May 19, 2012
Maizy is a quiet little cow. She talks when she wants to, but that’s not very often.
Maizy doesn’t like noise, and she doesn’t like crowds, and she doesn’t like bunches of people everywhere near and around.
Maizy isn’t that sure about people – she only likes one or two people, here and there. And even then, she’s not completely sure. People are not her favorite.
Mostly, Maizy likes her own space.
She likes to feel safe, and she likes to have plenty of distance away from the threat of anyone coming near. For Maizy, space equals safety. She knows she will be ok if no one is nearby.
Maizy likes anything that reminds her of unruffled freedom. She likes to watch birds fly in the air. She likes to watch horses run across fields. She likes to see puppies play and ducks swim in ponds and butterflies fluttering around.
Maizy also likes to watch kites flying in the sky. Kites up in the sky are very peaceful. They blow back and forth, floating and looking, and enjoying their own space up and away from everybody else. Kites get to see all kinds of things, and they get to lift up and away from the noise of the world. And kites come in all colors, and all shapes, and sizes, and there is no such thing as a bad kite or a wrong kite. Kites are just fun. Maizy loves kites!
But today, Maizy has a dilemma. Oh dear, oh dear.
Maizy heard about a kite day. On this kite day, all kinds of kites were going to go to the park and fly high in the air. There were going to be box kites, and round kites, and home-made kites, and tiger kites, and fish kites, and heart kites, and circle kites, and bear kites, and mermaid kites, and turtle kites, and rainbow kites. There were so many different kites coming to kite day that Maizy could hardly decide which ones to watch! Maizy was so excited!
A Fly-in-the-Sky-like-a-Kite Day all day would be perfect!
So what was the problem?
The problem, for Maizy, is that the kites came with oodles and gobs of people. People! Yuck! Maizy is not a fan of people! Maizy wanted to see the kites, but she didn’t want to see the people! If only the kites could fly by themselves over to the kite park…
Oh dear, oh dear. What was Maizy going to do?
Instead of feeling happy, Maizy was feeling very cranky. She was upset. She was angry. She did not want those noisy scary people to mess up her wonderful Fly-in-the-Sky-like-a-Kite Day!
She stomped her foot.
“Go away, people!”
She stomped all four of her feet.
“Go away, go away, go away, go away! Don’t mess up my wonderful Fly-in-the-Sky-like-a-Kite Day!”
But the people did not go away.
In fact, more and more people came. More and more of them!
Maizy had to stop and think. She couldn’t make all the people go away. As much she may have wanted to, she just wouldn’t be able to do it. There were just too many of them, of all shapes and sizes. There were as many people as there were kites. Maybe more! Those noisy people were just everywhere!
Would they bother her?
Would they hurt her?
Would they leave her alone?
Would they be kind to her?
Maizy had to make a decision. She really wanted to go see those beautiful kites, but she would have to be super duper brave to be near all those people. Hmmmm….
What was a Maizy to do…
Ok. Well. Hmmmm….
She thought and she thought and she thought.
She really didn’t want to miss it. She had already missed out on too many fun things because she was afraid to be around people.
Maizy finally decided she could be brave.
Maizy knew that while some people had been very mean to her in the past, she knew that some people could be nice.
She knew that she couldn’t always believe the worst about everyone.
Maizy knew that a whole bunch of people would probably walk right past her, and not really interact with her at all. Maizy liked that. She liked to be ignored by strangers. She was plenty happy for people to stay involved in their own lives and to leave her alone. Maybe just maybe she could quietly watch the kites from her own little spot, and not mingle with anyone else. She wouldn’t have to look at anyone. She wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. She could just look at the kites.
Maizy knew she didn’t have to miss out on fun stuff just because she didn’t like to be around people.
If she stayed mostly quiet to herself, and if she was polite to anyone she decided to speak to, Maizy figured that there was a very good chance that she could navigate her kite party without any big problems happening.
Maybe, just maybe, she could go see the kites and not be bothered or hurt by anyone at all.
And maybe just maybe, Maizy could have fun at her wonderful Fly-in-the-Sky-like-a-Kite Day!
Copyright © 2008-2012 Kathy Broady and Discussing Dissociation
July 4, 2010
For us here in the US, it’s the July 4th holiday weekend. Barbecues, picnics, swimming parties, and fireworks are happening all over the country. Red, white, and blue stars and stripes are visible in every direction. It’s a fun holiday – most people are in festive moods.
The point of the Independence Day holiday is to celebrate freedom. It’s about being free, living in a land that is free, feeling free and all kinds of good stuff like that. Freedoms do exist in all kinds of ways – there’s no doubt about that. Life can be good. Most of us here in America have the freedom to live our lives in ways that we choose for ourselves.
But is everyone free?
People get trapped and stuck in a variety of ways. When this happens, their life feels anything but free. Sometimes the traps are made by the people themselves. Sometimes traps are made by societal views, racial hatred, poverty, language barriers, etc. Sometimes the traps are made by mental illness. Sometimes traps are set by other people, especially in situations involving chronic trauma and abuse. Sometimes traps are made with mind control.
This weekend, while I am enjoying the chance to make decisions for myself, I am thinking about people who are not feeling as free as I am.
1. Trapped within their Compulsive Hoarding
Have you seen any of the recent flurry of television shows about compulsive hoarding? Titles such as “Hoarding: Buried Alive” (shown on the TLC channel) describe exactly how trapped people become when they suffer from compulsive hoarding. Their own home becomes their jail, and far too many compulsive hoarders are stuck in their lifestyle, with no clue how to free themselves from such heaviness.
Hoarders do not feel free. They do not have a sense of freedom in their own homes. They are often laden down with many extreme obsessions, compulsions, anxieties that may not even be rational, but still claim total ownership to their mind and lives.
The more someone hoards, the less space they have to move. Eventually, even the freedom to walk around their own home becomes nonexistent. They become complete prisoners to the items they are hoarding.
2. Trapped with Fears and Phobias
Fears and phobias can imprison a person in a very extreme way. Fears of talking to people, fears of leaving the house, fears of trying new foods, fears of eating in public, fears of riding in cars, fears of the unknown, etc. can all keep a person stuck into a very limited life-space. When people are too frightened to venture out of their status quo, they are stuck and trapped in whatever place they are in. The more fears they have, the more traps they live in. Their living space can get smaller, and smaller, and smaller.
3. Trapped by Obesity and Eating Disorders
People that are obese are trapped within their own bodies. The lack of freedom to move, or walk, or bend, or stretch can feel very entrapping. Eating disorders, including anorexia and bulemia, can also create a prison with the body. When the body becomes the prison, every minute of the day feels trapped. There is no freedom since the prison goes everywhere.
4. Trapped with Ongoing Abuse and Trauma
Unfortunately, there are far too many survivors of trauma and abuse that are still current victims of trauma and abuse. This includes anything from child abuse,
domestic violence, incest, and date rape, to human trafficking, prostitution, sex slavery, cult groups, etc. When people are controlled by other people through violence and pain, they are often too beaten down to see a way out. They are not allowed to see or believe that they can escape from their abuse, and they are typically not given or allowed the resources to leave. Any efforts to leave require an incredible depth of personal strength since the external controls and risks of violence are excessive.
5. Trapped with Mind Control
Mind control is the invisible jail. Dissociative survivors of chronic, severe abuse have elements of mind control that effect every essence of their lives. Survivors of organized or ritual abuse will absolutely have parts within their internal dissociative systems that were purposefully made and created in order to contain elements of mind control and programming. DID survivors with mind control issues will have parts in their systems that have been expertly trained to do tasks that are opposite from what the host personality / day parts are willing to do. Amnesia and dissociative walls (blocking off the sharing of information) can mean that a dissociative survivor can have missing time and minimal (if any) awareness that certain events happened. DID survivors may have no awareness of what is going on in their own lives.
Mind control can dictate what dissociative survivors say, where they go, who they talk with, who they interact with, what they do, what they tolerate, what they feel, what they think, etc. Having internal system parts that are controlled by mind control means that there are certain elements of the life (and certain times of the day or night) that your life is being completely controlled and manipulated by someone else. Other parts of your system will take over the body and they do exactly what they have been told to do by the abusers who are using the mind control tactics. This can be very scary, and the people whose lives are “taken over” by mind control certainly do not feel free.
Creating Freedom within Your Own Life
When you are trapped by any of the above-mentioned areas of life, it will take a lot of hard work to get out of those traps. It is possible. Yes, in every single situation mentioned above it is absolutely possible for the enslaved people to get out of all the traps. But freedom for any of these people does not come easy. It takes a lot of consistent work, typically for years of time.
Do you want real freedom in your life?
Do you want the ability to walk, move, think, decide, and believe for yourself?
Do you want the freedom to be your real, authentic self and have a life completely under your own control?
Freedom is to be your true self is an absolutely wonderful thing.
And yes, that’s an option for you too.
Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
You might have to fight for it, but yes, absolutely, you can have freedom too.
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation
April 18, 2009
The NICSA Survey (Negative Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse) on AbuseConsultants.com asks if trauma survivors have felt an impact on their feelings of fear and ability to trust.
It is abundantly clear from the results of the survey that dissociative survivors of severe, chronic traumas typically have lives filled with fear.
For victims of childhood sexual abuse, fear becomes their constant companion, a way of life, a normal state of mind. Fear becomes ingrained in behaviors and in emotions, and it is wired deeply within brain activity. It becomes very difficult for the traumatized person to re-connect with a feeling of safety.
Fear locks the PTSD in place. Or maybe, the PTSD locks the fear in place. Either way, the past constantly affects the present, and overcoming the years of fear is a major hurdle in the life of a trauma survivor. It takes experiencing safe situations over and over and over to help balance out the years of trauma-based fear. One “corrective emotional experience” will likely not be sufficient for healing. Bunches and bunches of corrective emotional experiences are necessary.
In my years of working with trauma survivors with Dissociative Identity Disorder, I have found some of the following fears to be common:
- Constant fear and no sense of safety or security anywhere or any time
- Constant fear about something, anything, always
- No peace, no ability to relax, constant hypervigilance
- Inappropriate or extreme over-reactive responses to problems due to fear and ingrained beliefs that something bad will happen
- Always waiting and anticipating the next bad thing that will happen
- Very fatalistic thinking, preparing for doomsday — because bad stuff did happen so frequently, repeatedly, it was the one constant that could be expected — so it’s best to always be prepared for and expecting the worst
- Fear of public places, or interacting out in the world. Maybe this is a fear of leaving home, or simply a fear of interacting with so many new people.
- Fears involving grocery stores — makes shopping for food extremely difficult or simply more expensive at the smaller corner stores.
- Shopping malls, which are typically too stimulating and overwhelming, with far too many lights, sounds, flashing items, too much movement, crowding, and chaos.
- Churches — fears of judgment or demonization, or frankly, fears of being abused in the church or by a church member or church official. All too many DID survivors experienced variations of spiritual abuse.
- Schools — involving a fear of failure, a fear of not being able to concentrate or pass, an inability to be consistent in class, and lost time / missing time making it difficult to retain classroom learning.
- Crippling, debilitating fear can make a person housebound for extended periods of time — this clearly creates enormous difficulties in living daily life.
A close companion to overwhelming fear becomes the difficulties with trust. When someone is so fearful, it is very difficult to trust. Years of negative, traumatic, painful, rejecting experiences have also taught the trauma survivor that trust is not necessarily a smart thing to do.
Once again, having a huge number of appropriate, safe corrective experiences will eventually make a significant difference. But this does not happen quickly.
In my years of clinical work, dissociative trauma survivors and victims of childhood sexual abuse experience a great deal of mistrust in some of the following areas:
- Not believing that anybody or anything can be trusted
- Severely damaged, or no sense of trust in God
- Severely damaged, or no sense of trust in people
- Great difficulty with expressing tender, vulnerable emotions with other people or themselves
- A belief that people can be dispensable possessions or dehumanized objects
- A deeply ingrained mentality that people are to be used or manipulated or controlled, including themselves
- Extreme difficulty in forming and keeping interpersonal relationships due this intolerable level of mistrust
- Often a belief that animals and nature are the only living things that can be trusted for comfort and companionship
- Repeated confused conversations and tangled interactions with other people because of a tendency for survivors to incorrectly jump to negative assumptions and perceptions based on past troubles instead of looking closely at the current day reality.
- An inability to develop or maintain a sense of self-trust because the defined sense of self was lost long ago during the abuse.
- Dissociative Disorders create amnesia and loss of time, and severe abuse creates a wide variety of alters with any number of conflicting beliefs and perspectives, making the ability to trust time, memory, and consistency within oneself not easily obtainable.
The struggles with fear and mistrust can affect a trauma survivor’s entire life. The negative, painful, destructive lessons taught by sadistic perpetrators are hard to overcome and require a tremendous amount of therapy, healing work, determination, willingness, and persistence.
How have feelings of fear and mistrust been difficult for you?
What do you do when your fear overwhelms you?
What do you do to build trusting relationships with other people?
What have you done that was successful at helping to eliminate or remove these negative effects of childhood sexual abuse from your life?
Kathy Broady LCSW