with others and healing from those wounds may  mean__________________________________________________."

Myth #3: Feeling pain means being destroyed by pain.

The opposite is actually true:  Not feeling your pain will destroy you.  Pain collected in the body causes physical aches and illness. Identifying and expressing the reality of your emotional pain releases you from the weight of it, and releases you from a constant connection to the trauma.  The pain can feel overwhelming because it has accumulated over the years.  As you move towards owning the pain, releasing it, you still have skills to back away if need be.  Pain will not destroy you. 

"I hold onto my pain because ________________________________________.  If I process the pain and release it, I will lose _________________________________ and I will gain________________________________________________________."

Myth #4: True Change is Impossible

No one particularly likes the process of change.  Yet, healing and change are the same thing.  We cannot heal without first investigating what behavioral patterns and attitudes we need to alter.  Once these characteristics are identified, we have to DO something about them.  Willingness and action bring about change that results in healing.  You have to want it more than you want the "safety of the norm" you think you walk in. It requires determination! 
"I often don't believe change is possible because _____________________________.
It is also possible I am hoping change is not possible so I don't have to deal with 

__________________________ or take responsibility to begin to ________________


Consider checking out our Connections Community online - to get the skills necessary to overcome and the support needed while you change!  
Check it out:

Friday, August 7, 2015

Getting Through

This phrase has been haunting me since I heard it expressed in a meeting last week.  At the time it was used in connection to people who find themselves in life circumstances that appear insurmountable. When we say, "we'll get through", it denotes that there is a destination in mind, that we are getting through to something.  And if there is a destination in mind, there is a measure of expectation to get somewhere. And some won't achieve that. They will always feel as if they aren't making it.

I find that every day seems to have something "to get through."  And I don't think that phrase points to a specific destination.  As soon as I get through one thing, there is another one to overcome. I think "to get through" points to how we maneuver our way through the experiences and challenges of life. 

This week my constant companion, my dog Teagan, died unexpectedly. A huge loss that I have to manage. A dear friend with compassion for my hurt said, "you're a strong women, you'll get through this."  I was puzzled by that statement because, although my friend did not mean this, it felt as if because I'm "strong"my experience of getting through this should be swift and easy. That isn't the case. 

So, I've decided that getting through something is definitely not about getting somewhere. It is not about an end result. It is about being authentic in the reality of the experience. It is about naming and expressing the deep emotional reactions; yes, both the joy and sorrow, the scared, the angry, and the hope. 

Getting through means that you recognize the reality, pass through the emotions and connect to those around you who can journey with you. It's about being vulnerable and honest with yourself and those around you.  Its about accepting help and hugs when needed.  Its about being connected both inside and out.

It is actually when you don't embrace the reality, or express the emotions and learn from the experience that you don't "get through."

So, in my getting through the loss of Teagan, I am feeling her absence; smiling when I remember a special behavior, crying when I sit down and she doesn't jump up, and speaking her name as many times as I need to. 

I'm getting through.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Trauma: Unraveling Truth and Reality

She arrives wearing baggy sweat pants and over sized shirts, and I know she is living out of the "truth" she has assigned to her sense of self.  She is walking in what she believes is her truth. Actually, it isn't true that she is shameful or damaged goods. However, out of the reality of experiencing sexual trauma, she has developed a "truth" that directs the way she carries herself.

Truth and reality get confused, especially for the victim of trauma. 

I define truth as the concepts and thoughts that move you closer to a sense of freedom, hope, purpose and destiny. Truth is about knowing the accuracy in spite of what the reality of events may tell you.  Have you ever talked to a person who is color blind? He often experiences the color red as shades of gray. His reality is that ‘red’ is experienced as ‘gray’. The truth, however, is red is really a different color. His experience and therefore his reality does not have the power to change the color red to gray. The person with color blindness learns to distinguish the difference between the truth and his reality and often seeks help in coordinating his wardrobe.

I define reality as a state of affairs; something that exists independently of things concerning it.  Reality is about knowing what has happened or is happening. Those events that just are.

Distinguishing between truth and reality can be difficult, but so important in untangling the impact of sexual trauma. Trauma happens and we tell ourselves something as a result - something that may not be truth even when it feels as if it is.  

Consider completing this fill in the blank about something in your life:

Reflecting back on my life I can see that my reality consisted of: ______________________


Which caused me to believe that my truth is: _____________________________________________

______________________________________________________. But if I look deeper I can see

that the truth behind my reality is _____________________________________________________

and not ________________________________________________________________________.

Here is an example that might help you sort this out:
Reflecting back on my life I can see that my reality consisted of sexual trauma.  Which caused me to believe that my truth is that I'm bad and shameful.  But if I look deeper I can see that the truth behind my reality is that something bad happened to me and not that I am bad.

Once you untangle the reality and identify the truth, you make the decision to align your power away from the lie formed from trauma towards the truth that brings freedom!