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

Image

 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.

 

Image

~ 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

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Bruised, Not Broken A Survival Story TRIGGER ALERT

Image

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.

 

Don’t Take That Yoke!

Image

Text and Image © 2013 Paulissa Kipp

Don’t Take That Yoke!

A heart full of love compensates for a heart and mind that is filled with hate. The hope for a peaceful future exists in the way in which we love others. Evil will always exist, as will hate. Hate arises from envy – envy of liberty, freedom, opportunity to move with a minimum of restriction and envy of a way of life. Hate also rises up from places of deep pain and misplaced blame, for is it easier to blame others and circumstances than it is to take responsibility for changing the paradigm. Yet that is the challenge. Hate is only combated through love.

There are some – including our “intelligence” agencies and President –  who feel that it is important to understand why this act of violence was perpetrated.  I do not agree.  Allow me to explain.  I believe that our burden and responsibility at all times is to love.  The act of transferring my energies to wondering why others would wish harm upon me personally, my community or my country shifts my focus from the good I can do by fostering humanity.  I don’t need to know why someone would wish harm. That is not important.

Further, there are those who wish to engage in the one-upmanship of pain and death.  Those persons or entities use the red herring of “What about the ____X______ number of people who died in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan or any other country in which there is unrest and in which America either volunteers or is begged to be the world’s police force.  Please do not misunderstand me:  I believe that all life is precious, that all humanity needs to be affirmed.  Therefore, I couldn’t care less about this one-upmanship of pain.  To me, it is all tragic but I choose to focus my energies upon the corner of the world in which I am most equipped to make a difference.  That is my own back yard.   I do not need to wear a yoke of guilt and responsibility for the hatred of others.  I do not need to be personally responsible for why someone chooses to carry out harm against others.  Neither do you. There are more important things.  Love is more important.

 

International Women’s Day 2013

Today is International Women’s Day.  What do you, as a woman, need in this world?  What will you, as a woman, give the world?  Will you offer acceptance of another woman rather than petty jealousy?  Will you make a difference to a woman who is abused, who is overwhelmed, who has a dream but needs a little help in realizing it?  Most of all, will you love yourself today?  YOU ARE ENOUGH  

In case you need a clear sign that you are enough, here it is:  A love letter from me to you.Image

 

The Witch Hunting of the Mentally Ill

Like many others, I have been processing the events of Sandy Hook on many different levels.  There are many thoughts and emotions involved when something so incomprehensible occurs.

I process events such as these on many levels:

1.  As a law student, I understand the legal requirements of gun ownership/control and the rights of the mentally ill.  On a legislative level, I would like to see the following:  If a person has a diagnosed mental illness, understands said mental illness and has RX medication and chooses not to take said medication and then commits a crime which causes bodily harm to another, I believe at that point the not guilty by reason of insanity defense should come off the table.  If one is coherent to choose not to take meds that will stabilize his/her illness or seek a dr. for a better tolerated medication, he/she is coherent enough to have chosen to commit the act and is therefore responsible.

2.  As the aunt of a 1, 2, 4 and 6 yr old, I feel the loss of potential and dreams that the parents and loved ones of these children held so dear.

3.  As a person unable to bear children, I am sometimes feel relieved that I have no children of my own to be fearful for.

4.  As one who struggles with mental illness and provides services to those with mental illness, I feel the stigma and stereotypes of society when public outcry screams “psycho, crazy, moron, wingnut, sicko” etc before all of the facts are even available.  Even after those facts are revealed, the terms don’t need to be used.  If it were any other illness, we wouldn’t use those terms.  That is akin to calling someone overweight “fatty, bertha butt, a sloth etc”.  It doesn’t help meaningful conversation.  Verbage matters.

Terminology such as that listed above only serves to create another Salem witch hunt in which those struggling and under a microscope while society waits for us to fall on our faces or to magically be cured occurs.  There is a prevailing sense of entitlement that society has to use any term that helps them process things within their comfort zone but using slurs will not help us to have the conversations that we need to have about mental health access (and the lack thereof), the cost of mental health care, screening for mental health issues, etc.  We only serve to push the mentally ill further into themselves or to create even more anxiety and resentment.  It is not useful.

I have seen and engaged in a number of conversations over the past few days in which the OPs have used such terms.  These are people that I love and respect ( a little less so in recent days but that will pass).  Free speech being what it is, I have no desire to shut down important conversations but merely discuss the issues without the name-calling.

At any given moment, none of us know all of the facts and to judge a DEAD person based upon an incomplete set of facts (investigators just now are trying to subpoena medical records and in recent days, it has come to light that the mother was going for conservatorship so that she could have the shooter committed so he could get the treatment he needed).  This mother did what she felt was best, including homeschooling her son and being solely responsible for him.  Perhaps she didn’t get him treatment as soon as the rest of us would have liked, but we don’t know what all she DID do to try to help him.  Society playing armchair quarterback, judge, jury and psychologist will not help.  Only by engaging in loving conversations and including those with mental illness in the conversations about mental health reform will things change.  Name-calling and perpetuating stigma and stereotypes won’t get us there.

Yes, I am hurt by the conversations.  Yes, I process them differently than one without my background but I speak for millions of your fellow brothers and sisters.  If you have read this far, thank you for reading.    Yes, I am angry so I needed to say these things.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming. . .

 

Under The Microscope – Tragedy and Mental Illness

So much sorrow and many, many thoughts and emotions as I process the latest mass shooting.  While it is early in the reporting, the implications of mental illness are very much on my mind.

My students and I discussed this in class today because these things are huge triggers for them.  Being mentally ill on the various levels that they are – bipolar, multiple personalities, Alzheimers, anger issues, etc – they are aware, perhaps more than many others of the stigma of mental illness.  They are aware that each time an awful act is committed by someone who is mentally ill and off meds or triggered, etc that many in our community and society in general wonder what it will take to make us snap.  It is a very uncomfortable feeling to be scrutinized in such a fashion.  The mentally ill face significant challenges on a daily basis to function well, to be aware of triggers, to lower anxiety and to do everything he or she can to foster well-being.  Still, overwhelm can creep in and people lash out, break down and yes, commit violence.

Do not misunderstand me:  I am not making excuses for the actions that caused so much collateral damage.  Every aspect of the shooter’s life and influences will be examined in the media, by law enforcement and the armchair quarterbacks will expound upon things of which they have no personal exposure.  Beware of painting everyone who struggles with depression with a broad brush.  We are all just doing our best to live a full and meaningful life.

Signed,

Mentally ill but hopeful,   My students and I

© 2012 Paulissa Kipp “The Beckoning Path”