Monthly Archives: February 2009

Grey skies to blue

blue-sky-collage1

Found myself getting off track a bit the past few days.  A combination of financial stress, weather woes and humanness.   Today I feel as if I am slogging through very thick muck and despite the sunshine things are a tad grey.   Rather than beat myself up for being less than perfect I have accepted that there will be days like this.   Getting outside of my head and just doing my best to ‘BE’.

Got set to do a run through of the workshop materials the other day only to discover that the DVD I have is not compatible with any of my DVD players or my laptop.   Turns out that I could only get it to run on a computer with ‘Vista’ operating system.  Needless to say I have contacted the company to get a replacement.  Kind of messed up my plans but that’s okay.  Test runs are built for just that reason.

Have had some ideas and input from a few of my friends and I am grateful for their insight and creativity.  My challenge right now is to get what swims in my head and gut onto paper.  Perhaps it would be wise for me to get a small group of people together and do a brainstorming session.   I need help getting clarity and testing my ideas.   My tendency is to isolate at times and that is NOT a good thing to do right now.  Not when I am struggling with other things.  I need outward focus with like-minded people who have positive energy and passion.   I need that interaction with others to keep me from getting stuck in my head.

Hmmmm…since writing the above paragraph I feel better already!  Yup.  That is what I need to do.  Stay tuned.

Blue skies ahead!

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Making it happen

Today I will begin working on fine tuning the mission and vision for ‘Voice Found’.  I’m moving forward to create a registered charity and am very excited!   I’ve had a few moments of doubt but a conversation yesterday with my ‘life coach’  helped me to get ‘unstuck’.   I am learning SO much through this experience and am most grateful for all the lessons.

I am really looking forward to delivering my first few workshops and hope that it happens soon.   There is so much need and the sooner we create a community of people who are better equipped to identify and respond to childhood sexual abuse – the better.  If even one child is helped, that is success.

And so – despite the occasional moment of self-doubt and fear – the charity ‘Voice Found’ will become a reality.  I will continue to surround myself with others who believe strongly in this cause.  I will continue to knock down barriers or at least leap over them.

So now what?

My time in Edmonton was truly amazing in so many ways.   I met some wonderful people and I even had a chance to see some of the city.  I have to tell you that I was pleasantly surprised.  Edmonton has quite a lot to offer and I would certainly go back again!  There are some wonderful shops on Whyte Street and for those of you who need the shopping mall experience, nothing can beat the West Edmonton Mall.  Sensory overload and a bit much for this lady.

The mission for the trip was happily accomplished and I’m now an authorized facilitator for the ‘Stewards of Children’ program and look forward to conducting workshops.  That part is clear.  I simply need to find organizations and individuals who are commited to resolving child sexual abuse in the community and conduct workshops.  (look for my next post for detail).

Here is where I am struggling.  The overall dream I have is clear.  I can see and taste and feel it.  The path to get from where I am now to the realization of the dream is not clear at all.  I find the unknown to be both exciting and scary.  I have some doubts in my ability and old voices come back to haunt me……  ‘You are not good enough.’  ‘You’re a stupid girl.’  ‘You are only good for one thing and that is sex.’  ‘What makes you think you can do something so important?’  and so on and so on.   I struggle to quiet those voices and believe me they SCREAM at times.  They are not whispers but shouts.  Shouting back at the voices has been one way for me to quiet them but I have made a new discovery.  I am learning to sit quietly with them.

It may seem counterproductive but by quieting myself and not reacting to the negative voices it allows me to look at the source of them without emotional attachment.  I can then make a choice as to whether to accept the statement or not.  I’m not saying I am good at this.  Hell no.  I still have a long way to go but I can see where there is some progress.  Had I attempted to take even one step towards realizing my dream even 6 months ago, I would have talked myself out of it.

I guess the thing for me to do is to keep the end goal in mind and to be mindful of the successes along the way.  Stay focused and alert to the signs that tell me what to do next.  Allow myself to be human and make mistakes.  Remember that I need not continue to live a life of feeling shame.  Listen to the quiet whispers in my heart and soul that gently guide me.  Trust myself.

path

path

Settling in

My trip to Edmonton was great.  Flight on time, no lost luggage, clean taxi and a really awesome room waiting for me when I arrived!  Arrived at the B & B around 7 local time and was so darned hungry that I threw my bag in the room, changed shoes and ventured out in search of dinner.  You can imagine my delight when I found a really nice diner not far down the street.  It was a really warm and inviting place and I happily settled into a corner table and had the best meatloaf and mashed potatoes I’ve tasted in a while.  Ahhhhhh…comfort food.  I did not linger too long as I was pretty tired and so made my way back to the B&B after stopping into a store for a couple of LARGE bottles of water and then a nice chai from the Second Cup.  Bliss….with much more to come!  This place is right next to a chocolate store, an italian gellato/coffee place and a specialty tea store!!!  I am in heaven!

I’ll admit that the days leading up to this one have been stressful for me.  Tons of emotion as I process new things that have come up  a result of doing the online course.  There were some moments when I feared I was not ready for this but then I realized that it was my mind playing tricks.  Facing fear is a part of eradicating it.  The past is just that.  Past.  Gone.  As I mindfully process and then release each thing I become stronger and stronger.  I am SO ready to get out there and help raise awareness and enable others to identify and then DO something to help stop child sexual abuse.

I am settling in to my environment and myself!

One more sleep!

Tomorrow is the big day!  Just one more sleep and then it’s off to Edmonton, Alberta.  Fortunately it looks like the weather will be fine for flying which makes me very happy indeed.  Flight lifts off at 2:10 pm. est and I arrive in Edmonton at about 6 pm local time.

Got over my fear of taking tests!  Seriously.  I was so stressed out about taking the test for the online workshop but as it turned out I had nothing to fear.  Scored 100% 🙂  (it was pretty easy and multiple choice).  Got a certificate which made me very happy.  I like stuff like that.  Kind of like a ‘grown up kids’ gold star! (note to self – buy a pack of gold stars.)  Now that I have successfully completed the Stewards of Children course, I feel good about going to learn how to facilitate it!

I have been blown away by the generosity of people and it will take me a while yet to process it all.  The fundraising efforts have been wildly successful and as of today I have raised more than my original goal of $1,000.00.  This means that I will not have to be too concerned about the transportation costs in Edmonton.  Getting to and from the airport and around town will be a bit easier now as I can take a few taxi’s rather than rely on public transportation.  Probably a good thing since I am the kind of person who gets on the bus that is heading in the opposite direction of where I need to go.  Ya.   My luck I’d end up in Jasper. (hear it’s beautiful there and it is on my list of places to see…another time)

I am teary.  I am excited.  I am determined and scared and ready to face what comes my way.

One more sleep!  Think I will?

Excerpt from my recovery journal…..

August 31, 2007

Lately I have been feeling so very good and whole and healthy. I am so happy that the foundation I am building within myself is now solid. This foundation makes the ‘bad’ moments not so ‘bad’ anymore. I am aware of lightness. I am blessed. Thankfully I know that I am not alone and I will recover from any moments of panic or depression. I understand now that I need to allow the feelings to come up, accept them, learn from them and then release them.

I wrote this stream of consciousness the other day after recovering from a particularily bad flashback. I am grateful for the gift of expression.

It was coming
It was bound to come
The ugliness seeking me out
It’s coldness surrounding me
My body so tired
Each limb heavy
Unable to move and yet
My heart is racing.
Out of control
my insides shake
Shiver

I can not stop the fear
I resist the giving in
I push away the memory
It will not let me go this time
The hurt needs out
It ricochets inside of me
Bouncing from gut to brain to heart to lung
This pain, this sorrow

Extreme
It wants to pull me under
It demands my attention
Let me go
I scream in anger
Release me from the torment
Or at least let me cry
Let me succumb to the sad
Let the tears fall

Sobs bursting forth
Propelled by the force
Of my anger
My pain
My disbelief that such a thing
Such evil
can exist within
such beauty

A quick update

Tired.  Happy.  Excited.  Focused.  Determined.  Sad.  Unsettled.  Amazed.  Grateful.  Scared.  Overwhelmed. Loved.

A few of the many things I am feeling …and yes…sometimes it feels like I am experiencing them all at the same time.  Today I will make a conscious effort to quiet my mind and ground myself.   Housework ought to do the trick.  Be at one with the dust bunnies.

With only a few days left till I head off to Edmonton and the workshop, I am thrilled to say that I am over halfway to my goal of raising $1,000.00.   This means I won’t be sleeping on the snowbanks and will be able to get transportation to and from the airport.  YAY.   In addition to the fundraising efforts, I have been completing the online course and over the weekend will finish it and take my ‘exit’ test.  I sure hope I pass.

The intent behind each gift that has come my way is overwhelming.  These gifts come in so many forms;  the outpouring of support, the words of encouragement, monetary offerings and the belief that we can make a difference.  Thank You.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

bench in rocks

A child’s safety is an adult’s job

We teach children about sexual abuse the best we can.  We tell them that no one should touch their private parts.  We tell them to stay away from strangers and to tell an adult if they are in trouble.  We block certain TV stations and monitor their time on the internet.   We put volunteers through screening programs and assume that when we send our children off to organized sports or church activities that they are safe.  These are good intentions and certainly requirements but it is NOT ENOUGH.  Yes, it is important for children to learn how to keep themselves safe but it is no substitute for adult responsibility.

Today I was listening to the morning news and heard about a 4 year old boy being taken into protective custody.  His father has been arrested in a child porn bust and he had used his own son for this purpose.  What struck me was the incredulous voices of the morning radio show dj’s as they were saying that the people arrested are seemingly normal people.  THEY ARE!  That is why as a community it is our responsibility to be stewards of children. In more than 90% of sexual abuse cases the child and the child’s family know and trust the abuser.

Here are some statistics taken from the ‘Stewards of Children’ program.

  • 30-40% of children are abused by family members.
  • As many as 60% are abused by people the family trusts- abusers frequently try to form a trusting relationship with parents.
  • Nearly 40% are abused by older or larger children.
  • It is uncomfortable to think about.  None of us wants to believe that the trusted adult could possibly be harming a child in their care.  It is unfathonable and yet it is happening!   It is our responsibility to learn how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

    It is a bittersweet feeling for me to be going to take the Stewards of Children program next week.  I am honoured to be able to learn how to deliver and facilitate this program and bring it to my community.  I am also very sad.  Sad that there are so many children who are suffering silently….aching to tell someone…perhaps trying to tell someone in their own way (kids rarely blurt it out..they tell in subtle ways).

    Kind of a disjointed post this morning as this is raising some powerful emotion and past hurt for me.  My writing at times may not be as eloquent but it is always from the heart…so let me share something from my own personal journal….

    June 25th, 2006

    The overwhelming feelings that I still can not yet name. Some are ones I know so very well like pain, sadness, shame and abandonment. Some are so new to me; moments of feeling accepted, revealing myself, being still, being connected and being assertive. The many, many pieces of me that are scattered all over, the parts of me that till now have never had a home, have never been allowed inside but rather have lived somewhere, hovering around me. These pieces are slowly starting to come together as a whole. Parts of myself unacknowledged. Parts of me shunned and pushed aside. The pieces of me that are a little girl who was not allowed to be a little girl. The innocence taken from me. Parts of me that had to lie dormant as I struggled to live. From that first day when my abuser touched me, until this moment 42 years later, I have not had a moment that I was not doing all I could to be the girl that everyone else wanted me to be. It was what I needed to do in order to survive. I knew no other way but to pretend. Hide my pain. Put on a smile and be a really ‘good girl’ and make everyone happy. I have been on survival, ‘high alert’ mode for most of my life. No moments of just ‘being’. No walks in the woods enjoying each breath of air and allowing myself to feel the peace without even thinking about it. Instead when I walk in the woods it is a conscious effort for me to enjoy it. I have to battle the unexpected sounds that scare me, the shadows, the feeling that I am not safe, that I will never be safe, that I can not just ‘be’. Today, I now have awareness of these pieces. I am now working to bring the child back ‘home’. I want to let the parts of her live that never had a chance to live before. I want the scared little girl to rest now. Let her be at peace. Bring the many, many pieces of me together in a healthy balance.

    Post Script – February 6th, 2009

    I am now whole….for the most part.  I am a survivor.

    Scared and empowered

    Today I began doing the online training course that must be completed before the workshop.  This is the material I will be able to ‘teach’.   I have to admit that it brought up some stuff for me and I found myself wondering ..for just a brief moment…if perhaps I was not ready for this after all.  That moment passed very quickly and I am now feeling even MORE determined.

    The statistics are staggering.  1 in every 4 girls and 1 in every 6 boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.  RARELY is it the ‘stranger in the trench coat’…they account for less than 10%!!!  These are people who children know.  These are the people you least expect.  Many times the perpetrator is someone in the child’s immediate or extended family.  Here is the kicker.  We stay quiet because we do not want to rock the boat.  It is too uncomfortable.   And this is not to blame adults for not stepping in to do something.  It IS scary and when you do not know what to do then you push it aside.  You deny its existence. You minimalize it.  You’re not too sure if something is really going on or not.  You don’t know how to find out.

    The program ‘Stewards of Children’ empowers adults to take action by educating, raising awareness and providing tools to help each member of the community to act appropriately.  Thus far I have found the course to be well thought out and it has provided me with new insights.  It will make you squirm a bit.  There are video conversations with survivors and law professionals who bear witness to the effects on a daily basis.  The remarkable thing is that these people speak so clearly and passionately and without a trace of  self pity.  I think this is really important as it shows that there is hope and that by facing our fears…by getting through the uncomfortable pieces, by finding our collective voice as a society…we CAN and WILL make a difference.  We will affect positive change.

    Hell ya.  I am scared and might have a bad dream tonight but that’s okay.  This is not about me.  This is about children having the lives they deserve.  This is about taking a stand and being open about something that has been a taboo subject for far too long.  This is about healing those who have been hurt.

    Voice Found

    btw…from time to time I will upload images from my own personal collection.  I do not claim to be a photographer but these are places and images that have special meaning for me.  This one is from a trip to the botanical gardens in Montreal…a beautiful waterfall in the Japanese Gardens…

    japanese-garden1

    Moving through discomfort

    Childhood sexual abuse.  The very words cause people to cringe.  It is vile.  Disgusting.  Horrific and unbelieveable.  Often there are no visible scars.    People know it is ‘out there’ but no one really wants to talk about it.  I don’t really want to talk about it…but I MUST.

    I am intimately aware of the impact childhood sexual abuse has on its victims.  I am a survivor.  Talking about this is not easy and I know it makes others as uncomfortable as it makes me.  That said, I am willing to move through my discomfort to bring a message of HOPE.  My own story now has moved from ‘victim’ to beyond being a ‘survivor’…..I am a fully engaged, whole, healthy and vibrant woman.  I am NOT my abuse.

    On the tab labeled ‘My Dream’ you will find a bit of information about my long term goal.  More immediate is my upcoming trip to Edmonton to participate in a workshop where I will become a facilitator for the ‘Stewards of Children’ program.  This program was developed by a US organization called Darkness to Light and the program has been picked up in Canada by Little Warriors.

    “Stewards of Children is a revolutionary sexual abuse prevention training program that educates adults to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse, and motivates them to courageous action. The Stewards of Children program is designed for organizations that serve children and youth, and any/all adults interested in protecting children.”

    Aside from the discomfort of this topic, there is another level of discomfort that I am overcoming and that is asking for help.  I am currently unemployed and so having to raise funds to make this trip possible.  In only a few short days my generous friends and supporters have contributed $400.00 towards my goal or $1,000.00.  I am most grateful for these gifts.

    Any readers who wish to help, please let me know.  Positive and loving energy is very welcome.