Category Archives: Gas-lighting

Being human…

Human
I started 2016 with high hopes. I was feeling good and felt strong. Then I spent over 2 months fighting off infections one after the next. I am normally quite healthy so to have 7 infections of various sorts in a row was very shocking. It finally ended and now I am back to my usual self. 🙂

Once I finally got better and stayed well, I decided it would be a good time to my art studio and a spare room painted. This endeavour is the only thing that really turned out since the beginning of 2016. Thank goodness for this!!!

And then April arrived.
My husband works seasonally at the only workplace available to people in our area. We live on the east coast of Newfoundland Canada and the only business here on the “north shore” is fishing. My husband worked on the wharf and the months that he spends at work are the ones that get us through the whole year. Of his 5 siblings that live here, 2 couples are retired and the other 3 all depend on the plant for their yearly income.
We were all ready to get back in to the swing of things and the crab plant was ready to run at full tilt… until it burnt down the day before everything was to really go wild for the summer. This means no work (or scrounging up a few hours wherever he can). It will devastate us financially until the plant is rebuilt in a year (best) or two (reasonable).

That alone was enough but then I found out that my hubby was sneaking smokes. I will not say a lot except to say that he has severe health issues that will only see him deteriorate with the smoking coming back in to his life. This causes me a great deal of stress because I love him and do not want to watch him to decline as he did before he quit. He almost died twice last year… it is scary.

Due to my therapist becoming a grandmother again, I did not see her for what should have been 3 weeks. It is now 4 weeks because the car broke down while trying to go see her this past Tuesday. IF next week works out, I will see her then. A full month of no therapy… seriously not at all good for my head space. 😦

The biggest issue this past week was even bigger to me because I was already so depleted and psychologically tired but that aside, I had a HUGE trigger this week that has just knocked me right over.
You may recall me speaking about my son Marcus and his death. I have not given a ton of details regarding his actual last moments except to say that they were horrific and caused by someone who should have loved him.
This week in my area (very rural – everyone knows everyone). A 5 year old girl was murdered by her father and then he set his house on fire to cover the crime. It is damn close to exactly what happened to Marcus and I have found this whole week triggering in a way that I have rarely been tested before.
The father had been charged with domestic violence 3 times yet the court dismissed the charges each time. Due to the fact that he had no record, he was given shared custody.
The mom did what she could to be heard but no one would listen.
And now her child is dead.
Trigger, trigger, trigger…

To add to those triggers, I was privately discussing the loss of Marcus when one of my Monster/mother’s friends interrupted to call me a liar. That just pi$$ed me right off and being seen as a liar is probably my biggest trigger. I know she is misinformed but it still sent me spiralling downhill at an even quicker speed.

These are the reasons why I was so quiet last week. I was just feeling so anxious, depressed, and triggered. I wanted to drink or just be done with this world and although I did neither one, the thoughts alone scare me plenty. I do not like it when these options begin to look like reasonable responses to the issues in my life.

I have also been feeling so very alone. In reality, I am not alone. I have my blog which is always a source of comfort in hard times, I have wonderful friends, I know good coping strategies now and life when I am more stable, looks really good.
Sadly none of this seems to be enough when things get really bad. I just feel terribly alone. I feel unlikable, unlovable, unworthy, and untrustworthy. I feel terribly unimportant. I do realize that my mind is playing tricks on me but it doesn’t seem to really matter in the moment.

Now the rebuilding begins. Self care, self-care and more self-care.  I have the skills to find my way out of this and I have supports to turn to but it is the actual action of doing it when my energy is so depleted.

I don’t write this to make you worry or feel badly for me. I write it because I can so often come across like I have everything together, that I am calm, capable and have my biggest storms behind me.
The truth? I have weathered many storms, I have managed to make huge changes in my life and I am proud of my accomplishments.
Some days really just “bite the big one” though and I am quickly reminded that I am human. Fallible, occasionally weak, messed up, and confused. So totally human.

My story.

Girl

It was suggested to me by a long time reader that allowing my story to be told might help reach others. I have hesitated doing this is the past because I just felt the details were not really important. That said? I do agree with this reader and have decided to share some of my story (minus the nitty-gritty) with you today. I do hope it helps you understand me better and I hope it reaches some of you so that you know that you are not alone in this fight for your survival.
I am going to leave my siblings out of this story because I do not feel it is fair to assume how they felt or what they went through personally. If there is a day that the ones still living wish to share with you? I’d happily post it.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a princess.
Scratch that. This is no fairy tale. 😉

I was born at the beginning of 1970 in a winter storm. A fitting beginning for the life that would follow. A winter storm of sorts that lasted decades.
I was born to a family that was quite wealthy and had every available support to raise a child as easily as possible. From other family members, I have been told about how my father was thrilled by my birth but my mother hated me from day one. Probably long before day one in reality. I am sure she viewed her pregnancy as a real inconvenience.

My beginning could have been a good one but right from the very start of my life here on this earth, my mother would begin making choices that would seal my fate and my father would not do anything to stop her.
Their first decision? My name.
Heather was the name of a girl whom my father and mother hated. She’d chased my father around and my mother hated her for it. This is the person whom I was named after. Someone they hated.

I have a few memories of my early childhood but none are good. From 0-4, all I recall is being afraid. Many years ago my grandmothers both told me stories of how I was left in filth and ignored while my father was at work. I was also told that I would scream and beg others to take me with them as they left our house or begged babysitters to keep me. That is just not normal behaviour for a young child. Wanting to leave with anyone rather than staying home with their mother.

Starting at age 4, I was given a gift of new underwear for my birthday. Not the best gift for a 4-year-old but they were a tiny hint as to what that birthday would mean. I would be sold to men who liked little girls and my hair was cut so short that I also looked like a boy and could satisfy men who liked boys as well. This was not a rare occurrence. It was done as often as there was demand and there was ALWAYS a demand.

It was also around this time that I learned to mistrust what people said vs. what they actually did. My mother could be the sweetest, kindest, most gregarious person to anyone on the outside but then a monster behind closed doors. It was her perfect “outside face” that allowed others to believe that she was trying her best but that I was a child with some real issues. She convinced therapists, social workers, a child psychiatrist, doctors, teachers and strangers that the problem was set squarely on my own shoulders. I was the one who hurt myself and then lied with crazy stories to cover it all up. This lasted for my entire life with her. It still goes on to this day! She is perfect while I have mental illnesses.

There was a lot of sexual and physical abuse but even worse than that was the sadistic nature of the emotional abuse. I was made to believe that I was only sold to men (and some women) because I liked it and caused it to happen. If there were bruises or broken bones? I had obviously done something to deserve that. If I got ill. that was my fault too. That woman (my mother) made sure that my self-esteem was now only low but non-existent. I felt less than human and not truly worthy of any kindness. This is the part of her abuse that is the hardest to get over or heal from. I feel like I am worthy and then someone talks about me or doesn’t like me and I am plunged deeply right back in to feeling absolutely worthless. My brain knows that I am a good person, that I give a lot of myself to helping others, that I am smart, and have a lot going for me but my heart still says “You don’t deserve any of it and you are just as worthless as you always were”.

I did try to speak out and I tried to reach for help but these efforts were always met with my mothers wrath. I recall being made to eat a “poop” hot-dog in a bun. If I was going to spread “filthy lies”, I was going to eat filth as well. After a certain number of times where I reached out to ask for help and having that come back at me with a vengeance, I gave up. I still find it hard today to speak up about it because my automatic feeling that accompanies this openness is fear.

There are so many details and situations that I could discuss but I am sure you get the idea by now? It wasn’t just a hard life. It was a life filled with monsters that never hid under my bed. They just stayed out in the open and did as they wished with me as often as they wished it. I many ways this abuse started before I was born and still continues today. 46 years of situations and stories that would make your blood curdle.
If you read my list of Helpers from last week, there are a few more details of which Helpers came in to being and when/why.

I wish I could say that I grew up, moved away and never had to deal with my mother again but I moved 3,500kms to get away from her and 2 months later, she was living 1km down the street from me in her newly purchased home.
I have not spoken to her in over 11 years yet she still speaks about me in public to anyone who will lend her an ear. She tells them lies and makes me look horrible. We live in a very small community and there are many people who have never even met me whom hate me with passion. I’ve been called a liar, a bitch, a whore, a selfish daughter and worse by these people who just believe the words my mother shares. Supposed grownups and mostly “church friends” of my mothers. I really try hard not to let it bother me but she has even gotten to my own children and 2 of my husbands extended family members. The words said under hushed breaths make me want to just run away again and never look back… or just give up and leave this world altogether. It is hard not to taint the good that I have created in my life with that poison. I am only human. It is hard to be hated and even harder to be hated for something you never were.

Sadly it is not only my monster/mother that drags me down like this. My father takes part as well. He is quieter about it but when discussions of how my brother abused me surfaced, it was his voice on the other end of the phone calling me a sociopath. In my heart I know that he believes every word and knows the truth but he is unwilling to face it and it seems that hurting me instead is acceptable to him. I recently cut off all contact with him and I know it was necessary for my future mental health but I feel like a 46 years old orphan who never knew what it was like to have a mom or dad.

I’ve felt very lonely lately. I miss those whom have loved and seen die by suicide due to their PTSD. I ache for my murdered son. My heart has cement poured all over it while my living children find their way home. I really miss the nurse I felt close to while in hospital and the doctor whom I got to know before his sabbatical. Now my current therapist is retiring in a couple of months and I must say goodbye to her as well. I know these supports are not meant to be lifelong friendships and I am good with that but it doesn’t make missing them any easier. These people got me, they understood me, They believed me and truly heard me. They made me a better person. I am just tired and I am trying to find and keep my spark. I will find it again. I have faith in that.

I’ve had some comments about how I do not share negative stories on my blog but I feel that my intentions are perhaps a bit misunderstood. I do not keep things positive because I want people to think life is just all great and I am flying high. I keep it positive because I have dealt with and still deal with more negative in the run of a day that some people experience in a lifetime. By remaining positive myself, I feel like I am adding to the good in the world and that somehow negates some of the bad. It takes a lot of effort on a daily basis to live a good and positive life but I almost always feel that it is worth the effort.

This blog is very important to me. YOU are important to me. When someone says that they heard what they needed to hear or got what they needed to get because of a blog I wrote, it helps me add to the balance of positive in my life. Thank you for that.

If there is more you wish to know, just ask. If it is too personal to be on the blog, I will respond with a private email.
All the best to each of you. ❤

Kind Words CopyHand drawn by Heather. For sale. $20
Buy an 8×10 “Be Gentle”

My Shame Story

I wrote a blog about guilt and shame almost 2 weeks ago. I have since realized that what I really discussed was guilt and not shame. I had them balled up together like they were one entity. I still think the blog was a good one and gave a lot of suggestions for easing guilt. I just need to go back and change the title to “Guilt” and take “Shame” out of there.

Since I didn’t know the difference (but thought that I did), I will explain it as I understand it so far. 🙂
Guilt is something that you can start feeling at about the age of 3 when you are able to do something and feel badly about it or someone else can make you feel badly for doing something wrong. We do not always own the guilt that is given to us but we are able to feel guilt at that point.
Guilt now seems to me to be the easier of the two to deal with. With a big dose of self compassion, quite often a good therapist or life experiences, we can learn that what we did or was done to us at various ages was either not our fault or it is forgivable.

My guilt was trauma based. I did not yell loud enough, run fast enough, tell enough people, force doctors or social workers to pay attention, run screaming to a teacher… the list is endless but you get the idea.
I have learned that I am in no way responsible for anything that happened to me no matter what anyone says to the contrary.

Guilt is also the culprit when we use words like could or should. I should have known better. I could have been smarter. I should have remained silent. When you look back and feel badly about how you’ve behaved or something you’ve said. That is guilt.

Shame… oh that sneaky snake of an emotion.
Shame begins at birth. Before we are even verbal. Shame is taught to us. Shame is the lesson or lessons that tell us who we are. Have you ever heard someone say “I don’t know why I was even born”? Perhaps you are the one who has said it or thought it? There is a reason it is said. A shame story was put on them in some way in the earliest days of their lives. Mom or Dad may say or feel “I don’t know why on earth I had this baby” or put blame on the baby for restrictions caused by parenthood. A baby can pick that up and it becomes shame story that he or she can feel for the rest of their lives. There are often no obvious words for our shame. We just feel it.
Shame is a cruel gift. Parents or caregivers often think that a pre-verbal child is too young to understand but they are very wrong. Seeds are planted and those seeds will become beautiful flowers if they are kind and gentle but they can also become weeds that are almost impossible to get rid of when the words are unkind or uncaring.

Shame is also the messages that we all pick up throughout our lives. If the base of the person is already damaged, shame given by the world around us is also too easily absorbed.
An example:
A child with a good base. A positive beginning can get called stupid because he or she made a mistake and they will often reply with “I am NOT stupid!” They may even run to a trusted adult to tattle on this mean person who called them stupid. How dare they!
A child with a shakier base, a more negative beginning may be called stupid and rather than fight it, they can absorb it. “I probably am stupid.”
Sadly, it is really easy to add to a shame story once it has begun.

Sent in by a reader…
Non-verbal shaming is perhaps the most insidious (as spoken of in the Dr. George Simon quote). You can argue with words but how do you argue with a sneer, a tone of voice, a look in the eyes?

Guilt is external and more easily verbalized “I did something wrong”.
Shame is very difficult to verbalize. “I am wrong.” There is something wrong with me as a person. I am not as worthy as others. I am not good enough in a very deep-seated way.

For me, shame presents itself first in the form of this thought.
“If anyone ever REALLY knew me, they would realize how worthless/horrible/stupid/_____ I really am.”
I have a very deep fear of being outed as a liar and assume I need to hide this trait… even though that trait does not exist in me. I was taught that lesson from my earliest moments in my life and still believe it to this day despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. My husband and good friends have actually said that I don’t lie even when I should. I can be a tad “direct”.
I feel less than… less than everyone else. Everyone comes above me. It takes a great deal of strength and practice to say no without feeling badly or for putting my needs on the chart. At all. Ever. I am working on that one.
I feel unlikable. While others assume that I am happy, chatty and comfortable, I always leave with the feeling that I have likely done something to turn them off of me.

The really tricky thing about shame is that you can KNOW none of this is true but these messages of worthlessness are far more deeply planted than rational thought.

The good news… you KNOW I have to end off with good news right? 😉
I feel that once we have found our shame and find a way to put a name on it, we can start to really question these beliefs. I do not for one second believe that I am suddenly going to get over all my shame filled thoughts just because I finally figured out what they were. It will take time and a lot of positive reinforcement from those who know me telling me what they see in me. Not buttering me up but truthful statements that I know people say to me already. I just have to put more effort in to believing them.

So… I hope you will answer these questions for me silently in your own head. You do not need to admit them to anyone. They are for you only.
Are you worthless?
Are you useless?
Are you deeply and irreparably faulted?
Are you stupid?
Are you selfish or thoughtless?
Are you a liar?
Are you a waste of space?
Are you ugly?
Are you a misfit?
Are you slow?

Now, take a moment to ask yourself this one last question.
Who just answered? You or shame?

Shame5

Shame

Shame1

Shame3

Shame4

Shame6

Blaming the Victim

There has been a huge news story about a town that is about 45 minutes away from me. A woman firefighter was being harassed and even exposed to pornographic video during a training session while surrounded by the otherwise male only fire department. This blog will not be solely about that case but it is where I wanted to start because the reaction of the locals in the area is sadly very normal. They have largely supported the perpetrators! Rallies to support the men, death threats to the female victim… I want to act shocked but I am not. This is the world that we live in.

My experience has been the same. Even as recently as two years ago. After exposing a family member who did me great harm and being totally willing to provide proof, my entire family turned against me. I was called a sociopath, my proof was never looked at or heard, I was accused of trying to ruin people’s lives and relationships… The person who did the harm and continues to do harm still sits at the family table on holidays, has regular contact with everyone including the children (I did call the authorities to try to protect the children). This person has never been called names or been accused of lying.
I don’t tell you this for sympathy. I tell you because this firefighter is not alone in being victimized and then being blamed for it.

As a society, what are we teaching each other when the victim can still be blamed for causing their abuse? I know that many of my readers will understand this blog from the inside out. I know that so many of you have been horribly hurt and then also used as the scapegoat. It is viewed as though YOU are the problem.

Someone gets raped. Society asks “What was she wearing? Was she drinking? What did she expect was going to happen?”.

A child opens up to an adult about being abused. Society is mortified if it is a story in the news about some unknown child but if that child is actually coming to them with that information??? It is with a very heavy heart that I tell you that most of society will not believe the child. They don’t want to get involved. The child must be looking for attention.

As an adult, men and women try to finally break their silence on childhood abuse but since these same people are now also dealing with mental health issued that were very often caused by that abuse? It is easy to look at the abuser and see them doing well in life but here is this mentally ill person saying that they were abused…
Who do you think gets believed more often than not?

I kept my silence for years because whenever I broke my silence, I was blamed. Now that I refuse to stay silent, guess who gets the blame?
“Didn’t you tell anyone?” I tried. I put myself in harm’s way for nothing.
“Why didn’t you run away?” Seriously? It started when I was still an infant. Run to where?
“Didn’t doctors/teachers/social workers find out or try to help you?” Red flags were raised so many times that I am sure a satellite over Ontario can see the red flags with the naked eye but did any of them ever take it far enough to actually help me? No.
“Didn’t you speak out when you were older?” Sure I did! I told a counsellor at school. I spent a whole afternoon with her. I felt heard and cared for. I thought she might actually be my way out… until I left her office and she called my mother to tell her that I’d been in her office weaving wild stories and I needed help.” Yes, I am serious!
I also know that I am not alone. I hear this story in different words time after time after time.

Even when we do take it “all the way”, it is such a waste of time. Several years ago, one of my children pressed charges against someone whom we had accepted in to our family. This abuse went on for almost 2 years and included other girls. At least 35 other girls. The proof was insurmountable and he was found guilty of 9 counts of sexual assault, 1 count of forcible confinement, and another count of uttering a death threat. Know what he got for that? ONE YEAR PROBATION.
… and I got his middle finger and a smile as he left the courthouse.

If a mature, married, well-spoken, respected firefighter gets death threats in 2016 for speaking up and making people face the crap they caused? What do you think women learn from that?  We learn to stay quiet.

I write this blog today because I want to offer another lesson.
Refuse to stay quiet. Refuse to allow others to shame you in to silence. You are not the one at fault here.
If you are in a good and stable place, stand up for yourself and do not back down. Even if no one believes you. There are people who do. They are just too afraid to admit it.
If you are in a vulnerable space but still wish to speak up? Do it anonymously or only to people whom you trust. Just do not allow that silence to smother you.

I no longer care who feels uncomfortable when I speak out. My silence allowed people to put me right back in to where I could be abused over and over again. Perhaps not as obviously but if you call someone a sociopath and refuse to even look at her proof then freeze her out of her family? That is abusive.

I have over 3,000 readers now so if the only thing we do today is refuse to allow others to blame a victim? Just one time? That will be over 3,000 stories that will be heard and believed. That story might even be your own… and I believe you. I will stand beside you. I will refuse to allow others to silence you.

What an amazing footprint we can have on the world if we each just affect one life. Your own or someone you know. Use the most powerful words that I have ever heard in my lifetime.
“I hear you and I believe you.”

Hear you

Stitched in.

This might sound weird but when I think back to my childhood and think about the lessons I was taught, I can picture certain adults sitting inside my body sewing things on to my organs in order to be sure they stay there and are secure. I don’t know why I have this vision but this is what I see.

My adult mind knows who I am and yet when speaking to my therapist this morning, I caught myself using a name for myself that is definitely not mine. I replied to a question about honesty and how I just can not allow even the tiniest of lies to escape my lips because “I don’t want people to ever find out that I am a sociopath”. After all this therapy, that word still comes in to my description of myself! Annoying!
I was only a very young girl when this word was sewn in to me for the first time. 4? 5? Maybe 6? Right at the age when I started noticing that my life wasn’t normal and occasionally said things that I shouldn’t have (according to my monster/mother).

“She can’t tell the difference between the truth and a lie yet. The other adults would nod and throw me a pitying glance.
Stitch here, stitch there. “I don’t know the difference between truth and lies.”

“Heather has a great imagination for sure!!! Hopefully she will eventually join us in reality.”
Stitch here, stitch there. “These things that are happening are not real.”

“Heather seems to have some deep-seated issues. She keeps hurting herself.” And the doctor who was kind to me the first 2 times I had severe bladder infections is now scolding me and telling me that I need to be more careful or I will cause real permanent damage.
Stitch here, stitch there. “Being hurt and in pain is my fault. If I was more careful, it wouldn’t happen. It is MY fault.”

“She just wants attention and will do or say anything to get it.” My tears, my pleading, begging, reaching out is now ignored by any adult who has contact with me.
Stitch here, stitch there. “My fear, my pain, my need for help are just my own crazy attempts to get attention.”

And when I had the courage to tell my father about that janitor at school abusing me? “He’s a family man. You don’t want to ruin his life.”
Stitch here, stitch there. “If I tell on anyone, I am responsible for whatever negative consequences they or their families suffer.”

Then add “She’s been diagnosed as a sociopath” to my teachers. “She’s been diagnosed as a sociopath” to my doctors. “She’s been diagnosed as a sociopath” to my friends and their parents. “She’s been diagnosed as a sociopath” was used to explain away ANYTHING that could not otherwise be blamed on me. Even to those who questioned such a diagnoses in a young child or early teen…. “Oh we’ve been to hell and back with her. We’ve done everything we can think of. This is the only diagnoses that the professionals have been able to state with any clarity.”
Stitch here, stitch there. “I am a sociopath.”

I didn’t even know what a sociopath was when I started telling people (professionals) who  asked me that I was one. Even at the age of 43, I went in to Homewood for in-patient treatment and I gave them my diagnoses of being a sociopath alongside PTSD, depression and anxiety.
It was sewn so deeply in to my core that even I did not know that it wasn’t true.
Stitch here. Stitch there. Sew her up. She’s convinced this is all her fault. A job well done!

Sociopath is not just a word to me. It is not just a diagnoses. I spent my entire life trying to be so honest and so transparent just so that other people would never learn my nasty secret. Honest Heather, kind Heather, thoughtful Heather, good friend Heather, educated/smart Heather, giving Heather… those were just elaborate fronts I made to hide the fact that I was a sociopath. I was more afraid of people finding out my real truth than I was of anything else so I lived my life proving that I was anything but all of that.
I knew the “truth” and was terrified others would see it too.
It affected every part of my life. I was afraid to get too close to people, I was afraid to tell them about anything from my past, I lived in constant fear, I could not trust anyone around me because I knew that if they ever uncovered my truth, they would dump me like a hot potato.

So here I am 3 years later. I understand now that I was brainwashed. I was force-fed the lie that everything that happened to me happened BECAUSE of me.
I’ve begun to really open up to others in a way I could not do before. I am learning to trust and I actually have a few people in my life that I can actually say I trust fully. That is incredible.
I know 100% for sure that I am not and never was a sociopath. My therapist actually says that I am on the total other end of the spectrum. I refuse to lie about anything and I care more about others that I do about myself more often than not.

So then why today does the sentence “I don’t want others to realize that I am a sociopath” still come flying out of my mouth? It was sewn in. Sewn deeply, fully, to many different parts of me. It became more than a word. It became who I was. I am Heather the sociopath.

So why share this? Well, if there is one thing I have learned over these last 3 years and especially in writing this blog? Everything that I have been through has also touched others.
Perhaps you are “the liar, “the attention seeker”, “the drama king/queen”, “the idiot”…
Maybe you are the “waste of space”, “the useless piece of trash”.
Will you ever get anything right? Are you the fat and ugly one? The horrible daughter, wife, mother or the male counterparts?

I have no clue what you were taught and I have no idea what was sewn in to you but there is only one way to work towards ridding it from your system after you are actually able to see that you are, and never were the real problem.
We have to open up those stitches. It might take a long time like it is for me or maybe you can just rip them out and move on but no matter how long it takes? You are NOT what was sewn in to you.
You are you. Amazing, incredible, fantastically human and therefore flawed yet still perfect. JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. I sit here nearly in tears because I just want to know you hear me and try to believe me if only for a moment.

I am Heather, the sociopath, the attention seeker, the idiot, the troublemaker, the cause of all bad events.
I am Heather, the writer, the artist, the good friend and amazing wife (just ask him!), the person others go to when they want the truth. I was told that I listen and offer suggestions with grace. That made my heart sing. I’ve worked hard on the graceful part. I am many things. Some good and some that still need work but I am NOT a sociopath or any of the other words that were sewn in to me.

I have a few stitch removers. Does anyone want to join me in removing a few unnecessary seams?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Stitch

Listen.

Listen

I read this quote and a flood of memories came rushing back to me of the moment when I realized I was actually being heard for the very first time. I’d grown so tired of not being heard, not being believed, having my words twisted and used against me, and just dealing with all the hurdles most childhood abuse sufferers deal with even in today’s society. I’d grown so tired of it that I had given up. Completely given up. I no longer even bothered to talk about what happened. Even as an adult I expected to be treated how I always had been and sadly my family still did exactly that. My silence was bought, paid for, wrapped with a big bow and delivered. Free shipping!

Then I landed in a hospital program for people with severe trauma and after a lot of talking, teaching, building trust and truly caring about my well-being, I realized that for the very first time in my life, I was really being heard.

I began to open up and allow little snippets to escape only to be met with compassion and the feeling that they actually believed what they heard from me.

To try to explain just how much of a liar I’d been made to feel I was, one nurse actually had to explain to me why I was not a sociopath. I’d been called that so many times in my life that I believed it with my whole heart. I told them I was a sociopath as part of my intake interview. This nurse had to explain why that wasn’t true and that everything I said added up. Everything.

Then he told me I’d been brainwashed in to believing that to ensure my silence. In the end he was right but I was MAD at him saying I was brainwashed. NOT ME! I though being brainwashed was for people who were not very smart or easily led. Apparently I was very wrong. I had been brainwashed in to believing that I was many things that I was not. A sociopath was only one of them.

Back to the topic at hand. 🙂
The experience of being heard and being believed fully was exactly where healing began. It was the pivotal moment when my life began to turn from what it was (a horribly sad, depressed, suicidal life) to what it is today. A huge change that all started because someone not only believed in me and heard what I had to say but he made sure that I knew he believed me. Other nurses offered this as well which was so greatly appreciated and it cemented what I’d already been told. In groups as I began to open up, they believed me too and showed compassion towards me. It was all VERY healing but the beginning of that healing was the because of the simplest thing we can do. Just listen.

I think quite often we get in the habit of wanting to find a solution or share a solution with the person who needs to get something off their chest. In my experience, this is really not what is needed the most. I think that most people sharing their truth just need to know you are listening and that you believe them wholeheartedly.

I know there are liars out there but as I detailed in another blog, 97% of reported abuse cases were in fact the truth. 2% stretched it a bit and only 1% lied. I think we need to worry less about finding the 1% who lie or the 2% who stretch the truth a bit and open our ears and our hearts to the 97% that are telling you something that is incredibly difficult for them to admit.

It is good to be involved in the conversation asking how something affected them or made them feel is a gift.  Asking for details or expecting a timeline that makes sense is asking for too much. Trauma memories are stored more like raffle tickets (tossed in a bag and shaken). They are retrieved much the same way. A little (one name) at a time. “Heather” might be on 25 tickets but you only pull one little part. That is just how trauma works.

This sadly is another reason why people who are traumatized are so scared or unwilling to speak up. When we do, people want to know when, where, who, what, why and they want it to all make sense. Since we can not do that without guessing, people assume it is not the truth. Surely you would remember all that if it was true right? Actually no. Not true. We get raffle ticket memories instead.

If you are ever so blessed to be in a place where you are trusted enough for someone to share their life with you (trauma or not)? Do them a favour and hear them. Just listen. You might be the first person that ever does.

Ugly

I’ve been doing craft shows 2-3 times a week now for over a month. It won’t even begin to slow down until December 6th. It’s been a great experience for the most part and I’ve met some lovely people whom I consider new “craft fair” friends. I’ve enjoyed hearing and seeing the public react to my art. For the most part, I am very happy that I took this leap of faith and put myself out there.
3 years ago? ONE fair would have done me in and I’d unlikely even manage that many. Heck, I had trouble getting there as a shopper let alone a vendor!
I’ve made sure to record this accomplishment on my “Accomplishment List”.

This past Saturday I had a new experience.
My mother/monster showed up at a show I was in. My heart sank and my anxiety rose but somehow I retained my composure. Of course I was feeling very uncomfortable but I was able to remain in control. I didn’t dissociate or run away scared.
I did not stay at my table when she came up my aisle but I did that for my own mental health and to avoid putting myself in a negative situation I returned to my seat shortly after she moved on to the next set of vendors.

I watched her continue her journey from vendor to vendor and saw her stop, point at me and proceed to talk nasty to her friends. This is where things changed for me.
In the past this would have REALLY bothered me. I would have gotten upset, felt the need to defend myself and likely fallen in to a deep depression with thoughts of how things would never get better for me. I say that with confidence because I’ve watched myself do it time and again for years.

This time as different.
As I watched her speak, I saw how her face got nasty looking. Her eyes squinted, her nose scrunched up, her brow furrowed, her head almost shook with powerful anger and she was doing her very best to make her point as clear as possible to her mates.
I saw her friends looking over at me in confusion because as my mother spoke so horribly, I sat at my table speaking kindly to shoppers, smiling at people whom I knew and somehow just not fitting in to the picture that was being painted.
Then I saw something else.

Rather than being hurt, intimidated, sad or defensive? I saw her face and it just looked ugly. My mother is not an ugly woman at all and most people would say she’s very attractive but all of her good looks left and were replaced by a pinched, angry, resentful, incredibly ugly face.
All I really felt was shock at seeing how ugly this anger made her and then doing a little scan of my own face, I knew that when people look at me? They never see that ugliness. It felt good to know that.

She decided as a parting gesture that she would tell the person who was in charge of the show that all my work was stolen off the internet and that I was selling copyrighted material. I did not find this out until later but once again, I did not feel defensive or angry. I just felt that ugliness again. This bitter old woman doing her very best to squash my new venture.
It did not work. I’ve had many people watch my work from the first scribbles of an idea up to the finished product and I happily offered pictures of my latest work from beginning to end as well as other crafters that I have done shows with that have watched my pieces take form over the weekends that we’ve been together.
The issue was resolved quickly and once again, I did not feel that crushing weight of being accused unfairly. I felt protected because I can prove that I do my own art at a moments notice. Just give me paper and a pen.
What a GREAT feeling.

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I do not see this powerful woman with the ability to ruin me any longer. She’s taken everything that I cared about away from me including my children. I have nothing left to lose that she is able to take. Everything else is up to me and me alone.
In time I can see the tides changing. I believe that others will see the same ugliness that I see and they will avoid her as I do. They will stop believing her lies because my character stands on its own even though it has taken me YEARS to have people see that. I am a kind, loving, and giving person (YAY!! A bit of self-esteem kicking in!). I do not harbour ugliness inside of me.

So it wasn’t a perfect day but it was a powerful one. I handled myself with grace and that means a lot to me.
That monster can do and say whatever she likes. Her ugliness is finally beginning to show and she’s going to be found out. Watch out my monster. I see you for who you really are and soon others will too because YOU are showing it to them.

I KNOW how hard it is when others belittle or demean you especially if it is a supposed friend or a family member. I’ve lived it my WHOLE life. There is only one surefire way to win though. Be the one that radiates a beautiful heart and a kind spirit and let the ones who wish to harm you show their ugliness all on their own.

Karma2