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I Hope Katy Perry's "By the Grace of God" Reminds You How Much God Loves You This Valentine's Day!

On this Valentine’s Day, I wanted to console survivors who not only didn’t love themselves but were maybe starting to think about giving up.  Then, I remembered Katy Perry’s performance this year at the Grammy’s, and I thought the lyrics and video said it all.  Written by Katy and Greg Wells, "By the Grace of God" is track #11 on the album Prism. The lyrics are underneath the link to the video below.

Before Katy’s song, President Obama spoke about how artists can encourage domestic violence victims to get help and change their thinking, so they can begin to change their lives.  “Artists have a unique power to change minds and attitudes,” the President said.

Then, Brooke Axtell, a domestic violence survivor, took to the stage and performed a spoken-word piece about the abuse she suffered.  “Authentic love does not devalue another human being,” Brooke said to the audience. “Authentic love does not silence shame or abuse.”

After Axtell shared her story, Perry, 30, took the stage in front of a white screen wearing an all-white dress with what seemed to be her shadow behind her.  Then, as Katy began singing, the audience realized the shadow behind her wasn’t a shadow but dancers performing behind the white screen.  It was amazing!

I hope you’re reminded that, like Katy, God’s there for you, too, and loves you more than you can possibly imagine.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Video

 

Lyrics

 

Was 27 surviving my return to Saturn A long vacation didn't sound so bad Was full of secrets locked up tight like iron melting Running on empty, so out of gas

Thought I wasn't enough and I wasn't so tough Laying on the bathroom floor We were living on a fault line And I felt the fault was all mine Couldn't take it any more

By the grace of God (there was no other way) I picked myself back up (I knew I had to stay) I put one foot in front of the other and I Looked in the mirror and decided to stay Wasn't gonna let love take me out That way

I thank my sister for keeping my head above the water When the truth was like swallowing sand Now every morning There is no more mourning oh I Can finally see myself again

I know I am enough Possible to be loved It was not about me Now I have to rise above Let the universe call the bluff Yeah the truth will set you free

By the grace of God (there was no other way) I picked myself back up (I knew I had to stay) I put one foot in front of the other and I Looked in the mirror and decided to stay Wasn't gonna let love take me out

That way no There ain't no Not in the name of love In the name of love (in the name of love) That way There ain't no I'm not giving up

By the grace of God I picked myself back up I put one foot in front of the other and I Looked in the mirror (looked in the mirror) Looked in the mirror (looked in the mirror)

By the grace of God (there was no other way) I picked myself back up (I knew I had to stay) I put one foot in front of the other and I Looked in the mirror and decided to stay Wasn't gonna let love take me out That way

 

Published by

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

Awareness About Your Numbness is Huge!


Wisely, the YWCA always had a focus or theme for our sexual violence group therapy sessions which I think lasted about 8 weeks.  I remember one where we focused on listening to our body.  We explored painful or uncomfortable sensations and learned these feelings were a manifestation of the sexual assaults we suffered.

Mine was a huge, black, jagged rock in my chest which felt like it was shredding my heart.  Yes, talking about it was painful, but continuing to live with it was worse.  That’s why I kept going to my group therapy sessions and one-on-one therapy.  Over time, awareness about this sensation and consistent, one-on-one therapy helped me eventually obliterate it.

During the “listening to our body” group therapy sessions, I also remember another woman there who said she was only experiencing numbness.  Slumping in her chair, she said she just couldn’t feel anything.  One of the counselors said, “That’s great!  You’re awareness about the numbness is huge!!!  The woman’s face lit up.  She smiled the warmest smile I’d ever seen on her, and she sat straight up.

At the time, I didn’t understand the counselor was right.  I thought she was just trying to make her feel included since she was praising everyone else for their insights.  Later, I realized that acknowledging her numbness was huge since awareness is the first step to healing.  Unfortunately, like most sexual violence survivors, we all suffered from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which mirrors the PTSD war veterans experience.

The National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) categorizes numbness as an avoidance symptom for obvious reasons.  Other categories include re-experiencing  and hyperarousal symptoms.  Read more about PTSD symptoms on the NIMH’s website.

Finding Your Wonder of the World

Wonders of the world
They say are seven
All breath-taking,
A slice of heaven,
Yet, they always forget the most
Beautiful
Mystical
Amazing
Wonder of them all.
Miraculous.
Deeper than the ocean,
Infinite, yet mortal, and
Reading this now.
That wonder is you.


Feeling lost?  You can be found.
Don’t keep going round and round,
Afraid of losing and finding you
You are amazing.  Breath-taking
The eighth wonder of the world
You are the slice of heaven that you crave
Stop living with one foot in the grave


I pray you find professional counseling in your community.  Meanwhile, I hope Mariah Carey’s song “Hero” inspires you to follow your healing path.

 

I Hope You Dance!

While most people I knew were exploring the world in their twenties, I was hiding from it.  Living in survival mode in my twenties and thirties didn’t help me develop long-lasting friendships.  Among other things, I realized the other day that I feel as if I missed out on making lifelong friends because of it.  Now, I feel the urge to explore the world, so what do I do now?  I’m not sure, but I’m not dead yet, so there’s still time.  Meanwhile, I'll be dancing.  Watch this video of Lee Ann Womack singing I Hope You Dance, and you'll know exactly what I mean.

Feeling Sad or Depressed? Try Writing about What Makes You Happy


Feeling sad or depressed?  Try writing about what makes you happy.  For me, it’s seeing bunnies in my neighborhood on my way home since I usually don’t see them in the morning.  I like stopping and talking to them for a few minutes while giving them their personal space.  Although I’m sure they probably think I’m kind of weird, they also seem to like the company.  Then, there’s exploring the forest preserves with a friend when we came across a doe with her baby deer.  We couldn’t stop telling the beautiful doe they were so adorable.  Like the bunnies, she stuck around for a while before leaving.  Wow!  What an adventure for a city girl like me.  That was cool!

Get the idea?  Of course, if it’s something that you can do right now, do it instead of writing about it.  If not, try to think about what’s the next best thing that would make you happy that you can do or write about.  Don’t wait for someone else to make you happy.  As part of your self-care, make it a habit of asking yourself what makes you happy or what would make you happy.  Then, write about it or do it.

Don’t Ever Give Up!


There will be days when you feel like you can’t take it anymore.  Days when you can’t think, focus, and can’t even begin to pray because all your energy and strength is almost gone.  When that happens, close your eyes, open your heart and ache for God.  Words aren't needed.

Promise me whenever you feel like this, you will always remember, you are loved.  You are precious.  You are remarkable, and you’re still here for a reason.  

Promise me you will fight the lies the criminal(s) who assaulted you repeated and the victim-blaming crap you read and hear about in the media and society.  They're all lies from people who don't want to believe that someone in their community can commit such evil acts.  

God loved you into life.  When he created you, he sculpted a masterpiece.  You’re a beautiful work or art.  Some people will appreciate you and others won’t.  Some will criticize you and others will praise you.

It’s not always going to be like this.  I pray you get the counseling and support of loved ones that you need.  Don’t ever give up!  I will NEVER give up on you and neither will God.  Remember that when you listen to this Jason Mraz song, I Won’t Give Up.

PTSD Trauma Survivors Suffer Mirrors the PTSD War Veterans Suffer, so Please Be Gentle with Yourself

Did you know that as early as 1993, the American Psychological Association published a report referencing 45 clinical studies that found post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often occurred in child sexual violence victims?  When survivors of childhood sexual violence and other trauma survivors experience PTSD, the disorder mirrors the PTSD war veterans suffer, so please be forgiving and gentle with yourself or your loved one.

It’s unfair you’re fighting a war with yourself because you’ve been brainwashed into believing the sexual assault you suffered was your fault.  That’s a lie perpetrated by the criminal who assaulted you or your loved one.  To make matters worse, it’s outrageous you’re also in combat with a society and worldwide media that refuses to believe that someone in their community can commit such violent and evil acts, so they usually choose to blame victims.  Remember, not only is God there for you, but millions if not billions of survivors are sending you their love by praying for you every day: for your peace, joy, and healing.  I pray you hear and feel our spirits reaching out to yours cheering you on.

Here are the lyrics of the beginning of Katy Perry’s “Part of Me” video that talks about fighting for her soul.  Below is a link to this YouTube video.  I hope you find it inspiring.
Days like this I want to drive away
Pack my bags and watch your shadow fade away
‘Cause you chew me up and spit me out
Like I was poison in your mouth
You took my light, you drained me down
That was then and this is now
Now look at me

[Chorus:]
This is the part of me
That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no
This is the part of me
That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no
Throw sticks and stones, throw your bombs and bones
You’re not gonna break my soul
This is the part of me
That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no

You deserve to live a happy and peaceful life!  Maybe you don't feel like it right now, but you are in control of your life.  You and God, Nature, or whatever you call your higher power, together you can do anything.  Keep praying/meditating, fighting, and we'll keep praying/meditation for you and continue sending you our love.  It won't always be like this.  You will feel better one day!  You might lose some battles, but you're going to win this war!!!
I’m not a licensed doctor or therapistI’m one of your billion cheerleaders.  We're all someone just like you or your loved one:  conquering evil one day at a time.  If you or a loved one is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or another anxiety disorder and is not in therapy, please seek professional help in your community immediately.  Here’s a link to Resources on my website page that can assist you in your search:  https://apprenticebutterflies.com/resources/

Remember, you are loved.  You are precious.  You are remarkable, and you’re still here for a reason.  Belong to the truth.

How Were You Touched by God, or How Would You like to be Touched by God?


Like I’ve written before, we habitually ask ourselves negative questions that keep us in a negative mindset.  Try writing about when and how you were touched by God.  If you don’t believe that you have been touched by God, then write about how you would like to be touched by God.

I suggest you consider creating a book titled, How I was Touched by God or How I Would like to be Touched by God, and keep adding to it.  When you’re feeling sad or depressed, your book can be a source of inspiration for you.

It’s Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been!

Why do we keep asking ourselves questions with a negative premise like "Why can't I ever do anything right?"  When we do this we perpetuate a negative image of ourselves.  No wonder so many of us struggle to develop or maintain good self-esteem.

Write down all of your negative self-talk, and turn them into positive questions or statements like "How can I begin or continue my healing journey?"  This will help you begin improving your self-image and self-esteem.  Remember what author George Eliot, aka Mary Ann Evans said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

Keep asking yourself positive questions that assume a positive outlook like "Who and what do I want to be, and what can I do to hold onto my vision?"

There’s Always Hope

As long as you’re alive, there’s always hope. 

As long as you accept God’s love, there’s always hope.

As long as you believe God loves you, there’s always hope.

If you can imagine what you’re hoping for, there’s always hope.

Wherever you are reading this, there’s always hope.

Unconditional Love

God’s unconditional love, priceless faith, and infinite graces saved my life years ago and as recent as a few weeks ago.  Suffering from the worst depression I ever experienced, I struggled to keep my mind occupied, so I wouldn’t disappear into the darkness.  God shattered and disintegrated the bleak abyss that had been crushing my mind, senses, and spirit.

Before my major breakthrough that followed, mentioned in an earlier post (God’s Love is Always There for You), I listened to positive, upbeat songs to keep my spirit alive.  My favorite song being Katy Perry’s Unconditionally.  I believe she was inspired by God to write the lyrics because every single word is so full of pure love.  When you listen to the YouTube video below, you can feel the passion, compassion, and love.  I hope it brightens your day and lifts your spirits.  Most of all, I hope it reminds you of how much God truly loves you.

Empower Your Spirit in the God Zone

When athletes perform exceptionally, they talk about being in a zone which I call the “God zone.”  According to a February 19, 2010 article by the American Psychological Association, Dr. Shane Murphy says, “What’s fascinating is that we find that athletes often don’t need to be perfect to succeed.  Being in the “zone” isn’t about perfection as much as it is about staying in the moment, not worrying about failure, and not worrying about what the result might be.  I find every athlete to be unique in their approach to that “zone,” but they use some combination of psychological skills such as visualization, goal-setting, concentration, relaxation or mindfulness, psyching up, positive self-talk and developing a consistent routine in order to get there. Once they’re ready, they focus and let it happen. Their bodies are prepared to succeed – usually it’s the mind that can get in the way – if you let it.”

You’ve probably been in the situation when you were with someone preoccupied with the past or the future.  If you’re trying to love and support them, but they’re not spiritually with you in the present moment, there’s no way they can begin to accept your love and support.  The same holds true of our relationship with God.

I recommend you pray the words below, and I encourage you to add your own petition for a positive change in your life while you focus on being in the present moment with God.

The spirit of God lives and breathes inside me.
I breathe with the spirit.
I am one with the spirit.
I AM God’s spirit.

At all times and in all places, the spirit of God lives and breathes inside me.
I breathe with the spirit.
I am one with the spirit.
I AM God’s spirit.

The spirit of God empowers me with the strength to
[insert your greatest challenge here].
I breathe with the spirit.
I am one with the spirit.
I AM God’s spirit.

I also suggest you try making it a habit.  During a hectic day, I make it a point to pray these lines wherever I am, even in the bathroom after washing my hands which helps me calm down if I’m stressed and focus on the present moment.

God’s Love is Always There for You


More than 10 years ago, when the darkness had control over me, I remember seeing a bumper sticker that said, “The Meaning of Life is to Live It.”  At the time, I was going to the YWCA for sexual violence counseling, and I remember how it made me feel hopeful.  I thought about that recently when I saw an ad in the subway that read “I got my life back.”
Recently, I went through a difficult, dark period.  I thought I forgave my father, but I really didn’t:  not wholeheartedly.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m definitely no saint.  I only did it, or thought I did, because I thought it would help me heal faster.  Overcome with the darkness again, this time, it was worse.  I was in survival mode like I imagine soldiers at war must be.  I felt like I had to keep myself busy, so it wouldn’t devour me.

Thanks to a new friend who’s also a survivor, he reminded me of the power of God’s love while carefully guiding and counseling me about forgiving my father.  However, I had to finish the process on my own in private between God and me.  The excruciating pain left my heart feeling like you do after exercising when you haven’t done so in a long time.  Sore and weak, my heart felt like it had been beaten up, and I guess it had been for all these years.

Thank you, God, for not giving up on me!  Thank you for putting people and signs (some literally and some figuratively) in my life to help me remember that you are always there for me.  You are truly awesome!

Beginning My Healing Journey Felt Like Climbing Mount Everest

Beginning my healing journey felt monumental like climbing Mount Everest.  At the same time, I knew I just had to start, so I filled my life with as many uplifting resources as possible.  I wrote positive affirmations and read books like The Power of Positive Thinking, I prayed constantly, and put myself in God's hands.  I was no angel.  I got mad at God, yelled, and swore, too, but I always kept talking with Him.  I think this poem gives you a good overview of my experience.

Climbing Mount Everest

I love mountain tops.
You turn around, and
wherever you look, you see infinity.
Instinctively, you close your eyes,
and slowly take in a deep, satisfying breath
as if you’re about to kiss someone for the first time.
You can feel and smell God in the air,
and see Him in every cliff, plant, and animal.
I never remembered how I got there.
I just remember how exhausted I always felt.
Barely standing up on my own,
it seemed to take forever before I realized
we really made it to the top.
The trails were hard enough.
I can’t imagine climbing the side of a mountain,
let alone the tallest mountain top in the world.
That’s what I used to think about being raped.
I couldn’t begin to imagine how to start healing.
How could I think about forgiving my father?
Then, I’d learn hating him was torturing me.
Killing the goodness in my already tormented soul.
So, I forgave him for my sake, not his.
Before I lost my mind and soul, I let the hate go.
Then, there were the flashbacks.
Horrific moments that took me back in time.
His panting face.  His hand pulling down the shades.
Or his hands violating my tiny body.
All happening quicker than the blink of an eye.
They’d come at work.  At school.  At home.  Everywhere.
Worst of all.  It felt like I was being raped all over again.
Each flashback was another violation.  Another hideous act.
Another ledge to climb over,
on my already monumental journey.
Group therapy saved me.
Talking myself through the flashbacks worked.
Years would pass, and I thought I was okay, but I was wrong.
Suddenly, one day, I sat paralyzed.
I felt like my heart had turned into coal.
A crusty, black blob with sharp, pointy edges,
slowly tearing me apart from the inside out.
I felt helpless.  I couldn’t handle my grown-up world.
I thought I was going crazy
because just ordering lunch overwhelmed me.
Somehow, that dark, hideous blob turned me into that terrified,
eight-year-old, long-haired, pigtailed girl again.
For years, I denied needing therapy and help.
Then, I struggled, playing tug-o-war with myself
and going nowhere.
Finally, I realized it was time to grow up.
Time to listen to what my little girl had to say.
Time to hear her side of the story, and let her have her way.
Time to be there for her the way no one was ever there for her.
To rescue her one last time
from the evil that destroyed her innocence.
From the darkness that almost stole her soul.
Time to carry her up to the mountain top,
so she could finally be free.

Finding Me


Along with a lot of therapy, living the words of this poem helped me in my healing process.  I just wrote it tonight for you, and I hope it helps you find your healing path. 
Finding Me

Passion.  Compassion.  You deserve it and more!
Yet, spirit and human duality creates
Unlimited dilemmas in time and space
Follow me.  Learn from me.  Be authentic.  Be true.
What do I mean?  Essentially, just be you.
Not sure who you are or who you might be?
Write about the life you wish you could live
Then, keep writing until you find yourself in your words.
And one day, you'll find the real you when your spirit is heard.

My Mystical, Musical Inspiration

On Sunday, 6/15/14, after going to a friend’s house in Lincoln Park during the Old Town Art Fair, I stopped off at a Village Thrift store on my way home because my backpack zipper broke, but I didn't find any backpacks there I liked.  After I turned the corner of the intersection and headed south, so I could catch a bus back home, I heard a cool, new song playing that I really like.  It has an old R&B rhythm which reminded me of the original Motown sound.  
I'm attaching the YouTube link to the song, too.  Why?  Because a young, 20-something African American man who lives above a store was dancing like he was in heaven outside on the landing of his porch between the 2nd and 3rd floor.  I couldn't stop watching him from across the street.  Then I found myself waving and thrusting my thumbs up to him three times.  He saw me, and pumped his arm up as if to say he's jamming and dancing alone, but he's a lot happier than Pharrell Williams.  I could see that he was totally absorbed in the present moment and relishing every single beat.  It was amazing!
He made me remember that I used to be like that, and I lost it along with most of my spontaneity and sense of humor.  I still feel lost in that sense, but I'm re-connecting with my true self that used to laugh and smile all day long just like my mom.  I'll get there, and this stranger will never know how much he inspired me to keep looking.  Here's the You-tube video of the lyrics:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnklzGJdsRQ.  Enjoy!

Wondering How to Pray?


If you’re uncomfortable about praying, or if you’re unsure how to start.  You might want to consider this mnemonic suggestion.

Present Moment
Relax
Attentive
Yearn


1.   Present Moment:  Remain in the present moment.  We’ve all had a conversation with someone so absorbed in the past or the future that we felt like we were all alone.  When you catch yourself time traveling, imagine you’re having coffee or lunch with God at Starbuck’s.   Unlike the real world, you can control all the distractions which are your thoughts in this case.  When you find yourself wandering off, gently focus back on the present moment.
  

2.   Relax:  The whole idea is to begin or continue a relationship with God.  Remember, like your closest friends, God doesn’t want you stressing out about talking to him, so just relax.  Don’t worry.  Chill out.
 
3.   Attentive:  No one likes trying to have a serious conversation with someone when the other person is more interested in what’s going on at the next table.  Keep ignoring someone with whom you’re trying to develop a relationship, and you’ll go nowhere.

 
 
4.   Yearn:  God doesn’t want you to spend time with Him unless you do so freely.  Most people wouldn’t like spending time with someone who acts like they would rather be somewhere else and something tells me neither does God.  

Now it’s time to try it out.  There’s no time like the present moment.

The Power of Prayerful Affirmations

We’ve all heard about the wonders of affirmations, so why not turn your spoken words in prayer into affirmations that can help you transform your life.  

When I started making prayerful affirmations, I truly didn’t believe what I was saying.  However, I committed to praying the same words over and over again until I believed them.  It didn’t happen overnight, but it was pretty cool when it finally did happen.  Of course, a lot of therapy preceded my even thinking about doing this.

I prayed “My Lord, and my God, I give you my heart, my mind, my body, and my spirit:  all that I am and all that I can be.  Take away all the darkness.  Take it all away, so I can be with you.  Be one with you and be truly free.”

Try it, but remember, the key is not to give up.  You're definitely worth it!

An Inspirational Story About a Hero That Stopped Rape


Here’s a beautiful and inspirational You-Tube video of a hero of mine.  He’s an ordinary guy who talks about how rape affected his life.  His message says, “I am opening up to you all on YouTube, sharing an experience with you all that has changed my life.”
Please watch it.  It will give you hope that there are good men in this world that have the courage to acknowledge that rape is rape, and prevent rape from destroying someone’s life.  

Tears of Sorrow, Tears of Joy


My mother’s been gone for almost 20 years, and I miss her every day especially this time of year.  With my birthday and hers last month followed by Mother’s Day, my heart desperately aches for her hugs, sweet smiles, and infectious laughter.  I’ve been busy working on launching my book, and I just realized that I forgot to make time just to sit, reflect, and let the tears flow where they may.

I remember when I repressed everything about my father raping me as a child, and how I didn’t want to feel anything because I thought I would never stop crying and go insane.  On the outside I was laughing and joyful, but on the inside horrible flashbacks tortured me non-stop.  

Like I mentioned in my blog about the importance of having a “safe place,” I thought my mother was my safe place since my father wouldn’t touch me when she was around.  Now I realize that God has always been my safe place, and my mother was the instrument through which I experienced His love.  Thank you, Lord, for turning my tears of sorrow into tears of joy.  And, thanks mom, for being totally open to the spirit of God and giving me the priceless gift of faith that saved my life.  Happy Mother’s Day, mom, and Happy Mother's Day to all mothers everywhere!  Without you the world would have imploded by now.