Vacation Bliss

I have been in the mountains of southern California for the past week and it has been so blissful. My dad and stepmom live there, and my sister and I visit at least twice a year. The life they lead is storybook. When I go there I get to forget all my troubles and do things I never get to do on my own; shopping sprees, spa days, or just lay out by the pool and gaze into the mou.ntains without a care in the world.

That being said, all good things must come to an end and as I was driving home from the airport tonight I could feel the weight of my life starting to balance on my shoulders again. I did journal one night, but did not feel the emotion and connection that I normally feel when I am at home in my own bed, so close to my life that I can't help but feel everything that goes with it. I spent a ton of time with my sister on this trip, which I really enjoyed. I have learned not to obsess over trying to change her ways. She and I are very different and part of the reason why we had a falling out (among other reasons that had nothing to do with me) is because of my inability to accept her the way she is. I really do feel that I have grown and learned with my own changing that a person can only change if they want to, not because you want them to. I think that has really helped me in continuing to build a relationship with her.

Having so much time with her, we really were able to do a lot of talking. Something we normally don't do and I did my best to be supportive of her endeavors in life. A normal event for us when we are out there is to be handed the credit card and sent to shop til we drop. This time proved to be no different. Seeing as they live in the mountains, we are a good 45 minute drive from the mall or any shopping center, so we had a lot of car time. If you've ever driven a lot with a loved one, I'm sure you've noticed how much easier it is to talk side by side instead of face to face. Anyway, there were so many times I wanted to bring up the guilt I felt about her abuse and ask her if she blamed me for it, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I didn't want to dampen the mood plus I really know what she would say to me. I know she doesn't blame me. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I can honestly say I am starting to not blame myself either. I know there is nothing I could have done to prevent it and there was nothing I did do to cause it. I really think that what I am feeling now is just pain... pain for her.
When I look back on that session where all of this came up, the session that I had that massive panic attack, I wonder just how much of that was a reaction to talking about my abuse so in depth. Initially I thought it had everything to do with how I felt about my sister's abuse and what I viewed as my part in it, but now I'm not so sure. When I think about how easy it was for me to write that letter to my sister AND read it out loud in session, it makes me think that this was not what was affecting me so much that I broke down. When I think about the 6 page account of my abuse that I wrote and brought into session, I can feel the adrenaline start coursing through my body and the increased pace of my heart and breathing. When I think about the last three paragraphs we read before I had to stop, it makes me want to crawl in a hole. That feeling makes me think that the issue of my sister's abuse was just a smokescreen. I am really starting to feel that God was just giving me a break in the road I was on to allow myself to gain some healing in my relationship with her and to gain some insight in how I can help myself before I turn my attention back to where we came from. And where I came from is a deep, dark place where I will need His help the most.


Why was I strong enough to read out loud what I wrote to my sister, but the idea of reading what I wrote about my abuse is something I can't even fathom?

Why can I think logically about correctly placing blame where it lies, but yet my heart tells me otherwise?

Why is it so hard for me to let go of the guilt and allow myself to really feel what is beneath it?

Why does the prospect of just touching a toe into the metaphorical pool of my pain make me feel as though I am going to fall in and drown?

Why can I not feel the anger I think I should for the man who abused me?

Why is it I can envision forgiving myself for the hurts I have caused others, but not for the hurts I have caused myself?

Why was this the life I was supposed to lead?

Why was I chosen to bear this pain?

James 1:2-3
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

Power and Guilt

I hate feeling powerless. It is the main thing that slows me down in my healing. Sexual abuse is the most helpless and powerless thing anyone can go through, and my way of coping was to put myself into situations where I had as much power as possible and to avoid situations where I would be powerless.

Today's session started off discussing last weeks, how could it not? I confessed to having an awful day Thursday and completely numbing out the rest of the week. I avoided anything that would cause me to feel. We discussed what exactly triggered my attack, as well as the physical reactions and the emotional reactions that went with it. I am finding that I am very "dumb" when it comes to describing how I feel. Trying to explain what I felt during all of that was hard, but I finally settled on a word: Guilt.

That brought us to a discussion on the guilt I feel as it pertains to the abuse. Not only to the abuse I suffered, but that of my sister as well. I feel as if both are my fault, even though logically I know that neither of them are. That brings us to "True Guilt" and "False Guilt". True guilt is the emotion in conjunction with a guilty action. False guilt is the emotion of guilt in the absence of the guilty action. My guilt right now is all false, although regardless of its label, it feels just the same. True guilt has a purpose in life, to teach us how to change our ways and to look to God to forgive our sins. False guilt is a black hole. It consumes time, energy and faith.

When presented the question why I find it so easy to blame myself for both my and my sister's abuse, I was perplexed for a short time. Then it occured to me, when I blame myself, I give myself a (false) sense of power. If it was my fault, then there is something for me to fix. If I admit it was someone else's fault, there isn't anything I can do. I am powerless.

Continuing to provide a safe environment to heal, I was given the power to choose my homework assignment from two options. I can choose to veer away from the path I am currently on (the guilt of my sister's abuse) for fear of triggering more panic attacks, and determine what I would like to tackle instead of this, or I can stay the course and start by acknowledging these feelings in a letter to my sister. I can tell you even though I am going to feel so much pain initially, I am going to stay the course. I will not let myself fall into the habit of avoiding what is hard. It's all hard, and will all have to be acknowledged sooner or later.

In my effort to speak the truth, I am bringing this song to the forefront of my mind. This song is my connection to God. Every time I hear it, I feel as if He is saying this to only me, and no one else.


I found out today that my inner child is carrying around a tremendous amount of guilt. Guilt about her little sister's abuse. Reading through my account of the abuse in session today triggered a memory of a conversation I had with my little sister 12 years ago where she blamed me for being the reason she was available to him, and triggered a reaction so intense that I spent the latter half of my session in hysterics, hyperventilating and shaking so bad I thought I was going to pass out. Never in my life have I felt like this. I didn't realize I could hurt this much. All I can think about is the burden of her statement and I want to die.

Changing Your Thinking

Can you like a ch.ild? Chances are the answer is no. You are an adult and you view situations through adult eyes, using your experiences as reasons to help make your decisions in life. Sounds like a good thing, right? For most people, I'd venture to say it is. For me, right now at this moment in my life, it is not.

My inability to think like a child is causing me great pain. It is keeping me from healing the way I need.

Today in session, we discussed a few dramatic happenings in my life (which I will go into tomorrow or Thursday after it has all died down) and the things it brought up that are important to my work. There were actually quite a few that have given me some things to ponder. The majority of our time was spent discussing what I decided to do in order to sleep better at night. Last week I decided that I was ready to write down, word for word, the experience of my abuse so that I was released from the deep need to go over it every night before I fall asleep. This has been a contributing factor to having nightmares over the years.

I sat down at my computer to type it out, starting around 9PM and ending after 1AM. Sometimes the words were just too much. Taking a memory you have and attaching words to it is extremely hard. Words have meaning. Words have emotion. I had to stop a couple of times and focus on my breathing before I slipped too far into a panic attack. I was left with a 6 page account of everything I could remember that I would go over in my mind. Things I was afraid I might forget. I went a little bit further and wrote about some things that happened after the abuse itself, like the legal stuff, detectives, court, etc that I felt just needed to be told as well. I can honestly say that knowing I had everything written down and that I hadn't skimped on any detail, helped me give myself permission to not think of it at night. I wasn't perfect all week, but I did very good. I know it will get better with time.

Today I printed it off and took it with me, wanting her to keep it there, for fear of someone possibly finding it here. She asked me what I wanted to do with it at that moment. I knew that this question was going to be asked, so I had already given it some thought. I had a lot of options.

"Any decision you make is fine. I can tell you what I think is best, but what you have written represents probably the most powerless moment in your life, and choosing what to do with that should not be a powerless moment as well."

Reading what I had written out loud was something I already knew I was not going to do. I told her that I just wasn't ready for that, but I was not opposed to her reading it.

"Read it out loud or to myself? I can do either, ask for clarification when I need it, or we can go paragraph by paragraph. Your choice."

Knowing it would be hard, I told her to read it aloud, and she made the choice to go paragraph by paragraph to get more information if needed. We only made it through 3 paragraphs, but that was enough. Without realizing it, I tuned her out as she was reading, trying not to hear what she was saying. She stopped and looked up at me. I didn't even realize I was crying. That question I love was said next, "What are you feeling right now?". There aren't words for what I feel. PAIN. Not having the words to explain that, I told her I was frustrated with the fact that even going through every awful thing he did to me, I still place the blame on myself and cannot find it in me to feel anger towards him.

"Placing blame on yourself means that you had the control in that situation and the power to make the decisions. Were you the one in control?"

"No. I wasn't the one making decisions, but I had the ability to do something. Thinking that I had no control scares me. It's much harder to think that I had no control as opposed to having some control and not doing anything."

"You had no control. You were a child. You were doing everything you were taught to do. To not disrespect your authority figures. To not hurt others feelings. You are thinking of your control in the mind of Lily, the adult. Your life experiences and status as an authority figure to your students has given you the sense of control and the ability to apply that control to your memories. You have to think of it as Lily, the child. She did what she was expected to do and she did everything she could have done."

Through the tears and the pain, I learned something that seems so painfully obvious but something that I think is going to help me on my journey to heal. I can't think of this as an adult. I have to realize that my inner child needs to take control of this one. I just hope she feels strong enough to come out.

A Tale of Two People...

Two different people who lived in the same body... until the strong and determined Lily took over the ashamed and hopeless Lily.

It's Not Easy

Music always makes me so introspective. One of my absolute favorite pieces is "Rhap.sody in Bl.ue". I am listening to it now. Such an amazing piece. So many different movements... some fast, some happy, some slow, some melancholy. So much like life.
If you have the time, listen to the two parts I have linked here.

Session today went well. I adapted my summer goal from "not having nightmares" (not really something I can control) to "not thinking about things right before bed that cause me to have nightmares". That being said, I established a habit a long time ago to go through step by step all of the events that occured up to and including my abuse, mainly because there are fuzzy spots/gaps in my memory and I would always hope that I would remember if I went through it every day. So it just became something I did before I went to bed, like washing your face or brushing your teeth. Aside from being habit, there is a fear there that I am going to forget things and not be able to remember enough to work through it. Like I really could ever forget, but the fear is still there. So it was suggested to me that I write it down, that way I don't have to burden myself with the constant barrage of emotions and feelings that come with reliving the abuse every day. My first reaction was so point out that it could be found and read by someone, but honestly the fear was more in the actual putting into words what I see in my head. That is extremely scary for me. (See this post for a journal entry I wrote on this exact thing).

So as it was presented to me, I've put myself in a very contradictory circle. I am having nightmares because I am thinking of the abuse every night, but I have problems going to sleep if I don't go through it. I'm afraid I'm going to forget if I don't do that, but am also afraid to do what will give me the piece of mind to go to sleep easier. So my homework this week is to figure out a solution to my dilemma that I am comfortable with. It can be anything I want it to be... there is no right answer. But I know what I can do to help myself heal (and possibly hurt) more, and it isn't the easy decision. But life lately has been anything but easy decisions, so why should this be any different?

One More Time

I am sitting in my office now, listening to music and reflecting on the past 3 hrs.

I went to a different C.R. meeting today. This one is in my town, something I hadn't planned on doing since I have a very visible job where I live and was afraid of possibly seeing someone I knew.

During large group, there was worship then a testimony of a woman from a C.R. group in the town next to mine. Wow. So many things in her life connected with how I feel about my life, and even personal experiences we shared, however far apart. I can't imagine how hard it was for her to sit up there and tell her story. I have to admit I got choked up at a few times... you can just feel the pain she went through. It's very sobering, and I definitely started telling myself that I was a fool for being so lost and traumatized by something that wasn't nearly as bad as her life was.

After her testimony, the "welcoming crew" took me, another woman and a man to a room where we watched a personalized C.R. video they made, as opposed to the general one that I saw on Monday. I think they did a much better job of showing what C.R. had done for them and what it continues to do. After that, the guys left and the female leader stayed with me and the other woman to answer questions and talk. I asked a few questions that had been on my mind, then asked to speak to her alone. I still did not feel ready to disclose my personal struggle and reason for being there, but was able to ask more "intimate" questions when we were alone. She sat and talked to me for a long time, and I finally got the courage to ask her about how my current struggles with God would affect my participation in C.R.. She was very gracious and referred back to our speaker... every person is at a different place in their life with their relationship with God, and no matter where they are, they are always welcome.

And I really feel that. So many people introduced themselves to me, asked if I wanted to sit with them, and thanked me for coming. Not only that, they really seem like they are all friends. This group seems different. I was given the strength to go today, I hope He gives me the strength to go again.

As I end this post now, my music has just begun on " Take the Wh.eel". I think He heard me.