Sunday, January 30, 2011


I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness - why I need to forgive and how to accomplish it. For a long time the reason I felt I needed to forgive was because God told me to, as a Christian that should be enough, however this didn't help me know how to achieve it. It wasn't until recently that I realised that I couldn't answer those questions until I figured what it meant to forgive.

My mind and some of my little ones have been raging at me, why should we forgive HIM? He hurt us and he took pleasure in it and you want us to forgive him? The pain and anger with those questions is so overwhelming that it has left me shaking in the past. Anger is something I don't deal with very well, honestly it's not something I deal with at all, some of my parts hold a lot of the anger -but for the longest time I haven't been able to get angry, I simply hid within myself and let another part deal with confrontation. I am getting better at this, I now get frustrated and even a little angry at times. I stand up for myself more and I am more likely to voice my opinions. This blog has helped me with that last part. However anger still frightens me, even anger that comes from within (maybe even more so) and the anger I feel with those questions terrifies me.

This is where my epiphany stemmed from, it was from this that I realised why I should forgive: because I don't deserve carrying around all that negative energy, the anger, hatred and pain. Several dictionaries describes forgiveness as "to pardon an offence or an offender", to absolve*. I am starting to see forgiveness as more than this - to me, it is letting go of the hurt, anger, hatred. It is accepting what happened and choosing to live on without the negative energy.

I created this in Polyvore after I wrote this post and decided to add it...

The key word here is acceptance. When I say acceptance I do not mean pretending that what happened was okay - if what happened was okay then there would be nothing to forgive. By acceptance I mean acknowledging what happened, understanding it was beyond our control and choosing to let go.
understanding... accepting... letting go... forgiving...

Not that I am saying this is easy, it is anything but easy. And this sudden epiphany doesn't mean I have suddenly forgiven and let go of the pain and anger. I beginning to understand that forgiveness might not be something you just decide and move on. It's a process and sometimes a process that needs to be repeated several times.

I am starting to recognised that this is even more emphatically so when relating to myself. The few times I have felt anger it has usually been directed at myself, there have been times when I truly hated myself and believed that I deserved all that happened and more. Yet I hadn't thought really of forgiving myself because I do not see what there is to forgive - what happened was not my fault. And yet there are times when I still need to understand this, accept it and let go of the hate. I need to forgive myself.

*  forgive. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved January 29, 2011, from website:

Friday, January 28, 2011

January's Expressive Arts Carnival

The 7th Expressive Arts Carnival was published today. The theme is self portraits and the artwork is amazing. There are so many ways in which people choose to express themselves. There are so many powerful images, full of emotion in this artwork.

Self Portraits can be very confronting, particularly for survivors. The way we view ourselves is influenced by our friends, family, society, our past and by the things that were said to us by perpetrators. For me, the way I view myself changes based on when I think about myself standing alone as to when I think of myself as part of our system.

As I viewed the different artworks in this month's carnival, I could relate to different parts of each piece. They all invoked strong emotions in me and in some of the the little ones too. I felt the hurt, the loneliness, sense of being dirty, unclean and broken, of being separated and isolated, the sense of being disconnected - not only with others but within myself. But I also felt I large sense of hope, of healing and of love and acceptance.

I found Shen's series of art, which she posted on her blog, to be very challenging. The series was based on a metaphor from Osho's book "Emotional Wellness". I really suggest reading Shen's post, it quotes the book and talks about her process in creating the series.

I think when I have the courage, that I am going to have to try a similar art project. I think it would be a really good try explore what is under the emotions and the influences of the past.

When I was reading Shen's post I these words particularly stood out to me:
"I give the outside world and the past so much power, but in reality they have no power unless I give it to them."
This is something I can really relate to. I think it is something I need to remember and learn.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Expressive Arts Carnival: A Self Portrait

When I first read the activity for the Expressive arts Carnival I planned to submit Natalie's portrait that she did last year. However on the way home I started to consider the project and the way I view myself and I realised that this was something I really wanted to explore. As I spent more time contemplating the way I see myself I realised there was so much I wanted to represent.

I wanted to show how much hurt I still feel inside from my past; I wanted to show how fractured I feel living with DID but I also wanted to acknowledge how much I have achieved in healing and how much my self esteem has improved in the last few years. I was overwhelmed with how I could achieve all this in one portrait.

The inspiration for my self portrait finally came when I was reading one of Nadia's poems:

Staring in the mirror
We are angered by what we see
The reflection of a girl
A single face, standing in solitude
The mirror tells a lie

For a second the anger spills over

Unable to be contained,
The fist flies at the image.
The crash breaking the silence
Like a thunderclap on a calm night

Now the mirror lies in pieces

Shattered into a thousand fragments
Each containing a face of girl
Now we see our reflection
The mirror shows the truth

As well as showing how broken I sometimes feel with so many parts, I thought that the broken mirror was an apt metaphor for how the abuse has distorted my view of myself. I drew a number of drawings however none of them really captured what I was trying to portray. This is when one of my little ones suggested I try Polyvore, which they had discovered through castorgirl's artwork.  
Reflections: a self portrait
I am really proud of how this turned out, though it is nothing like how I originally imagined it. Despite this, I think it does capture all that I wanted it to. There are so many symbols in here of how I see myself I don't think I could really explain it all - I am not sure I understand it all on a conscious level anyway.

Having spent this time really looking at myself and the way I think about myself, I realise that I still struggle to not see myself as broken, as damaged goods. However, I am proud that a part of me is trying to fight that view and that while I still see the bad, I see good along side of that. I recognise that I am a strong, loving person, that I am creative and a good friend.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

When the Tears Don't Fall

Please be warned this may be triggering to some survivors
please take care of yourself


A few days ago I read castorgirl's post "Expressive Arts Carnival: Self Portrait". I was really blown away by her artwork, which triggered some very strong emotions for me.  I found the images very confronting and could relate to them on many levels. In the comments section I explained what I saw however it was castorgirl's reply which really articulated what I saw:
 I can see why you would see the perfect face people want us to present to the world, and the hidden damage we feel. That was another motivation for taking the picture – to show the dissociative coping, show how others see us, or how they want us to be. 
When I was reading the post and viewing the artwork there was a lot of internal conflict, for many of my parts and for me as well this images and some of what castorgirl said really reflected how we felt about the abuse of my childhood. The sense of feeling dirty, used, broken. It really made me want to cry, not just for the hurt we had, and continue to feel - but for the huge number of people out there who feel the same pain.

I still struggle with the ability to cry, to let the tears fall. Its not that I don't want to cry, because these days I do - I want to let it out and feel the release that comes from a good cry. In the last few years I have started to be able to cry - but I can still count the number on 1 hand. I believe the reason I struggle so much is because I was punished for crying and so I learnt not to, and now I don't know how to undo that learning.

Generally when I feel I want to cry, but can't, I draw the tears. Its not the same thing but it does help me to reflect on the emotions and to find a sense of calm. I have drawn hundreds of these pictures over the years and generally they have a similar look to them. This time, when I drew in relation to cartorgirl's post something different came out.

In this picture I didn't just see the tears I wanted to cry, I saw the deep hurt, shame and fear that I have been unable to face for years.

Over the last few days as I have been reflecting on my reaction to castorgirl's art and my own drawing I have found a deep sense of accepting that all this hurt is not my fault and that I did not do anything wrong. It was not my actions that cause my grandfather to hurt me the way he did. While I have intellectually acknowledged this for a while now, this is the first time that I have had a deep sense of accepting it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Home again and crashing...

It has been a very long tiring week and I fear I am crashing both  emotionally and with the Chronic Fatigue, because of it.

I am now back home after 14 hours of travelling over the past 3 days, the reason for so much travelling is that I had to make an extra trip for Ann's funeral which was on Tuesday. The funeral was very well done, and a beautiful reflection on Ann's full life and the love she shared with so many friends and family. I found the wake harder than the funeral - there were a lot of people and I was expected to be involved in all that small chit chat with people I barely knew (I didn't know a lot of Ann's friends and have never been close to her family bar Judith).

Now that I am finally home and I am alone, I am starting to come apart after holding it together since Ann's death. I am physically exhausted and my body  is aching a lot, I know I have pushed myself to far this week physically and adding the emotional stress of it all I am not surprised that the Chronic Fatigue is hitting me hard today. I tried to take plenty of breaks and rest but I did do too much.

Emotionally I feel numb, too tired to feel much more. However at the same time I am uptight and anxious and I am just feeling generally negative at this moment. I feel disappointed in myself too considering how well I have been doing and how positive I have been despite the sad events.

I recognise that it is okay to feel this way and I just need to take some time and take gentle care of myself in the mean time. However I have this fear that now I am home I will settle back into some old habits of last year and just give in to the Chronic Fatigue and feeling down again. Don't get me wrong -  am glad to be home, to sleep in my own bed, to be able to follow sleeping routines and other healthy habits I have at home that are harder to follow when I am away. But I am scared of the bad habits I have here too, I am already overwhelmed by the amount that I need to do around the house and I am feeling dreadfully alone in having to handle getting it done.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pranic Healing

I mentioned in the post Christmas at the Beach that I had been trying something new for the Chronic Fatigue. One of the things has been Pranic Healing and I have been meaning to post about it for a while.

Just before Christmas Mum told me she had invited a man over who believed he could help my Chronic Fatigue through Pranic Healing. My first reaction was skepticism, I do believe there is more than we really understand however I think a lot of clairvoyants, healer etc. out there who are taking advantage of innocent and usually people who are hurting. I think their are few gifted people out there to the number who claim they have gifts.

Anyway, I agreed to meet Steve and surprisingly I felt comfortable around him and my instincts told me he was for real. I have always felt I could trust my instincts and they are usually fairly close to the mark. I agreed to try a session with him.

Pranic Healing is interesting - it requires no actual touch. Steve began by reading my aura and chakras and seeing where the work needed doing. He than asked the spirits to help guide him and heal me, it was much like a prayer I might say. He had me lie down on a massage table and he cleaned out my aura. Both this and the reading were mostly hand actions about a foot away from my body. He asked me to focus on happy memories occasionally, to think of things that would make me smile and try and get me to hold on to those memories. He then focused on putting healing colours into my chakras.

 One of the things that Steve mentioned was that each of our chakras have little shields and that sometimes they get hurt or broken. I think this hit home for me because I often feeling that me shields are cracked - they have taken to many direct hits and wont hold up against much more.

Honestly I was still a little skeptical, but I had agreed to try it and be open and I believed for the most part I was. After that first session, I walked away feeling lighter but I actually didn't feel better until the next day. It was not a dramatic improvement but I felt more awake and less "clouded" in my mind. It might not sound like much but from the way I have been feeling this is a lot to me. It has meant I could pick up a book a read for an hour without exhausting myself.

The next day Steve gave me a call to ask how I was feeling, I explained about feeling more awake and less clouded however that the pain that comes with Chronic Fatigue had not lessened. He admitted that he had been focusing on energy and had forgot about the pain and the next time we worked he would work on that.

I had the second session two days ago. The pain in my muscles and lower back is less though not completely gone and the pain in my joints, hands & feet are still the same. He has given me some exercises which involve breathing and visualising colours to help with different things. I think I will continue with the exercises, I cannot really tell if they help or not but they are relaxing if nothing else. Overall I think Steve has helped, I don't think Pranic Healing holds the cure to Chronic Fatigue but I do believe it has helped make some of the symptoms a little more manageable, for a time at least.

I am still skeptical on a lot of these practices - mostly because of people and not because I think there is nothing to them. I think this comes down to trust and I find it hard to completely trust people. I don't trust very many people completely. Its actually interesting because many people have told me I trust to easily. But if I am honest I am usually open and trust people to a point - if they break that trust then I close of completely, but it takes a long time for anyone to get my full trust. I just don't think people realise that because they see the small amount of trust I give at the start and think it is all the trust I have.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Expressive Arts Carnival Activity 7

The activity for the Expressive Arts Carnival for January has now been posted (see here). Submissions are due 26th January 2011.

For those of you who are new, the Expressive Arts Carnival is something a fellow blogger and friend (Paul at Mind Parts) set up to bring survivors of abuse together through expressive art. Each month Paul posts an activity which survivors are encouraged to submit via email which are then published on his website. These artworks are published with full credit though pseudonyms are often used. Have a look at past Carnivals here.

This month's theme is:
Through drawing, painting or any other visual means, create a self portrait. Please also include a couple of sentences saying what the process was like for you.

I really want to encourage any survivors to participate, I have personally found that being part of the carnival to be very rewarding and the activities to be a great exercise of self-expression and healing.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mum & Me and defining healing

A couple of weeks ago I wrote Loss of Routine, in which I mentioned my relationship with my mother. At the time I had a comment asking if we were able to talk openly about things and since then I have been meaning to write a post about my relationship with my parents.

My mum and I have an interesting and complex relationship, in many ways we are very close, particularly since we spent so many years just the two of us (see here).  However we have made very different lifestyle choices and my Mum doesnt always understand my choices. This causes alot of fights and tension between us, particularly when I have spent any great deal of time at home. I think we are also amazingly similar in our personalities despite the different lifestyles, we are both extremely stubborn people who need to feel in control of our own lives which causes its own clashes.

I  have also always felt that I need to look after Mum as much as she looks after me. Mum has always provided for me and always been there in her own way. However she doesnt cope with things very well and I have always felt I need to be strong for her. In this aspect I have often felt like the mother in our relationship. My mum is not really aware of me looking after her and I prefer it that way. My mum is very particular about each person playing their "roles" in life and its her role to mother me not the other way around. However I am the only person she lets close enough to help her.

To answer Paul's question (can we talk openly about things?) the answer is yes and no. I talk to my mum about most things in my life and Mum has always shared with me more about her own struggles than most parents do with their children. But there are a few things that we dont really talk about too much.

My Mum is a very opinionated and strong willed person and she struggles to accept things that she doesnt understand. This is particularly so when it comes to things she doesnt understand in my life, and I think this is because of her love for me. However it makes any things in my life she doesnt understand to be difficult topics to discuss. The two things that this really limits our conversations on is my beliefs and DID.

Yesterday, Mum & I drove with Charlie & Rascal back from the beach house to my parents home. Andrew drove back in his car with Satan & Oscar (my parents dogs) which allowed Mum and I to have some really good talks, just the two of us.

One of the things we talked about was that Mum does understand DID or Chronic Fatigue and doubts she ever will however she realises that ignoring it or puting it down will not help me heal and she does realise I have been hurt & sick and need to heal. This was hard to hear but comforting at the same time - that my mum doesnt understand and struggles to accept my diagnoses hurt, I have always felt my mother and I are closer than most mother/daughter relationships and to know that she doesnt completely believe it all makes it so much harder to trust other people to be understanding. However knowing that even though she is struggling she wants me to heal and she wants to be supportive was encouraging. Mostly I knew these things about Mums thoughts on DID already, but to talk to her and hear it from her say it was good.

Another thing we talk about was uni, we discussed why I have chosen to stick with a psychology degree and why, something my Mum never particularly understood. She listened as I told her how I am struggling with comparing myself to others, that I feel in all aspects of my life I feel I am falling behind my peers and my life at uni is a huge example of this that slaps me in my face whenever anyone asks "hows uni going?".

I talked about Chronic Fatigue and how I was anxious about going back this semester and the fear that the stress of uni would set me back with the Chronic Fatigue and I would have to start healing all over again. Mum wanted to know why I was going back then and I was able to tell her about how I felt that I was disappointing her with how much I am struggling with uni, that I am so far from being completed. That the reason I was going back was because I didnt want her to feel disappointed in me further, that I am so consious of how long it is going to take me to complete my degree part time and I felt bad putting working on it off even longer.

Mum and I talked about me having come so far and that I should let myself have all the time I need rather than pushing myself too much before I am ready. She has encouraged me to withdraw from this semester (which hasnt started yet - starts in March) and spend some time doing a little volenteer work so that I am doing something and pushing myself a little while not having the pressure and stress. I think prehaps she is right, and knowing I have her support in this makes me feel it is okay to do. I am going to talk to Margaret (my psychologist) about it before I definitely do anything because I find talking things over with her help me to look at it in a different way and more confident in my decisions.

We also talked about how much she is struggling with Ann's death, we talked about her being depressed but she is not ready to achknowledge that she needs to allow herself to heal - she sees too many obstcales and wants to just put on her mask and keep going - because to her its the only option. I try to encourage her otherwise but she needs to see it herself before she will do anything. Its hard to see her in so much pain and not be able to help more. I listen, and I provide comfort, sometimes I encourage her to do little exercises I have tried or heard about, I tell her about options of help that are available but until she is ready to start healing and seek help there isnt much I can do.

I deal with her pain better than I used to, I recognise that I am doing all I can and that I cannot carry her burdens. I have learnt to listen and be supportive without adding her issues to my own. I have learnt to also take time for myself to process and let go after I have spent time listening to my Mum. Listening to her stregthens my own resolves in healing, I recognise that putting up a mask and "getting over it" only causes more pain and negativity in life. I want more; I dont want to just appear to be happy - I want to be happy.

Paul from Mind Parts said something in his post, Reflections on 2010, that struck a chord with many of his readers, myself included:
“I also have an appreciation for the fact that healing is really about living. It is not all about therapy. The work we have done has helped me live more of the life I want to live.”
I think this so well worded, it defines what healing is to me. I want to live life to the full, I want to be happy and content and I want to have the tools to deal with hard times so that my outlook on life will no longer be defined by them. I want to learn to look forward in to the future and not have that vision obscured by the past. Healing is the means to do this, its the means to allowing myself to live life to the full. Healing is about living.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Not the way I hoped to start 2011

New Years Resolutions are not about instant change. They are goals to achieve within the year, to create new habits and bring positive changes to your own life. New Years is a time to re-assess goals you are still working on, to reflect on the past year and consider what you want to continue and what needs to change.

As a new year starts many people have the expectation that this year will be different, this is the year that everything is going to be different. When something bad happens, usually a situation out of their control, they are disappointed and give up on their resolutions, and their belief that the year will be different. Change requires time, commitment and persistance as well as faith that it can happen.

As 2010 ended I really spent a lot of time reflecting and considering what I want to change. I sat down and wrote specific goals for 2011 and wrote notes on how I plan to achieve these things. One of my big goals is to be more positive - about myself and life in general. I have felt that I havent been living life (see here) and I truly believe that I can change this, but I also recognise that it will take work. In this way I believed that 2011 would be different, that this was going to be a great year.

Our New Years celebrations have been the same for so long that its almost tradition - a nice evening with my parents and Judith & Ann (sisters who are old friends that watched me grow up). Each year we spend here at the beach house, we have afternoon naps, then a buffet of food that we never finish - a lot fresh seafood, bread and cheeses. We watch the 9pm fireworks accross the bay and then watch the midnight fireworks on TV - the large display over the harbour bridge. There is a lot of champagne that I rarely touch, and just good company and food.

This year it was the same as always, after watching the midnight fireworks display on TV we wished eachother Happy New Year, hugged and kissed and went to bed. Around 3am I was awoken by the sounds of the ambulance taking Ann away. At 4:30am my Mum told me that Ann had died of a heart attack and she was going to the hospital to pick Judith up. Everyone was in so much shock. Ann was 68 years old, hadnt been to a doctor in 12 years because she had seemed perfectly healthy. She did not have any chest pains, or any other of the early warning signs.

On the whole everyone is trying to be as positive as possible - Ann lived a full life, had done all of the things she had wanted, her last evening was filled with happiness, eating food she enjoyed and surrounded by people she loved and who loved her. She did not suffer.

I have been so shocked, and I have been so tired, aching and had pain in my joints and lower back (from the base of my shoulder blades down). My guess is with the emotional stress of everything the Chronic Fatigue has flaired up. Feeling so down and having the year start like this made me doubt that I could make those changes, made me want to just give up on my resolutions before I had even started to work on them. However I realised that if I did that it would be my choice - not the situation, but my choice to let the situation influence my resolution.