Bruised, Not Broken A Survival Story TRIGGER ALERT

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Bruised, Not Broken – A Survival Story

 

My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me.  I am the face of abuse and recovery.  I have survived child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault.  I am stronger than what has happened to me, but what has happened creeps into the shadows when I least expect it and response will always be present.

 

A little about me:  For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Paulissa Kipp.  I have been a Women Against Violence sexual assault/ domestic violence victim’s advocate for 20 years.  This conversation may be disturbing.  If at any time you’d like to take a break and regroup, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

The story I’m about to tell you is mine.  I was 22 years old.  I left Nebraska for a romanticized ideal of being taken care of.  Every relationship red flag that I will discuss was present but I was young, opinionated, and most of all, naïve. 

The relationship started easily enough. 

Here he comes.  The truck and ladders lumbered down the lane with a loud clank.  3:47 am.  He’s been gone for three days, no phone call (the phone was actually working but he didn’t call), no food in the house except for 2 packets of oatmeal, and here he comes rolling in at 3:47 am drunk.  He fumbles with the keys, singing “Yellow Submarine” at the top of his lungs.  He finally gets the door open.

He asks me for a kiss.  The smell of whiskey nearly makes me sick.  “What’s wrong you don’t love me?” 

“You’ve been gone for three days!  Do you even know how many days you were gone?  The police are looking for you because I filed a missing person’s report.”

“I told you I was looking for work in Oklahoma City.”

“I know what you told me”.

I didn’t see it coming.  The force knocked me backwards.  I could feel my broken teeth and my jaw hurt.  I ran into the bathroom and pushed the dresser against the door and held it. He came through the door and choked me until I gasped for air.  I ran down the basement stairs and shut myself into the storm cellar.  I felt the knife whip the air as it passed my head and grazed my ear. The footsteps overhead grew louder as glass shattered.  The house gradually became quiet.  I took my shoes off and tiptoed through the house. I gathered a bag of clothing, my legal documents, and walked to the front door.  As the door opened, he stood up and lunged toward me.  The bullet grazed my hip. My ankle twisting, I broke free and walked 3 miles on a broken ankle for help. I am one of the lucky ones.  I lived to tell the story.

Abuse causes many cracks in the veneer of the soul. Healing from abuse is a slow recovery process. It requires a courage that does not come naturally. It often requires counseling and brutal honesty. It requires forgiveness, but not forgetting. It requires not being a bystander. It requires making a stand and saying “Not on my watch, not me, not you and not your child. It requires faith, even when you don’t know if the wound will heal. It requires acknowledging that we are all broken in some way. In the words of Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets through.”

All violence is the result of people tricking themselves into believing that their pain derives from other people and that consequently those people deserve to be punished.  Often abusers punish while professing love.

You might ask yourself how do we combat violence?  Violence isn’t just what lurks on the surface; it goes deeper than that.  As Jiddu Krishnamurti points out, “Violence is not merely killing another. It is violence when we use a sharp word, when we make a gesture to brush away a person, when we obey because there is fear. So violence isn’t merely organized butchery in the name of God, in the name of society or country. Violence is much more subtle, much deeper, and we are inquiring into the very depths of violence.”  Begin by speaking for those who are unable. Don’t ask why did he or she stay? Ask why do batterers, rapists and molesters do what THEY do and work to combat it. Yes, I’ve been there and can tell you it’s not as easy as it might seem. If you are being abused, have a safety plan (if you don’t know how to set one up, call the national domestic violence hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). 

I have spent a lot of time working on myself, learning to be vulnerable, to love myself, to find my own worth, to value the things I do well, to not give others the power I should keep for myself and to learn how to feed myself and my soul what it needs.  

So dear friends, this has been very long and if you made it to the end – THANK YOU!  The things that I am learning are these:

A caterpillar only remains in the cocoon for so long.  Eventually, it has to break out of its shell to become what it is destined to become.  So it is with our lives as well.  

The things we give the most of are the very things that we need most desperately.

No matter how painful our past or present is, we do not have the right to project that pain onto others and punish them for past hurts.  No matter our past or present circumstances, we have a choice.  We can choose better.  I have a lot I could be bitter about.  For the most part, I’m not bitter.  Why?  Because if I am bitter, that means that I have nothing worthwhile to offer the world and that would be a waste of my potential and ability to love.

 

A Gift For You! Open It – You’ll Never Be The Same

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Beloved,

The fact that you are still here and still being a Phoenix rising shows that you DO value yourself. It takes courage to face challenges, survive and to want to make a change. Maybe you don’t value yourself as much as you would like, but the spark is there and will be fanned into a flame that will burn brightly.

It has to begin with you – with offering your unique gifts. You weren’t meant to fit in amongst the mediocre, you were meant to SHINE. We are given a box of gifts at birth, it is our job to hand that box back at the end of our days and say “There is nothing left – I used it all up.”

When we do our me-work (the Beauty Uprising, self-development and self-awareness) because we are worth it, we learn that through vulnerability comes strength. We break ourselves down and get rid of the crap that no longer serves us – negative views of ourselves, habits that perpetuate cycles of defeat, relationships that no longer affirm our worth and we act from of place of love. You’ve beaten yourself up long enough, hon.

I challenge you to do some mirror work. There is a very specific reason: By looking into the mirror, we see ourselves as we are: human. Each day I would like you to look in the mirror and say the following ( a paulissaism that helped me tremendously in my path and perhaps it will help someone else):

I am ENOUGH
-Smart ENOUGH
-Worth ENOUGH
-Loved ENOUGH
ENOUGH. I am.

You may feel funny at first and that it is OK. You may feel phony or feel lots of resistance and that is OK too. The most valuable lessons are found when we are uncomfortable. That is where the growth happens. Fake it until you make. Say this until you believe in your heart of hearts that you truly are enough, in the state in which you are now because you are a Phoenix and you are rising!

Don’t be a yeah but either. . .you know “Yeah but it’s hardddddddd”. Yes it is hard but you are worth every effort. Mega hugs and lots of love. Hope some of this helps.

You Are Seen

You Are Seen

© 2012 Paulissa Kipp Hello BraveHearts! Here at Pardon My Muse we talk often about love:  self-love and love for others.  We foster humanity through love and believe that love is always the answer.  In the spirit of love, I … Continue reading

Time to Break Through The Wall of Silence

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Time to Break The Wall of Silence

Okey dokey,

I am feeling verrryyyyyy vulnerable but I know that I am amongst friends so it is time to talk because I am processing a lottttttttt of information but I am committed to authentically facing the challenges and joys in my life.  Here goes:  We have finally arrived at an official mental health diagnosis and it is a bit much to take in.  Here it is:  PTSD/anxiety disorder/adult ADD/bipolar disorder.  I hit every single hallmark for all of the above.  Damn dirty over-achiever lol.  While there is some relief in having terms to place on the manifestations -racing thoughts, the panic, the inability to concentrate, the need to escape, the triggering of fight/flight responses, the anger, the highs, lows, in-betweens and bone-crushing exhaustion – there is also a good amount of apprehension.  That age-old question of what now and how will this affect my ability to achieve the big things I want to do with my life rises up from the deep.  Panic begets panic and looking inward for too long causes implosion on my part.

Soooooooo. . .I choose to look outward; to help where I can, to know that I am worth doing the me-work that will establish better balance and well-being.  I know that the gift of mental illness is that if I am self-aware, it teaches me to actively practice self-care.  I have lots of thoughts and a few fears tonight since each diagnoses manifests worry or angst in me in a different fashion.

PTSD:  manifests itself in alarm, easy startling, a fight response when others enter my personal space uninvited

Anxiety disorder: manifests itself when least expected and is lower if I know that I only have to get through ____ amount of time in a given situation and then I either won’t have to face it again at all or won’t have to face it anytime soon.  Ramps up if there is a stressor that I have to endure regularly.  Still, I believe that exposure therapy is sometimes helpful.

ADD:  Manifests itself by scattering my thoughts, affecting my short term memory and making long periods of intense concentration impossible because I just want to escape.  Necessary tasks are more difficult due to the inability to concentrate.

BIPOLAR DISORDER:  Manifests itself with high and low energy.  During the highs, my energy and mood are boundless.  I am able to multitask well during those periods.  During the lows, the muscle pain is very palpable, exhaustion reigns and it takes everything I have to be any modicum of productive.

Welcome to my world.  Yet I’m here.  Learning. Working. Making a difference and hoping that sharing honestly not only helps me to understand myself but for others to understand that facing life with a mental illness does not mean we are weak but rather that we are courageous as hell.

 

Phoenix Uprising

Phoenix Uprising

Sing to me of dreams realized
And love fulfilled
A glass half full and a joyful life
Of rainbows after the rain
Of a reason for the pain

The heart is loyal, the mind betrays
The embers burn, the ribbons fray
A cup of courage
Fresh courage take!
Drink long, drink deep
Phoenix, you are only asleep

Awaken!  Rise and take your place!
The sun is shining, show your face
You are love and love is you
Enough you are, ENOUGH are you

Phoenix song on strands so thin
The harp is playing from deep within
Release your fire; let it burn strong
Phoenix rise!  You’ve been asleep too long
© 2013 Paulissa Kipp (April 4, 2013)Image

 

You Don’t Need A Stinking Pedigree!

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Fraud.  Merriam Webster dictionary defines fraud as a : a person who is not what he or she pretends to be : impostor; also : one who defrauds : cheat or b : one that is not what it seems or is represented to be.  The word has such negative connotations that most of us wouldn’t dream of being one.  The idea of being fake, putting one over on others or being deceptive is repulsive.

Yet when it comes to being our authentic, creative selves that is often what we think or fear we are.  Our souls burn for us to write the stories that can only be penned by our own hand, to create what only our unique way of seeing can create and for us to give voice to what only we are able to sing.  So what holds us back from changing passion to action?

Often, we feel as though we don’t have what it takes.

  • We haven’t spent years and hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars on classes and degrees.
  • We don’t have credentials to be a “REAL” artist so how dare we think we can sparkle and share anything of value?
  • We listen to the voice that tells us that saying “I AM” is merely an avenue for someone to discover what we DON’T know and reveal us as a fraud.
  • We don’t have a large portfolio of work, so we “aren’t there yet” and haven’t earned the right to call ourselves creative, an artist or anything else that our souls call us to be.

Want to know something very powerful?  You don’t need no stinking pedigree to be real!  You are real because you live, dream, breathe and exist.  You don’t need anyone else’s permission to shine.

The biggest truth?  No one is “smarter” than anyone else, we only know different things :~) Remember that every expert was a beginner at one point in time and likely felt exactly what you are feeling.  Brave hearts move and doubt their doubt.  Brave hearts move out of the groove that threatens to keep them paralyzed and comfortable.  Brave hearts learn that by climbing out of the box one leg at a time that the universe holds blessings and they will be richly rewarded.

Being a brave heart is choice, not chance.  It is a conscious act to heed the calling and be who we are.  The most powerful thing we can say is I AM.  Say it, do it and be it.  The universe needs what only you can provide.

 

The Value of Beginning

© 2012 Paulissa Kipp

© 2012 Paulissa Kipp

The Value of Beginning

To begin . . .to start, to commence, to undertake a task.  Beginnings can be exciting – a new job, a new marriage, college, parenthood or any other unfamiliar change can set our hearts aflutter and fill our minds with the promise of unlocked opportunity.  Yet beginnings can also unleash fear, feelings of incompetence, inadequacy and of being a fish out of water.

I have experienced this firsthand recently.  I left a job in a work environment that was draining and went back to school after 6 years of working full time and attending classes part time.  A huge change and a bold beginning.  Yet all kinds of fears have risen to the top:  How will I manage the homework for 3 classes, a home, a business and a marriage and how will I care for myself in the mix?  Add in a class in 2D design that assumes far more art knowledge than I possess and panic attack city, here I come. Beginnings can be scary.

But think of the way a child learns to walk:  he or she first crawls, then takes a tentative step while holding onto surfaces, takes a tumble a few times, gets bruises and bumps, practices, then walks without hanging on and eventually runs.

Learning in general is much the same way.  We often undervalue beginnings and want to jump right to expertise, assuming that mastery is easier.  Mastery may be more comfortable, but it doesn’t teach us as much. Beginnings teach us to humble ourselves, to be receptive, to listen and absorb, and to lean on others for help and support.  The greatest life lessons arrive wrapped in hard work and discomfort.  That, my friends, is when we learn about ourselves.  We learn what we are made of when we are pushed beyond our limitations.

What am I learning by being outside my comfort zone?  I am learning to push through my resistance at being a beginner.  I am learning to tell myself that even though I may be a beginner, I am not untalented.  I am learning the value of having a foundation to build upon.  I am learning to be open to receiving the gifts that learning through baby steps has to offer.  I am learning the value of beginning.

Remember, brave ones, that moving forward can be measured in many ways and that moving in any direction is OK as long as you are moving.  Baby steps. . .

Can you think of a time when beginning (even if you were beginning something you desperately desired) scared you?  How did you handle your fear to find joy in the change?

Your Mission:  write, create a piece of art or photography that shows what beginning looks like to you.

 

Who Ever Heard of a Weak Phoenix?

Phoenix Stencil, unknown artist

Strength means many things – sometimes it means perseverance in the face of challenges, sometimes it roars and at other times it is a quiet voice.  Strength can also be boundaries – healthy boundaries that stem from our love for ourselves.  Strength is often visualized as that of a Phoenix, the fire bird rising from the ashes.

Yet sometimes Phoenix is tired.  I have a story to tell about Phoenix.  I am Phoenix.  Despite significant challenges – physical, emotional and mental at times- I carry on, break myself apart, get rid of the puzzle piece that no longer fits, pour the sand and mortar back in and rebuild strength from vulnerability.  Yet sometimes life can drop a Phoenix to his or her knees.  Today I received a diagnosis that I cannot reverse but may be able to live gracefully with.  Clinical deafness.  Though I can hear sound, I am largely unable to ascertain words.  What does this mean for me going forward?  I don’t know.  How will it affect my ability to learn and be financially productive?  I don’t know.  I admit to letting the Phoenix lie down for a while and rest.  The Phoenix was weak.

Yet if one looks at mythology, how can a Phoenix rise if she never rests?  I needed time to process the change, to accept whatever limitations this diagnosis may place on my life and to figure out how to continue dancing boldly into my life.  You see, we don’t have to have it all.  We must have ourselves – the love and knowledge of ourselves.  We don’t need all 5 senses to be valuable.  I don’t need to have it all to make a difference, to show beauty to the world. What is needed above all is love and support and the knowledge that one thing “missing” does not make us less of a person, give us less value to offer the Universe, does not mean that we are not ENOUGH.  What it means is that Phoenix rests, then rises with the knowledge that all we have in any given moment is ENOUGH.  That rising and simply breathing is enough.  That one challenge does NOT a failure make.  The biggest blessings are often disguised within the roadblocks.  How does the Phoenix rise? Passion.  Choose a goal, no matter how small it may seem and take a baby step toward it, then another.  Crawl, toddle, run and fly up from the ashes.

Peace,

You are so very loved.

© 2012 by Paulissa Kipp