Guest Post: When Abuse is Normal, Normal is Abuse

Today I am blessed and honored to share Jenny Griffin with each of you.  Jenny is a friend, the Catharsis Coach and the intuitive behind http://tinyurl.com/lz9m4hd  

Jenny took time to sit down with The Brain Creative to discuss “normal” in terms of abuse.  She has important truth to share.  Without any further ado, here’s Jenny:

 

When Abuse is Normal, Normal is Abuse

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 How is it that healing from abuse and other forms of indoctrination can seem never-ending? That triggers can haunt us for the rest of our lives, and leave us feeling like the confused and frightened children we once were? It’s all about normal; your normal, my normal, and the normals we build based on others’ perceptions.

 Abuse is akin to a cult mentality – it kidnaps your sense of Self and replaces it with a distortion of what is. The abuser’s own tainted experience of reality becomes the normal on which you build your life. For instance, if someone tells you often enough that you are useless, or a waste of space, it takes over your innate sense of belonging and worth in the world and you begin to see out through your eyes as a waste of space. You might make yourself small and quiet, taking only the dregs of what remains to sustain yourself, not wanting intrude on the space of those whose worth outweighs your own. The normal you build for yourself is based not only on someone else’s perception, but an incorrect perception at that.

 The problem with distorted normals like this is that because we have the amazing capacity for such change, we easily morph our whole perspective to fit the new version, without even realising we’re doing it. I’ll use an example to demonstrate. Have you ever changed the furniture in a room, only to forget three days later how it looked before, or that it was even different? Or when you drive by a place you’ve seen every day for years that has been knocked down and rebuilt, do you easily recall what stood there before? It’s so simple to accept these changes that we do it constantly, with only some awareness that something has shifted, but whatever has replaced it is so permanent, so real, that whatever was there before seems a distant dream.

 This is the difficulty with healing from abuse. Sometimes the things you believe are so real, and so undeniably your truth, that you might not even know where the discordance in beliefs begins and ends. Others may perceive you in a (positive) way that doesn’t reflect your own inner beliefs, and until you find a way to make those two versions gel, you will find theirs difficult to accept or understand.

 Healing is a long, slow untangling of normals, to find the truth behind the fear that the distortion is true instead. It means re-aligning after each belief is let go, to find a new and more resonant normal, which may or may not last. It’s a matter of being prepared to shift, and shift again, as you discover which normals are yours, and which belong to someone else. And it’s about meeting others with the knowledge that they, too, have a very unique and personal set of normals that may be entirely different from your own. It’s as good a place as any to start.

 

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~ Jenny Griffin

Also known as ‘The Catharsis Coach,’ Jenny loves exploring life’s twists and turns through the lens of transformation. Her own journey through catharsis, a deep, deep letting go of ingrained patterns and beliefs, resulted in a feeling of connectedness, with the world around her and with that wise and wonderful voice within. Jenny has learned to engage with her life and experiences in a way that allows her to use the knowledge gained through them to serve others. When she’s not writing, she’s coming up with new ways to help people move through change with grace and ease.

You can find her at: The Power of Change
on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and
on Twitter

 

 

 

 

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Tell Me A Story. . .NOT

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Image via Tumblr

 

I am honored to be a featured guest blogger in Nicole Suzanne Brown’s Spiritual Wisdom Magazine. The topic? Stories vs. Your Truth. Are you being authentic?    Hop on over, give it a read and then tell me your thoughts in the comments below.  http://spiritualwisdommagazine.com/storynot-written-paulissa-kipp/

Related articles:  NY Times:  Authentic? Get Real  http://tinyurl.com/labue8z

When Sorry Isn’t Enough

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“Despair”

“Sorry” you say,

Hoping to erase the pain,

Yet my breath is shallow and my heart is crushing me with each pump of blood.

Sorry isn’t enough when ego clouds consideration

When the flames of your anger leap to burn me,

You’re angry that I am scared; that I startle easily when you enter the room unannounced.

Intent or not,

Sorry isn’t enough when behavior remains the same.

The sacrifice of doing what I ask for safety’s sake – mine and yours

Why does my past have to beg?

Living with the P’s isn’t easy for either of us

Please don’t make it harder when sorry isn’t enough

Tears and pain crush me

When sorry isn’t enough.

© 2013 Paulissa Kipp, all rights reserved.

 

 

 

When You Are All That’s Left

©2013, Paulissa Kipp.  All rights reserved

©2013, Paulissa Kipp. All rights reserved

WHEN YOU ARE ALL THAT’S LEFT

I have written and rewritten this post a total of 21 times over the past several weeks, unsure what to say and fearful that pain would leak from every pore onto the page. My finger hovered over the delete and publish button more times than I care to admit.  Ultimately, however, I decided that it was important to tell my truth, to own up to my mistakes and to share in the hope that it might help someone else.

Sometimes, things are just sucky – there is no way around it. Sometimes, we just have to walk through the pain, learn what we can from it and move forward with love. All else rises from that place.

 
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my 1st ever camping trip (If you missed it you can catch up with the deets here: https://paulissaisms.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/8-lessons-learned-from-my-first-ever-camping-trip/) and how it unfolded not as a trip full of wonderful memories, but rather as the source of a lot of discomfort for all who went. High expectations, too much trying to orchestrate fun, boundaries that were not respected, sensory overload and so much more occurred on that trip.

 
In the weeks since the trip, I have spent a great deal of time evaluating what happened. First, let me say that I readily accept my responsibility for what happened. I allowed compassion and a desire to be a friend to a person in need to cloud my knowledge of conflict of interest. As a legal assisting student, conflict of interest has been drilled into my brain since day one. Yet I failed to listen to that strong voice in this instance and the consequences were swift and harsh. Had that not happened, the trip would not have happened and the ensuing fallout would not have occurred. I accept responsibility for my lack of proper judgment. We managed to trigger and annoy one another; things were said or left unsaid by both of us that were hurtful. The person who knows your pain is most capable of hurting you with it – either by acknowledging or not acknowledging it. The fallout from the trip and the fact that neither I nor the person in need feels safe in terms of a.) me being able to express my needs or exercise my self-comfort rituals and have them respected or b.) the person in question not feeling traumatized (due to their own background) by being asked to remain within boundaries means a lot of change is taking place.

 
In the weeks following the trip, I have been terminated from my volunteer position at the facility where I taught journaling for depression. I have been banned from the program, . I have lost a support system that understands mental illness without having to explain to people who do not themselves experience it. There is tremendous comfort in a shared experience. I was nearly banned from attending a memorial service for a fellow student until the person in question stated that they were OK with me paying my respects but again “don’t feel safe being asked to respect boundaries.”
The person in question then used the memorial service to strut up to me with a member of their family and ask “How much do you and your husband hate me?” First, a memorial service is not the time or place to grind one’s ax. Second, I don’t hate anyone but I will say that I am beyond disgusted at being told that if I am claustrophobic or triggered by things next to my face that I should check myself into a mental ward. No, maybe YOU should stop waving shit in my face, talking for 4 hours non-stop or crying for 4 hours nonstop and my ability to handle the talking and crying has nothing to do with me being bipolar. I don’t know any “normal” people who wouldn’t find that annoying as shit.

 
The follow-up question: “Do you think we can salvage our friendship?” The short answer: There is nothing salvage because when a person states that your need for your reasonable boundaries causes them trauma and reminds them of their abusive parent, there is nothing. I cannot say or do anything that will make that person feel safe without sacrificing my own well-being. My boundaries are: Don’t wave bright lights next to my face when you know that gives me migraines and please let me have a quiet moment when I ask for one – either by shutting up or not getting offended when I physically remove myself from your presence or energy. The person in question needs to take time to recognize that by asking others not to express their needs in relation to the behavior exhibited, their own recovery is stunted. Not being able to respect the needs of others doesn’t help us to navigate the world in which we live.

 
I have learned many things from this painful experience:

 
1. Don’t allow emotion to cloud your better judgment. Ask yourself “What could be lost if I choose this?”
2. Sometimes, the person who knows the most about your scars are most capable of re-opening the wounds.
3. Simply because a person has a similar background, that does not mean that he or she a. understands your point of view or b. is not without his or her own biases toward how you choose to navigate the challenges presented.
4. In difficult interpersonal situations, accept responsibility for what you contributed but accept nothing more than that. It takes 2 people to have a misunderstanding.
5. Always allow your values to choose how you will proceed in a situation. While I harbor no ill will toward the person in question and wish them well, I have no desire to be a friend or support person. Know your limits and honor them, damn the torpedoes. The torpedoes will fly whether you take care of yourself or not.

 
So where do I go now? I am spending time in self-care so that my helper’s heart can heal. Right now, I don’t feel as if I have anything useful to offer others in terms of comfort, support, nor do I have the desire. I need to heal the broken heart before embarking on a new venture. I am continuing to ready the launch of the Creative Link online course and am finishing up the Phoenix Uprising Manifesto. Stay tuned and remember, never sacrifice your AUTHENTIC SELF for another.
Much love,

 
Paulissa
©2013, Paulissa Kipp

8 Lessons Learned From My First Ever Camping Trip

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Ahhhhhh. . .camping.  The great outdoors, s’mores over the camp fire, sleeping in a tent under the stars.  So romantic – until it isn’t.  This past weekend the hubber aka David, a traveling partner and I embarked on a trip.  Ohhhhhh we had high hopes and optimism for the trip:  lots of fun and sun, laughs and memories in the making. We loaded up the van and off we went.

LESSON 1:  Claustrophobia is unpredictable and presents itself in situations that one might not expect.  Especially when one has PTSD and panic disorder.

Yes, I have known about my claustrophobia for some time.  I did not think it would manifest itself on the ride up.  Yet the combination of cramped quarters with no real leg or elbow room, not being able to see around me much and items shifting and hitting me in the head brought on the panic.  The heart began racing, I felt as  though I couldn’t breathe and I had to ask to switch to the front seat.  A solution easy enough to accommodate.  We made the adjustments and continued on our way.

LESSON 2:  Tents make me claustrophobic if the wind is blowing the walls around my face and there is no room to move. 

We arrived and set up camp and went to dinner.  As we were leaving, I stepped into a crack in the pavement and sprained the ankle.  We returned to camp just as the rain began to roll in.  Lightly at first, then intense and  wind-driven.  We took refuge inside the tent and tried to sleep.  Unfortunately, the proximity of the walls to my face brought on flashbacks.  The hubber and I ended up sleeping in the KOA pavilion for the remainder of the trip.  It rained and was cold (50 degree highs every day but the day we left) nearly the entire trip.  Our traveling partner was disappointed that a) I was injured the 1st day and b) that she just wanted everyone to have fun and it was starting off poorly.

LESSON 3:  One can try to orchestrate fun to the extent that no one has any.

When one invests a good deal of time, energy and money into planning an excursion and has firm ideas of what to accomplish, visit, etc in a day, the expectations can become a burden.  Disappointment on the part of the person who did the planning and stress for the person who is unable to keep up for whatever reason.

LESSON 4:  Semantics can divide.  Triggers and boundaries are not one and the same.

Triggers are situations in which one feels vulnerable. These situations are called “triggers,” because they trigger the onset of symptoms. While people with the same mental disorder may share similar triggers, triggers can also be highly individual.  My triggers include claustrophobia, things near my face or throat and feeling as though any expression of my feelings is wrong, not welcome, will be punished in some way (withholding of affection, ending of friendship, etc).

Read more: http://www.minddisorders.com/Py-Z/Relapse-and-relapse-prevention.html#ixzz2Vj6faFes

Boundaries stem from a sense of self-worth and personal values.  They embody both a way of being and an expectation of how others should treat us.  My boundaries include room to move, time and space to process my own thoughts without undue pressure to respond before I am ready and not being expected to only deal with the needs of others to the detriment of my own.

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/addiction-recovery/2012/10/importance-of-boundary-setting-in-recovery/

 LESSON 5:  Boundaries that are not respected can BECOME triggers. 

Especially for those who have survived abuse, the disrespect of boundaries can feel like another violation and become a trigger for flashbacks and/or panic.

LESSON 6:  Those who don’t respect clearly and politely stated boundaries are not people you can count on to respect YOU.

LESSON 7:  I need to be given a chance to process information and environmental feedback before being expected to respond.

Demanding an immediate response when stimuli is nonstop (constant chatter, noise, yelling, crying, snarkiness etc.) only plays into the overwhelm even more.  If a response is needed, please ask if I need a moment of quiet or space to think.

LESSON 8:  Mental health stigma is more hurtful when tossed out by a fellow sufferer. Every person has a bias of some sort.

ACTION STEPS FOR DEALING WITH BOUNDARIES & TRIGGERS

1.  Verbalize and enforce your boundaries.  Clearly state what you need.   If you are at the mercy of another, try to level the playing field by taking back your power a bit.  If you are unable to negotiate a mutually affirming environment, focus on deep breathing and progressive relaxation.

2.  Remove yourself physically from the situation.  If a person or place are making you uncomfortable, move or do some exercise to change the energy in the space.

3.  When all else fails, remove the person or situation from your life.  Sometimes the only solution is to remove the toxic factors.

Remember, the only obligation you have is to yourself and your well-being.  All else is secondary.  Above all, love yourself enough to enforce your own limits.

© 2013 Paulissa Kipp

The “Just Wars” AKA The 4 Top Killers of Personal Growth

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Is there such a thing as a “just war”?  A right war? A moral war?  A needed war?  There are some who would argue YES.  What about the war inside?  The war of the mind that affects your  heart light and keeps you from authentically manifesting your magnificence.

Today we’re discussing growth inhibitors.  Unlike fertilizer, inhibitors include thoughts, phrases and behaviors that hold us back.  The stories we tell ourselves and the language we use even in our thoughts affect our action or inaction.

The top 4 growth inhibitors:

 

I just. . .

I just often precedes a statement that reflects conflict and internal struggle.  A dissonance.

For instance:

When discussing a friend who chooses to make decisions that may or may not be in his or her best interests:  “I just don’t want to see _____ homeless and unable to have _____. ”  Even though we know that we have no control over the situation, we want to be able to influence another’s behavior.  We don’t have that power.

“I just want them to understand.  I just don’t want to be the outcast” for setting healthy boundaries and taking care of one’s own well-being.  You can’t do both, dear one.  Personal growth requires sacrifice and self-preservation.  That often means leaving situations or people that have become toxic behind.

 Yeah but. . .

Yeah but often precedes a statement in which a person knows what he or she needs to do or that the advice or facts are true but isn’t yet ready to take action.

For instance:

When discussing healthy boundaries with family or friends:  Yeah but they’re family and I have to put up with them or there won’t be a relationship.  Yeah but if I don’t do what they expect, they won’t provide babysitting, etc.  Yeah buts come up in situations where we’re afraid of the outcome if we hold our ground.

 But it’s haaaaaarrrrrrdddddd. . .

Did that sound like a whiny 2 year old?  Good! It was meant to because that it is exactly what we sound like when we use it.  But  it’s haaaaarrrrrddddddd often precedes a statement in which change has either begun or is about to be embarked upon.  It is a reflection of inner resistance to change.

For instance:

The need to take time for oneself to study, meditate, do art or simply recharge.  “But it’s haaaaaaarrrrdddd to set aside the time.  I’m sooooooo busy, stressed, etc.”   The REALITY:  We all get the same 24 hours, dear one.  We each make the time for what we consider important.  Why can’t YOU be one of those treasured things?  Even 20 minutes to do what you love will make a difference in your outlook.

OR “I know I need to eat right/stop smoking/exercise etc but it’s haaaaarrrrrrrdddddd.”   Of course it’s hard.  Changing habits requires commitment.  Are you willing to commit to loving yourself enough to change?  You can’t punish yourself into self-love; you have to love yourself with affirming action.  Baby steps are fine but move yourself forward a little at a time.

I Can’t.

 

Intended to shut down uncomfortable conversations or thoughts, I can’t implies that you are infinitely limited.  But the word impossible contains the words “I’m possible.”  Trite, I know yet internalizing that truth is powerful beyond measure.

Reframing the “I justs, yeah buts, but it’s hards and I can’ts”.

I have a few journaling exercises to turn those thoughts around and manifest ACTION.

I JUST.  Take a moment to think about what you really WANT from a given situation.  Look at the change that needs to happen and identify YOUR needs.  Do you need peace, acceptance, self-love?  Identify how you can remove the toxic and create what you want.  Can you take a walk, make art, say “I choose not to entertain that thought/energy”?   When you have identified what you need, practice saying silently or out loud (in the instance of people who may be emotional vampires) “I choose not to entertain that.”

YEAH BUT.  Write down what is the worst case scenario.  Then decide what you really want from the situation and write down what is the BEST thing that could come from the situation.

Make a list of the difficult things you have done in your life.  What are the traits that you exhibited that allowed you to handle those situations.  You still carry those traits, dear one.  They may have fallen dormant for a period of time, but you have everything you need to make necessary changes right there inside your phoenix soul.

I CAN’T.  Write down your list of I can’ts.  Then in another column make a heading that reads BUT WHAT IF I COULD?  List what would happen if you could.  Then list small steps that you can take to turn the can’ts into I CAN and I DID!

You are a Phoenix Uprising!  You are stronger than you can imagine and you have the power to be anything you dream of.  Vulnerability is power, strength and might.  Strength is born from vulnerability – from being vulnerable enough to be uncomfortable and to walk through the fire to emerge a Phoenix of your own destiny.

Zen & The Busy Brain

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© 2013 Paulissa Kipp, all rights reserved

What happens when you combine acrylic skins, pen and ink, meditative creation via zentangling aka tangling and an explosion of color?  You get zen.  This piece began as a simple line drawing and through the process of building patterns, it built upon itself.  What does it mean?  The jester hat stands for mirth, the poppies for the beauty of the earth, mother earth, shoot for the stars and the labyrinth on the left represents the path the only we can walk.

Have you tried using acrylic skins in your work?  Skins add interesting textural elements.  Simply use a glass palette and peel the acrylic waste from the palette after the paint has dried.  You can cut it into shapes, layer several skins and no waste!

I’d love to hear how you recycle in the process of doing your art.

 

What Happens When Zentangles, Projectors and Cameras Collide??

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Photo by Olav Folland, Model Kat Folland, Art by Paulissa Kipp. © 2013 All rights reserved by the artists.

I am thrilled to honor to present a new collaboration with my friends Olav & Kat Folland.  Olav and Kat are very talented photographers and artists.  Recently, Olav obtained an old projector and began doing projector art onto his wife’s body.  Some designs have been Kat’s doodles and more recently, Olav put out a call for artists willing to collaborate.  I submitted my henna hand original drawing shown below to see what would result.  I am proud of the stunning way in which my work was interpreted and the courage of my friend Kat.

Go to Olav’s Google+ profile to see more of his amazing series and interact with him.

https://plus.google.com/u/0/113330053950020592701/posts

Kat is a powerful author, cancer survivor and talented photographer.  You can connect with her on Google+

https://plus.google.com/u/0/106644585677637197494/posts

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Spending Time With Mother (Nature)

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Spending Time With Mother (Nature)

 Today is Mother’s Day in the United States.  A day to thank Mom for all she has done to bear us, for the sacrifices, the love, the meals, the guidance and for her presence.  Mother’s Day has a long and interesting history.  Mother’s Day began as a progressive movement advocated for by a handful of activist women.

  1. In 1858, when Anna Reese Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker, organized “Mother’s Work Days” to improve the sanitation and avert deaths from disease-bearing insects and seepage of polluted water.  Anna began giving carnations to mothers in her Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia.
  2. In 1872, when Boston poet, pacifist and women’s suffragist Julia Ward Howe established a special day for mothers –and for peace– not long after the bloody Franco-Prussian War.
  3. In 1905, when Anna Jarvis died. Her daughter, also named Anna, decided to memorialize her mother’s lifelong activism, and began a campaign that culminated in 1914 when Congress passed a Mother’s Day resolution.

As the years progressed and commercialization of the holiday began to take over Jarvis’ original intent that the day be an intimate affair between mother and child(ren), Jarvis came to be disappointed in those who sought to monetize love and loyalty.

Source:  http://www.nwhp.org/news/history_of_mothersday.php

As the parade of pastel cards, memorials, tributes to Mom, flowers, dinner and even gardening centers benefit from the day, my thoughts turn to those for whom the day has a different meaning.  Those for whom Mother was not a nurturer, but the source of abuse and neglect.  For those persons, Mother’s Day can be a source of high anxiety and sadness.

For years, Mother’s Day has been a source of sadness and anxiety for me for a number of reasons:  My mother abandoned me at 8 months old, my grandmother and grandfather raised me and my grandmother was physically, emotionally and verbally abusive.  Mom, while occasionally present, really only dealt with me when there was a new relationship in her world.  I am incapable of having children of my own due to endometriosis and the resultant hysterectomy, so the opportunity to be a better mother than my mother(s) is gone.  As I near 50 years old, raising a child is impractical.  I was raised by parents who were in their late 60s when I came along; I know the disadvantages to both parties of that arrangement.

For those of us with abusive backgrounds, the saccharine sentiments on Hallmark cards don’t apply to us:

 

“You have always been there for me.” Huh? No.

“Thank you for always listening to me.” No.

“A mother is a gift from God forever.” No, I didn’t feel that at all.

“A mother sacrifices for her child.” That doesn’t work when mom abandons you at 8 months old and  your grandmother who raised you was abusive.

“Thank you for your love.” I only felt her “love” when there was a new man to show me off to.

So. . .what to do about this Mother’s Day thing.  This year, I will celebrate in a way that affirms me.  Today, I will spend time with Mother Nature.  I will walk with her, hold her in my hands, drink of her perfume, marvel at her beauty and the way she supports me, the way she has given me life and nourishment.  I will allow her to love me and me her.  Today, I will love Mother in a way I have never before.  I will define Mother in my own way and she will bring me peace.

© 2013 Paulissa Kipp

How We See It: The Nature of Our Worlds Book Is Now Available!

Bursting at the seams, so I have to share. I am proud to be published in Volume III of How We See It, A View of Our Worlds. This is my 3rd collaboration with a group of 75 artists of all sorts from Google+. The book is beautiful and I am so humbled to be a part of it. (I am on page 101) You can preview the entire book here: http://www.blurb.com/books/4293600-how-we-see-it-the-nature-of-our-worlds – private – private

So if you need a mental break, give it a gander. We are donating all of the proceeds to the National Organization of Women’s LOVE YOUR BODY campaign as in previous volumes.