Her Name Is Marley

Her Name Is Marley

“Emotions are the gifts of our ancestors. We have them and so do other animals. We must never forget this.”
― Marc Bekoff, The Emotional Lives of Animals

Recently, I’ve been thinking of my cats Simba and Nalla who I simply referred to as “my girls.” It’s been about 3 years since I had to have them euthanized. They were 15 and 16 years old when they died. I had raised them since they were 1 week old. And they were also a large part of my abuse history. Losing them caused a lot of grief because there were things that happened to them that I was unable to prevent. When I left my ex-husband, I was fortunate to get them out alive. A lot of my animals were left dead for me to find.
My girls and I shared a difficult time in our lives. I wasn’t going to be able to rush the grief that I had when they died. So, each day when I would open my eyes one of the first things, I remembered was how much abuse they also went through and the guilt that I had for not being able to stop it. They were treated as queens and they knew it.

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While I was living in Texas when I visited friends, I would borrow the love the animals had for a visitor and each time a little piece of my heart would heal a little bit from the grief. Their animals were so compassionate, but I still missed my grumpy cats. The two years I spent in solitude doing healing work many wouldn’t understand that level of loneliness. Do I wish I had an animal to keep me company? You bet I did. There’s just something about having an emotional connection with an animal that you can’t have with other humans. I love domestic animals because they aren’t judgmental. I can’t say the same thing about humans.
Since I moved back to Mississippi, I have been thinking about getting another cat. I didn’t rush things because in my heart I would know when the time was right. I had been looking for a kitten but was not in a big rush. The right kitten would be waiting to meet me somewhere and I knew that. I just had to be patient.
For the last couple of weeks, I had been communicating with a local vet clinic. And just like I thought the right kitten was waiting for a home. I barely heard the instructions for her meds because I couldn’t take my eyes off her. We are a perfect match. I watched her for a few hours before settling in on her name. Me and my internal guys settled on a name and her name is Marley. She will also be a part of ongoing healing for me. If service animals were easy to acquire, I would have one. She will be my emotional support animal no matter what. Just like my emotional support beverage called Diet Coke.

Lacking a shared language, emotions are perhaps our most effective means of cross-species communication. We can share our emotions, we can understand the language of feelings, and that’s why we form deep and enduring social bonds with many other beings. Emotions are the glue that binds.”
― Marc Bekoff, The Emotional Lives of Animals

#thispuzzledlife

You Never Mattered (poetry)

You Never Mattered

You forced me to list and now it’s my time.
Your abuse has made me feel like I can’t be real in life
You destroyed parts of me that once thrived
And you sucked me into your grasped by being very kind.

Once everyone was gone you made your first move
Showing me the side of a human that most must prove
You dehumanized me in so many ways
Until I’ve learned to live life mostly in a trauma filled haze

But your days are over, and my days are near.
Oh, and the truth that everyone shall hear
About your venomous actions forced on to children, teens and adults
All you’ll be able to do is sit back and sulk

I won’t be sad for because you hurt me so
But what you shoved into the ground has now begun to grow
With growth you need water and those are the tears I shed
While I try to undo everything, you put into my head

I went to everyone looking for help
And it made it all worse and you hurt me more until I yelped
I didn’t know it then because I was just a kid
Because I matter now, and you never ever did.
#thispuzzledlife

The Myths About Dissociative Identity Disorder

 

“And if we do speak out, we risk rejection and ridicule. I had a best friend once, the kind that you go shopping with and watch films with, the kind you go on holiday with and rescue when her car breaks down on the A1. Shortly after my diagnosis, I told her I had DID. I haven’t seen her since. The stench and rankness of a socially unacceptable mental health disorder seems to have driven her away.”
― Carolyn Spring, Living with the Reality of Dissociative Identity Disorder: Campaigning Voices

There are so many different myths in society about mental illness. However, when you begin talking specifically about a disorder there are even more. And Hollywood doesn’t help when people with mental illness run wild and crazy and going around killing people. If that’s the only side of mental illness that people know and see then, of course, that is what will be formed in their minds about mental illness. This is very harmful and degrading to people who have some type of disorder.
So……. I’m going to write a little bit about these myths and see if I can help dispel some related to Dissociative Identity Disorder. I have found some of the more common ones in different places on the internet. I will do my best to try to dispel these myths. I haven’t told many people about my diagnosis because they take their uneducated ignorance and usually turn and walk away. I don’t take it personal because it’s just a lack of education. But I do smart back at them and I usually say, “Don’t worry I’m not going to cook you and eat you!”

Truth be told, if you walked up to someone and asked them what dissociative Identity disorder is, they would probably say, “What are you talking about?” But if you asked them what multiple personality disorder was they would unload all kinds of myths probably related to the movie Sybil, Split, The Three Faces of Eve, Frankie and Alice and any movie like that and could tell you all kind of information that was wrong. I will and in no way cover all the myths, but some is better than none.

stand up

 

1. Myth: DID is not real. In 1980 the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM-II) classified this as a mental disorder. So, this diagnosis has been around for many years.

2. Myth: DID=Schizophrenia are the same thing. There are similarities but there are significant differences. DID is a trauma related disorder and schizophrenia is an organic and psychotic disorder. I could expand on this topic for the rest of the day. But my best advice it to look it up yourself.

3. Myth: DID alters are obvious and extreme. The opposite happens. Unless you live around the person you most of the time won’t know any of the alters. Switching is so subtle that the average person wouldn’t be able to tell when a switch occurs. The disorder was designed to keep the individual safe from a very abusive situation so that’s why switching alters is not obvious. My wife knows a lot about my alters and my switching but even now things have changed and most have hidden deeper because my alters have gotten hurt by people and they only feel safe being around certain people.

4. Myth: DID is an iatrogenic rather than a trauma-based disorder. This statement means that the disorder is caused by the therapist or other professional. Contrary this disorder IS caused by trauma and not the therapist.

5. Myth: The belief that it’s only something that happens in a movie. Hollywood has created this belief and others. Very seldom does the movie industry present this disorder correctly. Remember that the industry needs to make money to survive just like any other industry. And they will do that anyway it needs to. So, if that means misrepresenting mental illness to get it done it will

6. Myth: People with DID are more prone to violent behavior. Individuals with DID are no more prone to be violent than anyone else. In most cases there is not an ‘evil’ alter.

7. Myth: The belief that treatment is harmful to the patient. I can personally say that had I not got adequate treatment that I would probably be dead. Treatment is crucial for the individual to receive to be able to get better.

This is by no means a complete list of myths. With all the information out on the internet I would highly advise looking through scholarly journals to get more of the accurate information about these and other questions that you might have about this disorder and any other disorder. Educate your self about mental disorders and mental illness and then there will be no reason to fear individuals that have a diagnosis. Are there people who are violent and have mental illness? Yes, but that’s not most people with a disorder.

“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shames us all.”
—Bill Clinton

#thispuzzledlife

My Punshiment (Poetry)

My guilt and shamed that others can’t see.
How much self-punishment will serve me?
I’ve hurt my kids and wonderful wife
And how I have taken from their lives
I feel that it is my honor to do
To punish myself like other abusers should do
The people that hurt me never punished themselves in life
But this is something I can do for my kids and wife.
My punishment I’ll do, and others can’t know
Until it’s time for my punishment I’ll show
My punishment I’ll do because I have a conscience you’ll see.
But they didn’t have one for what they did to me.
What can be worse than to drive Mel away?
Only what I deserve……an eternity in hell.
And then I’ll never hurt anyone again.
I won’t hurt my babies or anyone I call my friend
Then I’ll be the parent they need
The one who is no longer sick, and they can have stability they can see.
I’ve put my family and kids through enough
Just ask them and they’ll tell you that it’s been rough.

#Thispuzzledlife

Eating The Enemy (poetry)

Eating The Enemy
In this world I live in
I have a powerful enemy known as food.
And at times I can talk about it and be kind of crude
But please stay open minded for the reasons why
It’s so painful that all I can do is throw my hands towards the sky.
This one thing that most take for granted
I hate with every bitter part of me
Food has been the enemy that has the potential
to ruin relationships and lives.
With every torturous bite from a fork I feel like I want to die.
So, it usually ends up with me crying
Their words change the direction and
The way I look at food forever
The more I try the worse I feel
Why oh why must I shed these tears:
Shame and guilt pour over me like water from a waterfall
This should be easy…. just to eat.
But its not. Each word sent my way
Like missiles does nothing to help
Why must I put up such a fight?
Answer…. guilt and shame
Like a shark stalking its prey
“Get rid of it!!!!” It says
What a battle that I’m tired of fighting
Please take me away.
#Thispuzzledlife

I Am The Problem And The Solution

I Am The Problem And The Solution

“Dana, if you would get out of your own way, you could accomplish anything.”
—Sarah Pardue

One of the topics that keeps my stomach in knot is how I am both the problem and the solution of my own life. I can be the solution for my trauma. But I can also stand in my own way as the problem. Anytime I give into my addictive behaviors I have become my own problem. I will take and destroy anything that I work so hard for because of this. Things that I hold sacred I will unknowingly destroy because I feel that I’m not worthy of good things. I am also the solution to the problem of fixing anything that comes before me. This I have proven time and time again. I have both the knowledge and the power to change anything unhealthy. I just must dig deep and pull out all the teachings and reverse not give into what seems to be maladaptively comforting at the time.

What I must do is to reverse the messages that were taught to me through abuse. And stand up face-to-face with it and say, “today I choose to live differently.” And make the change better. I haves versus how I live which is to breakdown and give into that train of thought. I deserve better and want better. I have worked hard to be who I am and deserve a better life of constant abuse that I continually replay through my own behavior.

Invictus

Therefore, I chose the topic that I am the solution and the problem. Sarah and Coach have both taught me that I can’t give away what I don’t have. If I keep giving my recovery away or interfering in the process of changing, then how do I expect to be healthy and pay it forward by giving it away to someone else who I might meet that is also struggling. The choice is up to me. Not, Sarah’s teachings nor Coach’s current teachings. I treasure them all. So, the greatest give that could give them both is to see me overcome these old ways of thinking that were engrained in my thinking by perpetrators. I will be the solution even through tears and a heavy heart at times. Remember…. I’m the comeback kid.

In closing I can say that if I can ever turn around and have a positive self-image and love myself, as much as, other people love me, I will accomplish great things. Maybe my writing will help and maybe it won’t. But loving oneself is not something that happens overnight. It takes continually telling myself that I AM worthy of great things.

#thispuzzledlife

 

The Fear Of Eating Is Real(poetry)

Fear Of Eating Is Real
Food is a topic that makes me very sad
And I barely remember of normal days I had
He took away a relationship that was full of hope
Now when someone says food all I say is Nope!!!
His words constantly criticized me so much decisions come with tears
It hasn’t happened for days but for many, many years.
I’m scared to eat because he was there for a long time
Right over my shoulder to criticize me while I ate every single time
I want to be able to eat without solitude and tears.
In private I’ve eaten food for many years
Most take this action for granted and just eat with nothing to say
But the person I was abused by never had anything nice to say anyway
So, don’t make comments while I try to learn this skill
Because the fear of eating food is something that’s for real.
#thispuzzledlife

It’s Not About The Food

It’s Not About the Food

“Girls developed eating disorders when our culture developed a standard of
beauty that they could obtain by being healthy. When unnatural thinness
became attractive, girls did unnatural things to be thin.”
–Mary Pipher

This is a repost from a few years ago that never made it to my current blog.
One of the things that I’ve learned the most about my many maladaptive behaviors is that the perfect storm had arrived to ensure me having eating disorders when I was a very impressionable teenager. Not only was it teenagers having issues with body image. It was also the abuse that occurred during that time and the things that were said but also my impression about what had occurred and what was done. As a part of the abusive teacher’s very hateful nature was the being humiliated about myself as a human being in front of my peers. I was put on display a lot of the time and made to stand in front of the class while being made fun of without having any type of recourse. If I ever said anything back, I was punished by both she and the administration who clearly had no idea to what extent her abusive nature was. She, on more than one occasion would tell me when the rodents would get into my food in my locker “It doesn’t look like you need food anyway.”

My high school years during which I kept those eating disorders alive and well I became a sickly 83 lbs and ruined any of my hopes of playing athletics in college. What I was left with was a life of painful eating disorders that I still struggle with daily. These behaviors were further compounded when I met my ex-husband who disguised his personal reason for wanting to help me by encouraging the eating disorders in his own way.
I was made to weigh for him sometimes weekly because “I’m not going to be married to a fat ass” he would always say. He would also tell me that “it’s ok to have fat friends but you don’t have to look like them.” He micromanaged my food to the extent that that I was only allowed to eat what he approved of and nothing else. To make sure this happened he would allow me only 10 pistachios and 10 olives to eat while at work working two jobs. He would also sit out in the parking lot to make sure I didn’t eat anything that was not what he allowed. When I would tell him that I was hungry his supportive line was “No pain no gain.”

Open back

He would also leave random newspaper clippings around the house about the latest weight loss diets and/or make me take pictures of myself in swimsuits or naked, put them on the refrigerator and tell me “next time your fat ass gets hungry look at this picture and maybe you won’t want to eat.” He would also make comments if we went out to eat about how all the people were looking at me because I was a fat ass. He would say, “If you don’t like them staring at you then don’t be a fat ass.” If we had dinner with his family, he would wait until we left to criticize either what I ate or how I ate. And many times, these comments were said where other people could hear them. He would also say, “Did you have to eat that much of whatever we had for dinner? You eat like a prisoner who’s about to have their tray stolen! And that is why I must tell you how, when and where to eat. Because you’re too dumb to do it on your own. You’ve already proven that time and time again.” Eating quickly became the most dreaded activity I had to deal with daily. My goal was to try to get through life with him eating as little as possible. As you can imagine I did do that to his standards either.

The message that was conveyed to me was that no matter what I did it would never be to his irrational standards. I was also expected to be at the gym to workout mornings at 5:00 am. Being a well-known guy in the city he knows many people and that included the employees at the gym. So, he would call to verify my being there and what types of workouts I was doing. If I ran 4 miles, he would want to know why I didn’t “gut it out” and run 5 miles.

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Years of his verbal abuse, threats, and sexual abuse slowly broke me down. People who don’t understand why individuals stay in relationships like this often say, “Well he only did what you let him do,” cannot possibly comprehend what this does to your psyche. Those types of hurtful comments are why most suffer in silence and don’t ask for help. After all, sometimes it was the easiest and safest thing to do by just going along with whatever his demands that they were no matter what they were. He had me convinced that I was nothing without him. He and his brother tormented me for years and continue to do so internally. But again, they were both raised by a father who was also a malignant narcissist and a mother who worked at home without an education until much later in life. So really, she had nowhere to go with three children and no education. So, for many men and women in these types of relationships that don’t leave usually have a damn good reason for staying. There’s always more to the story behind those closed doors than what you realize. My own parents had no idea the extent of the abuse that I was having to deal with daily. Such is a life with a malignant narcissist.

Even now if someone tries to take a verbal jab at me while in a public place or group setting my “verbal sniper” becomes activated and a one-sided war will ensue. I have found that striking the first blow is a way that I can set the tone that I will NOT be hurt by whoever it is that I feel is a personal threat either imagined or real. All I must do is see this as a possible threat. Anyone that I perceive as an authority figure, I absolutely will not make eye contact with if possible.

I guess the message I’ve tried to convey is that eating disorders and other maladaptive behaviors are about something much deeper than society sees them. You see the signs and symptoms and I feel the weight of the trauma every minute of every day. To this day I will chose not to eat because the internal war about what to eat is just too painful. When I do eat, I can never be full and satisfied because full means fat to me. If I do feel full, I must purge with laxatives to get rid of that feeling. It’s not a binging thing it’s an eating thing. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…. IT’S NOT ABOUT THE FOOD.

Understand this as well…. I’m done trying to live my life carrying my trauma and the trauma those two boys in adults’ bodies. I will NOT continue to be a part of the cycle of not working on my own trauma just to have mine and theirs to be spewed out onto other innocent and unsuspecting people. This is a work in progress no doubt, but the cycle dies with me. I’ve proven that I can live through it. Now it’s time to prove I can live without it. All I need was to find a coach to help with this and I did.

#Thispuzzledlife

The Pain Of Eating (Poetry)

The Pain Of Eating
Food and body image are painful to me
I hate them both and they’re painful to see
The memories of abusive things I had to do
It’s not about the food but look what his words they can make you blue.
Eating brings lots of pain
It makes me cry, just watch it rain.
The memories are never gone
And their effect is always shown
Please don’t look because I know you can see
What his words about body image has done to me.
#thispuzzledlife

Clouds (poetry)

Clouds (Poetry)
Have you ever laid on your back and stared at the sky?
And watch the clouds and sometimes wonder why?
People move around in a similar way
With purpose that move with little to say.
Pay attention to someone’s silence
It says more and they’re not necessarily violent
Quiet might be how they live their life
Without asking, you can see the resemblance of a similar life
They walk and you never see their eyes
Nor do you ever hear their silent cries
For the similarities you just might see
When I lay back and watch the clouds before me.
#thispuzzledlife

The Tomb And The Phoenix

The Tomb and The Phoenix

4.5.2015

“You have seen my decent. Now watch my rising.”

—Rumi

As cliché as this analogy might seem on Easter Sunday, it also holds big meaning for me in my own recovery from trauma.  I have made it very clear that I’m not a big ‘religious’ person per se. However, I do have a belief system.  I’m just not one that wears my spiritual beliefs on my sleeves any more than I flaunt my education.  Everyone has a spiritual belief system even if one says they don’t have one, which in itself is a belief.  Anyway, moving on….

One thing I’ve always understood is that psychology and religion more often than not, DO NOT agree on much.  Throw in a little Greek mythology and you’ve got a ‘hot mess’ for discussion for those with a closed mind.  I encourage you to have an open mind as I attempt to make a comparison/analogy from the standpoint of someone recovering from trauma.  I am in no way trying to offend anyone, as I respect that everyone has their own beliefs.  This blog always has been and always will be about ME and MY family’s journey.  If you find yourself starting to get somewhat annoyed, please refer back to paragraph #2.

open tomb

artist: Shannon Renshaw

As I think about Easter Sunday and what it has meant and still means for many, I want to attempt to describe to you where exactly I am and how I believe this morning as I continue to face my trauma.  As a child, I remember having Easter baskets left by the Easter bunny the night before in our living room for us to find first thing Sunday morning.  Ironically, I always seemed to get the same kind of candy and knick-knacks year after year.  I think the Easter bunny must’ve had some kind of secret ‘happiness meter’ that was used every year.  So…..”Easter bunny mom” remembered that gold brick eggs, Reese’s peanut butter eggs and Easter colored M&M’s became the norm in my basket. The night before, as a family, we would usually be dyeing eggs and watching the movie Jesus of Nazareth.  This is still one of my favorite classics old as it may be.  So this morning, I wait for our little 3 foot tall cuteness to awake and see what the Easter bunny brought him last night.

As an adult, the foundations of beliefs are the same but have a slightly different twist in a way that makes complete sense to me.  The question is….”Do I believe in the Holy Trinity and the Resurrection?”  My answer is undeniably yes.  There’s not a traumatic event in my lifetime that can come close to destroying that belief for me.  I was taught this at a very young age and is something that I still hold on to.  I don’t flaunt this because I feel that this is very personal for each person.  I also do not try and change anyone else’s beliefs.  Once again, I’m spiritual not religious so, my beliefs are somewhat different and are not exactly popular back in the ‘Bible Belt’ of the Deep South.  Oh, don’t get it bent, I have ‘beef’ with God for things that have happened to me as I’m sure most people who believe in God have also had at some point in their own lives.

After 2014 and the beginning of 2015, I have really had to do some ‘soul searching’ on several different levels.  Having lost numerous friends and family this past year in a variety of ways can lead to, somewhat, deep thinking at times.  Losing Sarah while subsequently leaving a void in my heart has really brought back a lot of memories of things she use to tell me.  One thing that has always stood out that she told me was, “Dana, you can’t give what you don’t have.”  This, my friends and family, is why I continue to stay on this very difficult and very frightening journey.

The Phoenix, in Greek mythology, was a bird that arose from the ashes of darkness.  Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by rising from the ashes of its predecessor. The phoenix was later adopted as a symbol in early Christianity. While the phoenix typically dies by fire in most versions of the legend, there are less popular versions of the myth in which the mythical bird dies and simply decomposes before being born again.

Phoenix

On Easter Sunday the representation of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the grave is celebrated.  While this is important to me, so is the representation of the phoenix.  I personally feel that I will, in time, also begin my own rise from the depths of trauma and despair.  While in the midst of traumatic flashbacks, memories, migraines and all the other symptoms that come along with a lifetime of abuse, it’s very difficult to keep this in perspective.  Some days, all I want to do is just lie down and die.  I often wonder why I keep trying when my efforts seem futile sometimes.

I can say that the love that Sarah and other people have had and continue to have for me in this time when I’m unable to love myself, somehow, has become a motivation tactic.  That’s not to say that I don’t get tired and life doesn’t continue to beat us up.  Coach Nick Kolinsky always taught me to NEVER give up until the game is over.  And well…..the game is nowhere near being over.  I know how to survive only one way, when I get knocked down, I get back up.  That’s how I made it through my abuse and that’s how I’ll recover from my abuse.

Sarah would often times remind me, “Dana, you didn’t become maladaptive over night.  You’ve had years of perfecting this.  Likewise, you won’t recover overnight. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.”  Yes, there were some 12-Step influences in her thoughts.  That was exactly who she was.  She would always help keep things in perspective for me.  She was also one of the few that I actually would listen to.  Oh, how I love and miss the special ways that she managed to get through the tough outer covering of my thick skull.

As my painful and gut wrenching recovery continues, I have the warmth of her words to guide and comfort me.  That’s not to say that I wouldn’t give everything I have to be able to consult her one more time.  My tears for her loss continue to flow even now. Sometimes, I have to imagine what she would say to me if we did have that one last conversation.  And this is what I believe she would say…”Dana, my child, pick yourself up and continue to move forward in every way possible.  There are people that are in your life both physically and spiritually to guide you through this process. You are going through changes which are part of recovery.  This process has never been easy for anyone and you’re not the exception.  I will always be with you as I have always been. Do the work and rise to be the great therapist that I know you can be.”

And with that….off to work I continue to go.

#Thispuzzledlife

Why Didn’t I Leave A Harmful Therapist

Why I Didn’t Leave A Harmful Therapist?

“The reality is that for most of us trying to overcome therapist abuse (regardless of whether it is sexual, emotional, spiritual, etc.) very few other people have any idea what we are going through (even the mental health professionals we finally get up the courage to see after the abusive ones to try and pull ourselves back together). And because of that, healing can be significantly more difficult than it should be.”
—Michelle Mallon

I’m having a difficult time trying to find the words to describe my experience. The therapist that I’m talking about is one who was very ego driven. She put her ego before her ethics. And when it came to practice EMDR it was done 4 days a week with no processing time. She was also a very dominate and alpha female. I just went along with whatever she said and then I started becoming sick and before therapy I began to vomit. She worked her way into my system and began working with my main protector to whom she gave a lot of attention to in order to get to our well protected children. All my trauma was turned on with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), but nothing was ever resolved. This form of therapy usually works well for those with trauma, but I was always in crisis mode making it very dangerous to use this method.
Mel and I were lied to more often than we could count. And she didn’t want Mel’s input on anything. Red flags were flying high and I was still about giving her a chance in the name of loyalty. She also knew that I wasn’t a snitch, so she never worried about me turning her into the state licensing board. My psychiatrist was also considering dropping me as a client because she was retraumatizing me. While having him prescribing my meds was impossible. Before I knew it, I had become trauma bonded to her just like my ex-husband. I feared doing anything other than what she wanted. There was also information that was given to an acupuncturist that was done outside of the date on the release of information form. I had become her emotional hostage. I was looking for the good times that I remembered about the promises that she had made and well…I came up empty handed.

therapist abuse

Like many times with other perpetrators in my life I became frozen with fear about what to do. So, out of fear I continued seeing her. It’s easy to say, “Well just leave her and turn her in.” But I was terrified to do anything. I became very suicidal and my behavior became very erratic and impulsive more than normal. The one thing I learned when I was younger was snitching gives you a very dangerous label. So, no matter what, I was not going to snitch.

Therapist abuse is using the imbalance of power in the therapeutic relationship to… Control, manipulate and exploit clients (https://patch.com/maryland/odenton/what-is-therapist-abuse).
Clients who have suffered abuse in the past may not be able to distinguish between what is a violation and what is therapeutic (https://patch.com/maryland/odenton/what-is-therapist-abuse).
The power and influence the therapist has, has a lot of potential to do a lot of good and by the same token it also has the power to cause severe damage that could have long lasting effects on the client (https://patch.com/maryland/odenton/what-is-therapist-abuse).

When I met “Coach” I was so afraid of professionals that I didn’t want to have anything to do with her or any other therapists. I related their position to fear and abuse. I was unbelievably scared of anyone that I perceived in a position of authority and would strike out at them and try to run them off. Coach saw through my pain and showed compassion instead. I was so hurt by some of the things that were done and said by the other therapist that almost four years later I’m still, at times, having difficulties in the therapeutic relationship. I trust coach 110% as a person. But her position as a therapist still frightens me at times especially when discussing certain areas of my trauma. I have always felt bad that she had to clean up and deal with someone else’s mess. But, I so glad I met her. After having such a bad and abusive therapist, it’s comforting to know that there are still some that are incredibly compassionate. And I got the best one. Yes, I’m very biased. Thanks, Coach!!!!
#thispuzzledlife

I Don’t Belong (Poetry)

I Don’t Belong
In a place where I have friends, I don’t belong.
In a place where I have family, I don’t belong
In a place where there’s love,
I don’t belong.
In a place where I have freedom,
I don’t belong.
In a place where I have beautiful children,
I don’t belong.
There is life where I hold tightly to living
There is always someone giving
There are always differences
I’m not like others
Differences that some might see
Frustrations that have me clinging to life
I try to hold out for 2 boys and a wife
So hard I fight what others can’t see
The many parts of me
The hope that I held for so long
In a world where I don’t belong.
#thispuzzledlife

Yes I Can (Poetry)

Yes I Can
Flesh torn with jagged scars.
Reminding me that this battle is hard.
The sun reminds me that light wins over darkness.
And the little things remind me of how I’m blessed
All of this brought forth by music and a pen
Telling my story about where I’ve been
Their pictures with beautiful smiles
They never fade even after a little while.
I love them so and this is true
Two little boys that say, “Mommy, I love you.”
So, I choose to continue fighting
Because their love is so inviting
One assignment after another
Because I AM their mother
As I walk with them hand-in-hand
Signifying to them…” Yes, my mommy can!”
#thispuzzledlife

Road To Heal (Poetry)

Road To Heal
I cry and tears fall;
Wondering how I got myself in this place at all.
My stomach churns not feeling good enough to eat;
My life looks like it’s been put on repeat.
Again I end up in a place of chaos;
Knowing that she took over again and I lost.
When will this torment end?
I will do it once and never again.
Hell, I live and Hell I received.
But this time is different because there’s no reprieve.
Dear God, get me out of this horrible deal.
So, I can get back on the road to heal.
#thispuzzledlife

I’m Sorry (Poetry)

I’m Sorry
How sorry can one person be?
That one person just happens to be me
The way that I self-destruct and scare people
It’s not intentional to hurt them and feel their tears
Some I’ve felt for days, months and years
All I’m screaming is that I hurt so bad
No one hears me not my mom and not my dad.
My screams are silent, and no one hears
Restrict blood and air and brought to tears
Eyes and facial features all swollen
Just wanting someone to hold me and let the tears fall
My trauma hurts like a searing pain
It’s a very high cost with little to gain
I’m sorry that I’m this way
I’m sorry that I hurt so bad
I’m sorry that you know me
I’m sorry that I appear to love life
I’m sorry that I joke around when I’m so miserable
I’m sorry that you love me
I sorry that you believe in me
I’m sorry that I’m broken and still me.
#thispuzzledlife

Wounded Healers

Wounded Healers

“Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.”
—Rick Warren

Psychologist Carl Jung created the term Wounded Healer. The idea says that a person is compelled to treat patients because he himself is wounded. The essence of the idea is said that going through our wound that we can allow ourselves to be recreated by the wound. Our wound is one that is continually unfolding through a process that reveals itself to us and thereby teaching us about ourselves. Going through our wound and realizing that we will never be the same again once we reach the other side, we then come out the other side where empowerment is born. This process is completely different than going around our wound. And this process requires actively engaging ourselves. This process also is potentially creating a new transformation. This transformation essentially has us changing from the “old” self into the “new” self (awakeninthedream.com)

The wounded healer only becomes able to help others, while continuing to do work on ourselves again and again, when instead of feeling victimized we can see that wound as an event and as a part of a more spiritual moment. And then we can see how our own suffering within ourselves, is reflected to the outer world in a way that helps alleviate suffering in both worlds (awakeninthedream.com).

wounded healers

What an incredible way to explain the healing process with reciprocal healing. I tried to make this a little bit easier to understand. I think that anyone who chooses to work in a helping profession, is on some level, looking to heal their own self maybe even subconsciously. The helping professions that I worked in were the medical and counseling professions. Maybe I, too, was subconsciously looking to help heal my own self. My dear Sarah used to tell me, “Dana, you can’t give what you don’t have.” What she was saying was that until I have my own trauma dealt with that, I couldn’t help others with theirs. And this has proven to be true. I want to help others so bad because I went through those professions. But my own trauma, after ignoring it for so many years, came along and broke my back. Maybe writing is how I’ll be able to help others. Maybe through speaking I’ll be able to help others. I don’t really know what path my life will take. But which ever way it happens is also one that I’ll embrace to the fullest.

I have worked with the homeless and addiction communities enough to know that that is where I belong. I have been blessed with the ability to see people for who they are and allow them to be individuals no matter what that may look like. I have seen and worked in some areas of lives and the country that would make some people shiver in fear. I never look down my nose at anyone because I understand where I’ve also been and the struggles within my own life. I have been, at times, unable to care for myself and smelling like last week’s garbage because I wasn’t able to muster the energy to get out of bed and take a shower. I have also been so caught up in addiction that my arm, legs and ankles were at the other end of a needle.

Most people see me as a fun-loving comedian that’s easy to be around. What they don’t see are the constant struggles of holding onto life just to make it another day. I’m so incredibly grateful to have had Sarah in my life for 15 years. The wisdom she shared with me and lessons she taught me are sometimes the only thing that seem to get me through the day.

Coach stepped in at a time when the term “struggle” was putting it mildly. She has also seen me fighting and struggling for the next minute. I now learn from her. The universe has made it possible and directed me, almost 4 years ago, in her direction. I am now her student and one day I hope to be seen as a “Wounded Healer.”
#thispuzzledlife

Her Name Was Sarah (Poetry)

Her Name Was Sarah
Very few people come
Into your life and leave a footprint
on your heart

She was the one that would start
By taking me under her wing.
She would also take my heart.

Our relationship was special and many
would see how incredibly
special she was not me.

She would first love me as an addict and
then as her daughter you see.
There was a special place in her heart that
was perfectly made for me.

Her tough love was strict
But I respected her so.
She wasn’t just a person
but one shedding hope.
She taught me many lessons,
and some were very hard.

She loved me through good times and
sheltered me from the bad

Who was this lady that never made me sad?
She was my rock and without her
I am lost and the grief I have for her
came at a great cost

She would first love me as an addict
And then as her daughter you see

There was a special place in her heart
that was perfectly made for me
Her tough love was strict, But I respected her so
She wasn’t just a person
But one shedding hope

She taught me many lessons
and some were very hard
She loved me through the good times
and sheltered me from the bad

Who was this lady that never made me sad?
She was my rock and without her I am lost.
And the grief I have for her came at a great cost
She would be disappointed at the
things I have done to the kids and Mel.

I can hear her saying, “Now what you’ve done has hurt both
Mel and the boys. You will learn a lesson and it will be hard.
Be careful about other people that love you,
you don’t put up your guard. You will end up
bleeding on people that didn’t cut you.

I still love you now like I did then. Don’t use my death as an excurse to drink, do drugs

and push people away. You pushed Mel and the boys so hard that they didn’t come back.

Think before you act, I’ve always told you. And don’t worry

every time you’ve failed. I’ve wrapped my arms

around you and given you a hug and helped you up.

It’s nice to remember such a beautiful person
and I loved her so much.
So much that it seemed to physically
and mental destroy me to lose her.

The day she died I lost the only rock I had.
It was very clear, and I was glad.
I can describe her in one word…. BEAUTIFUL.

It was nice to have a break from
the evils of the world we live in.
She was my everything and things
have never been the same since her death.

The number of tears I’ve shed
over her could fill up an ocean
She was a very special person to
me and her name was Sarah.
#Thispuzzledlife

Eating Disorder (Poetry)

Eating Disorder
Each time I look in the mirror I see things;
A distorted vision is what you bring.
I should be able to simply eat food:
But too many times I was told I was no good.

The scales where you show those horrible numbers.
I shake my head and start to wonde;r
Will I ever lose enough weight to be happy?
Probably not because happiness seems to exit my psyche.

What you do is kill in a way that’s called murder;
You always make promises that you won’t hurt her.
But piece-by-piece you break her down:
Lying to her about how that special number can be found.

But that number is not there because it’s constantly changing;
To reach the unattainable goal there is no ending.
Strive for perfection that doesn’t exist;.
I can kill for just trying “oh it doesn’t miss.”
So get ready to have pain and die in perfect order:
Your battle is with an illness called an Eating Disorder.
#thispuzzledlife

PTSD (Poetry)

PTSD (Poetry)
You wake me up to show me things that haunt me;
You don’t care who you hurt even with crying pleas
Slowly you take me to another place and time;
And honestly you should be charged with a horrible crime.

You visit me all day and all night long;
Can’t you see that I did nothing wrong?
Flashing of pictures stuck in my head;
No wonder so many people end up dead.

You don’t care and you hit my psyche with precision
Just another wound causing an incision;
But you’re persistent if only people could see;
You’re a killer of a disorder called PTSD
#thispuzzledlife

Law Enforcement And Mental Illness

Law Enforcement and Mental Illness

“If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always got.”
— Quote from Tony (Anthony) Robbins, American life coach,
motivational speaker, and bestselling writer.

The topic of Law Enforcement and Mental Illness is one that comes with strong emotions on both sides. However, it’s a topic that needs to be dealt with now. I’ve never been in law enforcement, but I have been a part of Emergency Services from several angles. I have worked side-by-side with different cities and their officers. I worked in Hattiesburg, MS and Petal, MS on an ambulance as an EMT-B. I have also worked in Albuquerque, NM with the homeless at a county funded detox facility. Those jobs guaranteed me working with officers from all police departments. And as my condition with Dissociative Identity Disorder deteriorated in Albuquerque, Mel and our family have dealt with law enforcement sometimes on a regular basis due to some of my behaviors.

I’m not in a position nor will I run down fellow individuals who have worked and continue to work in the field of EMS because I understand the stress, callousness and cynicism that naturally develops just to be able to survive doing that type of work. And I understand that they are police officers not social workers. Most people don’t have a clue about what is seen and experienced in that field. What I will say is this…. there has been and continues to be a lack of education surrounding mental illness. Granted sometimes the behaviors get out of hand and force is needed to keep the individual safe from themselves and others.

Recognizing-Mental-Health-Disorders-in-Others-1
What I’m talking about is the lack of education and training on mental illness that officers face. Sometimes having a Crisis Team individual to go out and talk to the individual can ensure less stress on both parties. Instead of immediately handcuffing an individual when simple talking to the person first could accomplish the same goal of getting someone much needed help. I completely understand that this is not feasible with all police departments especially smaller departments, in rural areas. Additionally, budget cuts in recent years makes this task virtually impossible.
Individuals aren’t necessarily prone to violent or criminal behavior. Does it happen? Sure, it does. But blanket statements are what causes stigmas that continue to build over time. Albuquerque had just started having a Crisis Team as we were moving out of the state.

There’s nothing like hearing someone hollering at you and looking down to see red dots on your shirt and not understanding why. Just like an episode of Cops, I was told to lay in the prone position on the cold concrete. I was then held at gunpoint with the red dots moving to my head. The male officer began screaming at me because he was supposed to get off work 30 minutes prior. The female officer was talking to me in a calm voice. Fortunately, I was wearing my medic alert dog tag that I wore because of another situation. She recognized the medic alert dog tag I was wearing and read the information. I was taken to one of the local hospitals for a mental health evaluation where I was subsequently let go.
This is just one of many situations that we encountered prior to leaving the state. Before I moved to Texas and Mel and our sons moved to Mississippi a crisis team came to our house wanting to know what the best way was to help with crisis situations. We gave them the information and for once I felt like I was being heard. There are many situations that happen like the above mentioned that could be helped with just trying to find out what the crisis is about versus being accusatory. And having the Crisis Team knowing what to do to help has changed how I feel about police officers and authority figures. We have a long way to go by challenging stigmas about mental illness. But I think it’s a start.
#thispuzzledlife

No One Heard Me (Poetry)

No One Heard Me (Poetry)

As a child no one heard me
As a teen no one heard me
As an adult no one heard me
I was loud with my voice
And no one heard me

I had wounds and scars
And no one heard me
I felt the heat of a bullet
And no one heard me

Their big hands hurt me
And no one heard me
My silent screams
And no one heard me

Holes in the doors and walls
And no one heard me
Who will cry for the little girl?
And no one heard me

#thispuzzledlife

Finding Me

Finding Me (Poetry)

The pain of laughter that everyone sees

The person before you is not really me

The funnier I am, the more pain I’m in

Maybe it’s wrong or some terrible sin.

I loved living life until these terrible days.

Now I live in a trauma filled haze.

Keeping those secrets has eaten a hole.

I’m no longer me but rather a shattered soul.

Most days I’m scared and can’t think

And to get through this life I feel I must have paper and ink

That tiny little town, the memories and secrets are held. 

It not Southern Comfort but a type of burning hell.

Friends and family from a time I once knew

Happy-go-lucky and not dark grey and blue.

The days I was carefree I was happy and nice

And if she asked me again, I wouldn’t think twice.

Two boys that are precious I wish I could hear

Held close to my heart because they are dear.

Far behind the smiles in pictures they just can’t see

How I hang on for dear life while I try to find me.

#thispuzzledlife

Peace (Poetry)

Peace (Poetry)
Peace is something sacred that many don’t find;
You can get pushed to find it and leave the pain behind.
The monsters destroyed us and that is a fact;
Peace is among the living when it gets too difficult to carry
the weight of the world on your back.

When life becomes to difficult and the pain is too real;
You must come to acceptance of the pain that you feel.
Life seems too hard and the pain I can’t describe;
And no matter where you go there’s no place to hide.

So you have to accept that this pain is here to stay;
Peace is what you find even if you’re no ok.
God won’t have me and the devil just laughs;
Where do I end up on this god forsaken path?

Nothing is given neither life nor death;
I’ll just have to see when and where I take my last breath.
Peace is what I feel with like walking in glue?

Tears fall and my chin begins to shake;
How much more am I suppose to take?
Peace takes over when nothing else will;
And I will take my last breaths when
I’m too tired to continue climbing this hill.

Or maybe peace I will find on the journey to find me;
Peace takes over when your will is through.
I find it when I wake up knowing
there’s nothing more I can do.
The weight of the world just seems to disappear;
Then peace envelopes you when your time is near.
#thispuzzledlife

Safe Place (Poetry)

Safe Place
A place that has no hurt and no pain
A place where I can go without emotional rain.
A place where the sun shines all day long
A place that could easily become a home

A place where I can hide from things that are bad
A place where I can go and never be sad.
A place where I run to where the monsters can’t see
A place that allows me to be me.

A place where I go when I’m not wearing masks
A place that I go and no one else asks
A place where I can go for my own soul’s sake
A place where I go that’s always safe.

#thispuzzledlife

Coronavirus And Social Distancing

Coronavirus and Social Distancing

Day 1: I have stocked up on enough non-perishable food and supplies to last me for months, maybe years so that I can remain in isolation for as long as it takes to see out this pandemic Day 1 + 45 minutes: I am in the supermarket because I wanted a Twix
—Sir Michael Tweet

With all the necessity of social distancing due to the Coronavirus, I am reminded how not too long ago I chose social distancing on my own. For a couple of years, I chose to have limited contact with the outside world so that I could focus on my therapy. Then I felt the relief of knowing that I had begun to heal enough to make some adult baby steps back into a world that could put me into sensory overload within minutes. I remember the many time I would begin having cold sweats and vomiting from having to go to Walmart or drive on the interstate or just to drive back and forth to therapy. My anxiety would get the best of me and I would, at times, must pull over at a gas station and try to get grounded enough to be able to drive the rest of the way home. And then to walk into my dark and cold bedroom and collapse on the bed for a couple of hours before I could even turn a light on.

It was a very lonely way of living, but worth the pain of the loneliness. Today, the social distancing I’m still separated from friends, but my family is just within feet if I need company. And this time its all about trying to survive a pandemic. I’m usually working on some type of therapy assignments. I’ve put in the work that could’ve earned me another degree but its all worth it. I’m going through a lot of growing pains in my therapy right now. Coach is leading the way and I’m doing the work.

Corona Virus. Virus Cells Or Bacteria Molecule. Flu, View Of A V

At times I miss my way of life in Texas, but I sure enjoy having people around that I have a lifetime of familiarity with. I continue to battle anxiety, depression and the flooding of memories when life was much more difficult. Now the battle is also about trying to dodge a virus that seems to kill anyone in its way. I’m trying to find a source of humor as I always do but I have a healthy fear instead. Solitude allows for people to focus on what’s important in life in a way that daily life tends to help distract. And for many people it’s boring or uncomfortable. For me, I don’t try to bombard my brain too much with news that’s scary. I just try to be informed and leave it at that.

I worry for friends and family and our nation at what’s happening throughout our nation and the world. But I also try to have a focus on continuing to help heal wounds that have opened. I look at my severely scarred arms and feel the pit in my gut as my heart also opens and drips red tears at days gone by. My misty eyes and brain tell me there was a time when the pain was much worse at the loss of friends. I still cry for my teammates that were hurting at that time when their worlds were changed forever. I cry for yet the loss of more friends that I’ve buried deep in my psyche until recently when those memories have become unearthed. I must tell myself that now my tears are about healing and they won’t last forever.

Growing pains hurt and there’s no other way to put it. Change is sometimes uncomfortable. Acceptance of situations and their reality can hurt. And becoming a new and better me continues to hurt with each painful step forward. Just the knowing of my own capabilities of breaking the chains that have safely kept me bound for many years scares me. Trusting enough to unbind myself as painful as it might be sending a pain and fear over me that cannot be described all in the name of healing. And to know that my tears and fears are validated as I do this work leaves me grateful with each assignment.

May everyone be protected and able to work on some part of ourselves while our nation and communities struggle to fight a pandemic that’s killing our loved ones. Work on relationships that are here today because tomorrow it could be just a painful memory. God bless our country and loved ones.

We have toilet paper—no worries
—unknown
#thispuzzledlife