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hope

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!

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.

Lights in the Darkness


A friend just sent me a photo of his latest collage where I observed the way he photographed the interior night lights at a public building in downtown Chicago.  They have a star-like quality about them which I think is really cool.  I’ve always loved the “light in the darkness” metaphor because as a rape survivor I have been overwhelmed by the darkness many times, and I know how important that light has been to me.
What’s the light?  Hope, love, compassion and anything else I need at that moment in time.  Sometimes it’s hard to articulate, but the heart and soul know better than our heads do because they seek the real world that lies in our true essence:  our infinite, spirit.
How have I held onto the light?  Sometimes it meant and still means going out for a walk to distract myself or just hanging out with trusted family or friends.  The two most important things for me in my healing journey have been prayer and therapy.  Prayer is a powerful force that should never be underestimated.  Holding onto my faith in God and constantly asking God for strength has saved me many times from slipping into the darkness for good.  Combined with prayer, therapy saved my life.  Without therapy, I would still have a foot in the darkness and would never have been able to follow my healing path.
What’s your light and how do you hold onto it?  If you're not sure or don't know, I suggest following the advice found in Matthew 7:7 – 7:8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Happy to be Crying


Today, soaking up the warmth of the sun and slowly walking through gentle breezes with eyes closed, I smiled as I remembered an Easter poem I wrote to my nephew and his wife.  It was a short and sweet one which made my smile grow wider because it conveyed exactly what I wanted it to say 

I miss watching you both and seeing the love,
Sparkling like shooting stars far above
Immersed in each word, action, and breath,
What a beautiful life in your love and there’s more to come yet!

A melancholy heart soon replaced my bright smile as I remembered Michael from high school.  We danced, talked and laughed together non-stop, and I wondered if it wasn’t for my father raping me, that maybe, just maybe, I would have gone out with him.  Then, maybe, just maybe, I might have fallen in love with him and realized that I never had anything in common with the boy I liked in high school which never worked out and maybe that’s why I liked him.  Then maybe, just maybe, I’d be getting poems like the one I just wrote.  

Another smile emerged as I remembered my best friend from high school, Orlando, a sweet, soft-spoken boy.   He became the brother I wish mine had been, but my father soon brought that all to an end.  Back in the day when there were only landlines, my father traumatized me when he answered the phone and heard Orlando’s voice ask for me.  He swore up and down at the top of his voice in English and Spanish.  Mortified, I could barely speak to Orlando after that because I was so embarrassed.  He ruined my childhood, and he ruined my high school years beyond what I ever imagined. 
 
I wouldn’t say I had a good cry, but I cried a lot.  My lungs and my entire body was so exhausted, I could barely get up and walk around.  It was the kind of crying that made you feel like someone just beat you up which he did emotionally.

I’m worn out, but I’m glad I cried because that means I’m human.  My emotions aren't numb anymore, and I’m in control now.  I’m still the optimistic, peaceful and happy person I’ve always been, so in the end I win.

What about love?  I’m praying every day for it, and I know like everything else God will provide.  Meanwhile, you’ll find me dancing and singing Happy along with Pharrell Williams.  I hope you’ll join me.

Centering Prayer Helps Me Stay Grounded in the Present Moment


Like I mentioned in an earlier blog about controlling flashbacks, it’s critical for survivors to stay grounded in the present moment.  When I start thinking about the abuse I suffered in the past, I always remind myself that I am safe and in control, so the flashbacks don’t start to control me.  Focusing on taking deep breaths also helps.

Centering Prayer helps me stay grounded in the present moment and develop a deeper relationship with God.  I’ve been practicing it for more than 20 years.  Like any relationship, communication is important which also means learning how to be a better listener.  I am far from perfect about this although I’ve definitely improved over the years. 

You don’t move around like yoga.  You pray either sitting on the floor or in a chair, and you remain sitting wherever you are and focus on your meditation.  Before you start, you need to choose a sacred word.  Your sacred word is the symbol of your intention to allow God’s presence and action in your soul.  It can be love, peace, or your own name for God.  I love the fact that anyone from any faith can practice it!

Once you have your sacred word and you’re seated comfortably, close your eyes and take a few deep breathes to help you relax.  Imagine something like you’re inhaling God’s powerful peace and love.  And, exhaling all the tension and worries in your mind, body and soul.  Visualize God’s powerful, peace and love flowing into your body.  First through your mind and head, down to all your limbs, and then penetrating your soul melting away your anxieties overpowered by God’s awesome peace and love.

When you’re ready, silently introduce your sacred word, be with God, and just listen.  When you become aware of your thoughts, gently return to the sacred word.  Don’t be discouraged.  Be gentle with yourself.  Think of it as if you’re meeting God in a noisy coffee shop like Starbuck’s.  You’re next to a loud table.  There’s nowhere to move, so you’re trying to focus on what he’s telling you.

It’s important not to get upset about all the distractions.  Don’t worry about your thoughts.  You just let them come and go like noisy distractions in Starbuck’s you ignore, and remain focused on your sacred word and your intention and listen.  Then, at the end of your prayer remain in silence with your eyes closed for a couple of minutes.  It’s awkward at first, but you get used to it.

In case you’re interested in finding out more about Centering Prayer, here’s the website:  http://centeringprayer.com/.  What I love about Centering Prayer is that it emphasizes prayer as your personal relationship with God!  

How Centering Prayer Helps Me Stay Grounded in the Present Moment


Like I mentioned in an earlier blog about controlling flashbacks, it’s critical for survivors to stay grounded in the present moment.  When I start thinking about the abuse I suffered in the past, I always remind myself that I am safe and in control, so the flashbacks don’t start to control me.  Focusing on taking deep breaths also helps.

Centering Prayer helps me stay grounded in the present moment and develop a deeper relationship with God.  I’ve been practicing it for more than 20 years.  Like any relationship, communication is important which also means learning how to be a better listener.  I am far from perfect about this although I’ve definitely improved over the years. 

You don’t move around like yoga.  You pray either sitting on the floor or in a chair, and you remain sitting wherever you are and focus on your meditation.  Before you start, you need to choose a sacred word.  Your sacred word is the symbol of your intention to allow God’s presence and action in your soul.  It can be love, peace, or your own name for God.  I love the fact that anyone from any faith can practice it!

Once you have your sacred word and you’re seated comfortably, close your eyes and take a few deep breathes to help you relax.  Imagine something like you’re inhaling God’s powerful peace and love.  And, exhaling all the tension and worries in your mind, body and soul.  Visualize God’s powerful, peace and love flowing into your body.  First through your mind and head, down to all your limbs, and then penetrating your soul melting away your anxieties overpowered by God’s awesome peace and love.

When you’re ready, silently introduce your sacred word, be with God, and just listen.  When you become aware of your thoughts, gently return to the sacred word.  Don’t be discouraged.  Be gentle with yourself.  Think of it as if you’re meeting God in a noisy coffee shop like Starbuck’s.  You’re next to a loud table.  There’s nowhere to move, so you’re trying to focus on what he’s telling you.

It’s important not to get upset about all the distractions.  Don’t worry about your thoughts.  You just let them come and go like noisy distractions in Starbuck’s you ignore, and remain focused on your sacred word and your intention and listen.  Then, at the end of your prayer remain in silence with your eyes closed for a couple of minutes.  It’s awkward at first, but you get used to it.

In case you’re interested in finding out more about Centering Prayer, here’s the website:  http://centeringprayer.com/.  What I love about Centering Prayer is that it emphasizes prayer as your personal relationship with God!  

Where's Your Safe Place?

Years ago, when I went to group therapy at the YWCA, the two therapists who conducted the session told us that it was important for them to create a safe place for us.  They wanted all of us to feel that we could be free to talk about our experiences without being judged or feel uncomfortable in any way.  That's why they wanted to set some ground rules.  Actually, they ended up asking us a series of questions, so we could set the ground rules.  For example, they wanted us to decide what we should do if we run into each other outside of the YWCA like at the store, movies, etc.  We decided that we would not speak to each other until after all of the group therapy sessions were over because we all needed to focus on our own healing.

We always had a good group who respected and supported each other.  We would never ask each other questions about the assaults we experienced.  That was one of the rules and something I don't think we would have ever done anyway.  When it was our turn, we would briefly mention our similar feelings and struggles which reassured someone who just shared their feelings that they're normal and not crazy or weird.  Then we would go onto to share our own feelings and obstacles we were facing.

The whole idea about creating a "safe place" seemed a little weird at the time, but after a while it all made sense.  Everyone whether you're a survivor of sexual violence or not needs somewhere you can just be yourself.  However, survivors need a lot of Tender Loving Care (TLC) when it comes to creating a "safe place."  When society, the media, and even some of those we love and trust blame us instead of the criminal who assaulted us, we need and deserve a "safe place" to be ourselves and say whatever we feel.

Growing up, my "safe place" was beside my mother because whenever I was with her, my father would never touch me.  She died when I was 35, and I was devastated.  My "safe place" and my mother were both gone.  I didn't realize until years later why her death left me depressed for an entire year which almost led me to start drinking excessively.  I also didn't tell any family members about my father raping me until years later.  While I made it through the wake with my father present, when my sister called me about an anniversary mass the following year, I started crying and going into convulsions at the thought of seeing him again, so I decided not to go.  My boyfriend at the time, held me for hours as I lay in a fetal position until I stopped crying and convulsing from exhaustion.

If you don't already have a "safe place," I urge you to find or create one because it will help you in your healing process.  I also recommend you check out the You-Tube video below which features Dr. Esther M. Sternberg where she talks about how important healing spaces are and how they can help trigger the brain's healing process.  Dr. Sternberg is the author of Healing Spaces:  The Science of Place and Well-BeingShe has done extensive research on brain–immune interactions and the effects of the brain’s stress response on health. She is Research Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, Tucson.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkLoHtvwLIA

Where's Your Safe Place?

Years ago, when I went to group therapy at the YWCA, the two therapists who conducted the session told us that it was important for them to create a safe place for us.  They wanted all of us to feel that we could be free to talk about our experiences without being judged or feel uncomfortable in any way.  That's why they wanted to set some ground rules.  Actually, they ended up asking us a series of questions, so we could set the ground rules.  For example, they wanted us to decide what we should do if we run into each other outside of the YWCA like at the store, movies, etc.  We decided that we would not speak to each other until after all of the group therapy sessions were over because we all needed to focus on our own healing.

We always had a good group who respected and supported each other.  We would never ask each other questions about the assaults we experienced.  That was one of the rules and something I don't think we would have ever done anyway.  When it was our turn, we would briefly mention our similar feelings and struggles which reassured someone who just shared their feelings that they're normal and not crazy or weird.  Then we would go onto to share our own feelings and obstacles we were facing.

The whole idea about creating a "safe place" seemed a little weird at the time, but after a while it all made sense.  Everyone whether you're a survivor of sexual violence or not needs somewhere you can just be yourself.  However, survivors need a lot of Tender Loving Care (TLC) when it comes to creating a "safe place."  When society, the media, and even some of those we love and trust blame us instead of the criminal who assaulted us, we need and deserve a "safe place" to be ourselves and say whatever we feel.

Growing up, my "safe place" was beside my mother because whenever I was with her, my father would never touch me.  She died when I was 35, and I was devastated.  My "safe place" and my mother were both gone.  I didn't realize until years later why her death left me depressed for an entire year which almost led me to start drinking excessively.  I also didn't tell any family members about my father raping me until years later.  While I made it through the wake with my father present, when my sister called me about an anniversary mass the following year, I started crying and going into convulsions at the thought of seeing him again, so I decided not to go.  My boyfriend at the time, held me for hours as I lay in a fetal position until I stopped crying and convulsing from exhaustion.

If you don't already have a "safe place," I urge you to find or create one because it will help you in your healing process.  I also recommend you check out the You-Tube video below which features Dr. Esther M. Sternberg where she talks about how important healing spaces are and how they can help trigger the brain's healing process.  Dr. Sternberg is the author of Healing Spaces:  The Science of Place and Well-BeingShe has done extensive research on brain–immune interactions and the effects of the brain’s stress response on health. She is Research Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, Tucson.


What’s the song that makes your spirit soar, and how can you let it transform you?


I believe the nature of music is spiritual.  Certain songs transform your soul.  It’s as if the music and lyrics gently massage your broken heart and spirit leaving you feeling like you can do almost anything.

Looking back, the songs that pulled me through turbulent times ended up being theme songs for what I wanted my life to be like.  They helped me pick myself up, take action, and focus on a brighter future.  Music helped me hold onto my faith in God which saved my life.

In November 2004, the darkness crept into my life again.  The only friend I had nearby, who was married and like a brother to me, made a pass at me knowing that I was a survivor of childhood sexual violence.  Suicidal thoughts started creeping in again.  I was living at the YMCA in Chicago’s Gold Coast in a room the size of a large walk-in closet and working as a security guard in a River North condo building where a resident was trying to get me fired for doing my job.

My life was miserable, but by the grace of God, I persevered.  The darkness overcame me many times back then, but I kept holding on to my faith in God and I wouldn’t let go.  I couldn’t afford an iPod or an Internet connection, so I listened to the radio a lot.  In 2005, Kelly Clarkson’s song “Breakaway” was still popular and became my theme song.  Whenever I heard “Breakaway,” it catapulted me over the rainbow.

Today, I am a happy and peaceful person.  Every sexual violence survivor deserves to live a happy and peaceful life.  You might not feel like it, but you are in control of your life.  You and God, Nature, or whatever you call your higher power.   Together you can do anything.

What’s the song that makes your spirit soar and how can you let it transform you?

Destiny


Here's a rap song, Destiny, that started coming to me while I was putting away groceries one afternoon on February 22, 2009 around 7:30 p.m.  I remember it was same week that we recorded When Life Lets You Down,Get Up!  However, I haven't recorded this one yet.  Words for the missing stanza, the second one from the end, finally came to me September 25, 2009 while I rode the bus home.  I hope you find it inspiring.
Destiny
Destiny, divinity
tell me what you mean to me
closed eyes lead to infinity
my endless possibilites
locked up deep inside of me.
 
Help me end this suffering
Lead me far away from me
Illusions I can't bear to see
Help me find the real me
Buried deep:  divinity.
 
Deny, deny or why do I
Believe I am my body or someone else’s word?
I see dead people have you heard?
Creeping, crawling, wailing, yawning,
pretending to be everything to
everyone, but they can't see they're dead.
 
Smothering their souls inside
They run away and try to hide,
so they won't have to feel the pain.
A candle running from a flame
Afraid they’ll melt and slip away
They live their lives not ever growing
and end up living: but never knowing
about a life pursuing dreams.
How sad and how depressing
They’ll never know what they are missing.
Destiny, divinity
Help me, please, be true to me
Cuz when I am, I’m truly free
I AM TRUE DIVINITY
I am one with God:  you see.
And then, he co-creates with me.
Destiny, divinity
tell me what you mean to me
closed eyes lead to infinity
my endless possibilites
locked up deep inside of me.
 

Destiny


Here's a rap song, Destiny, that started coming to me while I was putting away groceries one afternoon on February 22, 2009 around 7:30 p.m.  I remember it was same week that we recorded When Life Lets You Down,Get Up!  However, I haven't recorded this one yet.  Words for the missing stanza, the second one from the end, finally came to me September 25, 2009 while I rode the bus home.  I hope you find it inspiring.
Destiny
Destiny, divinity
tell me what you mean to me
closed eyes lead to infinity
my endless possibilites
locked up deep inside of me.
 
Help me end this suffering
Lead me far away from me
Illusions I can't bear to see
Help me find the real me
Buried deep:  divinity.
 
Deny, deny or why do I
Believe I am my body or someone else’s word?
I see dead people have you heard?
Creeping, crawling, wailing, yawning,
pretending to be everything to
everyone, but they can't see they're dead.
 
Smothering their souls inside
They run away and try to hide,
so they won't have to feel the pain.
A candle running from a flame
Afraid they’ll melt and slip away
They live their lives not ever growing
and end up living: but never knowing
about a life pursuing dreams.
How sad and how depressing
They’ll never know what they are missing.
Destiny, divinity
Help me, please, be true to me
Cuz when I am, I’m truly free
I AM TRUE DIVINITY
I am one with God:  you see.
And then, he co-creates with me.
Destiny, divinity
tell me what you mean to me
closed eyes lead to infinity
my endless possibilites
locked up deep inside of me.
 

A Litany for Sexual Assault Survivors

*Jesus sets me free.

He sets me free from the sorrow.
He sets me free from the pain.
He sets me free from the feelings I never want to feel again.

He sets me free from the numbness.
He sets me free from the shame that isn’t mine.
He sets me free from the guilt belonging to a criminal / criminals     
     who committed a horrible crime.
He sets me free from an ignorant society blaming victims all the time.

He sets me free from the earthly powers that be.
His right hand reaches out, consoles, and guides me.
He sets me free and my spirit soars beyond my body, space and time.
He sets me free making me His and Him mine.

*Jesus sets me free.

*Please use your own name for your higher power here.

A Litany for Sexual Assault Survivors

*Jesus sets me free.

He sets me free from the sorrow.
He sets me free from the pain.
He sets me free from the feelings I never want to feel again.

He sets me free from the numbness.
He sets me free from the shame that isn’t mine.
He sets me free from the guilt belonging to a criminal / criminals     
     who committed a horrible crime.
He sets me free from an ignorant society blaming victims all the time.

He sets me free from the earthly powers that be.
His right hand reaches out, consoles, and guides me.
He sets me free and my spirit soars beyond my body, space and time.
He sets me free making me His and Him mine.

*Jesus sets me free.

*Please use your own name for your higher power here.

It Won’t Always Be Like This and Self-Care Is Key


I remember asking my therapist when triggers will stop knocking me off my feet.  A survivor herself, she said that over time the lows won’t be as dramatic as they are now, and she was right.  It does get better as long as you’re persistent about self-care.  Without therapy, working on my self-esteem, and prayer, I wouldn’t be guilt-free today.
In my last blog, I mentioned what I do to control flashbacks and gave you some suggestions.  Here I want to talk about the importance of self-care which focuses on changing the negative self-talk in your head to positive affirmations.  Remember, rapists are bullies who terrorize their victims physically and psychologically.  You need to keep their lies from becoming your truths.  If that's already happened, you should work with your therapist to deprogram yourself like I did.
Be vigilant about conquering the lies of the criminal(s) who violated you and brainwashed you into believing everything that happened was your fault when it was ALL their fault.
Remember that criminals are
Cowards
Repulsively
Inhumane
Muttering
Insensitive
Nasty
Asinine
Lying
$#i+!
Please ask your therapist for their recommendations.  Here are mine.  Try keeping a list of five “I am…” daily affirmations where you can see them every day and work on memorizing them.  For example, I am smart.  I am talented.  I am beautiful inside and out.  I am a gift from God to the world.  I am here for a reason.
Then, I suggest writing another list of at least five positive self-talk sentences to replace your worst negative self-talk.  After negative sentences, say, “That’s wrong!”  Then, read your positive ones.  Be sure to read them often every day.  Below are some examples.
1.        It’s all my fault.  That’s wrong!  All of the blame belongs to the criminal(s) who assaulted me.
2.        I’m a horrible person.  That’s wrong!  I am a beautiful person who experienced a horrible crime.
3.        I don’t deserve a better life.  That’s wrong!  I deserve to live a life that surpasses all my hopes and dreams.
4.        I’ll never amount to anything.  That’s wrong!  I have the strength for everything through Him who empowers me.  (Phil 4:13)
5.        I’ll never be happy.  That’s wrong!  I will make myself happy by enjoying life more.
Consider reading these in front of a mirror whenever possible or carrying them with you.
Remember, you are loved.  You are precious.  You are remarkable, and you’re still here for a reason.  Belong to the truth.  

It Won’t Always Be Like This and Self-Care Is Key


I remember asking my therapist when triggers will stop knocking me off my feet.  A survivor herself, she said that over time the lows won’t be as dramatic as they are now, and she was right.  It does get better as long as you’re persistent about self-care.  Without therapy, working on my self-esteem, and prayer, I wouldn’t be guilt-free today.
In my last blog, I mentioned what I do to control flashbacks and gave you some suggestions.  Here I want to talk about the importance of self-care which focuses on changing the negative self-talk in your head to positive affirmations.  Remember, rapists are bullies who terrorize their victims physically and psychologically.  You need to keep their lies from becoming your truths.  If that's already happened, you should work with your therapist to deprogram yourself like I did.
Be vigilant about conquering the lies of the criminal(s) who violated you and brainwashed you into believing everything that happened was your fault when it was ALL their fault.
Remember that criminals are
Cowards
Repulsively
Inhumane
Muttering
Insensitive
Nasty
Asinine
Lying
$#i+!
Please ask your therapist for their recommendations.  Here are mine.  Try keeping a list of five “I am…” daily affirmations where you can see them every day and work on memorizing them.  For example, I am smart.  I am talented.  I am beautiful inside and out.  I am a gift from God to the world.  I am here for a reason.
Then, I suggest writing another list of at least five positive self-talk sentences to replace your worst negative self-talk.  After negative sentences, say, “That’s wrong!”  Then, read your positive ones.  Be sure to read them often every day.  Below are some examples.
1.        It’s all my fault.  That’s wrong!  All of the blame belongs to the criminal(s) who assaulted me.
2.        I’m a horrible person.  That’s wrong!  I am a beautiful person who experienced a horrible crime.
3.        I don’t deserve a better life.  That’s wrong!  I deserve to live a life that surpasses all my hopes and dreams.
4.        I’ll never amount to anything.  That’s wrong!  I have the strength for everything through Him who empowers me.  (Phil 4:13)
5.        I’ll never be happy.  That’s wrong!  I will make myself happy by enjoying life more.
Consider reading these in front of a mirror whenever possible or carrying them with you.
Remember, you are loved.  You are precious.  You are remarkable, and you’re still here for a reason.  Belong to the truth.  

Controlling Flashbacks


Most people are unaware that like war veterans, many rape and sexual assault survivors suffer from PTSD.  We experience flashbacks, too.  They can be anything that reminds us about the assaults.  As I mentioned before, although I can’t remember most of my childhood, I remember enough to know my father did horrible things to me that no child should ever endure.
Last fall, a flashback caught me off guard.  Don’t they all?  After shopping at a mall in Chicago, I walked across the street near a park where I remembered we used to go as kids.  Nostalgic, warm feelings came over me.  Yet, when I tried recalling a single, happy memory, I couldn’t.  They were all buried underneath the horrific traumas I experienced.  I couldn’t remember them no matter how hard I tried, so I cried like a baby.
It took a while, but I calmed myself down.  While it’s important to release my emotions, fears, and anxieties, it’s critical I ground myself in the present moment.  I’ll usually start by taking long, deep breaths and repeat something like "Jesus, I trust in you."  When experiencing overwhelming feelings or flashbacks, I suggest you try taking deep breaths and keep inhaling for a count of three and exhaling for a count of three while seeing yourself in a safe and peaceful place.  Remember, you’re in control of your surroundings now, and you can take control of your flashback.  It’s not easy, but it’s worse if you don’t even try.  Believe me. 
Sometimes it feels like I’m playing tug-o-war with the heavyweight champion of the world.  Then, I remember I have the most powerful weapon to go with my tenacity:  prayer.  Like biblical King David, before I know it, my adversary is history.
Recovering from it takes a lot of TLC, but that’s okay.  I won, and you can, too.  That’s what matters, and you’ll get better at it over time.
Whenever flashbacks persist, tell yourself they are like scary movies.  They are not real and do not have any control over you.  Remind yourself that you are in control of your body and surroundings.  Then, focus on funny and happy thoughts helping you return to the present and stay there.

Please ask your therapist for their recommendations.  Here are mine.  Try writing about how you felt after doing this and taking back your control and consider sharing this with your therapist or someone else you trust.
Remember, you are loved.  You are precious.  You are remarkable, and you’re still here for a reason.  Belong to the truth.

Controlling Flashbacks


Most people are unaware that like war veterans, many rape and sexual assault survivors suffer from PTSD.  We experience flashbacks, too.  They can be anything that reminds us about the assaults.  As I mentioned before, although I can’t remember most of my childhood, I remember enough to know my father did horrible things to me that no child should ever endure.
Last fall, a flashback caught me off guard.  Don’t they all?  After shopping at a mall in Chicago, I walked across the street near a park where I remembered we used to go as kids.  Nostalgic, warm feelings came over me.  Yet, when I tried recalling a single, happy memory, I couldn’t.  They were all buried underneath the horrific traumas I experienced.  I couldn’t remember them no matter how hard I tried, so I cried like a baby.
It took a while, but I calmed myself down.  While it’s important to release my emotions, fears, and anxieties, it’s critical I ground myself in the present moment.  I’ll usually start by taking long, deep breaths and repeat something like "Jesus, I trust in you."  When experiencing overwhelming feelings or flashbacks, I suggest you try taking deep breaths and keep inhaling for a count of three and exhaling for a count of three while seeing yourself in a safe and peaceful place.  Remember, you’re in control of your surroundings now, and you can take control of your flashback.  It’s not easy, but it’s worse if you don’t even try.  Believe me. 
Sometimes it feels like I’m playing tug-o-war with the heavyweight champion of the world.  Then, I remember I have the most powerful weapon to go with my tenacity:  prayer.  Like biblical King David, before I know it, my adversary is history.
Recovering from it takes a lot of TLC, but that’s okay.  I won, and you can, too.  That’s what matters, and you’ll get better at it over time.
Whenever flashbacks persist, tell yourself they are like scary movies.  They are not real and do not have any control over you.  Remind yourself that you are in control of your body and surroundings.  Then, focus on funny and happy thoughts helping you return to the present and stay there.

Please ask your therapist for their recommendations.  Here are mine.  Try writing about how you felt after doing this and taking back your control and consider sharing this with your therapist or someone else you trust.
Remember, you are loved.  You are precious.  You are remarkable, and you’re still here for a reason.  Belong to the truth.

My Imagination Prayer


Every morning I pray for crime victims who have lost their lives to child sexual violence, sexual assault, domestic violence, and all other violent crimes.  Then, I pray for survivors, loved ones, and all who serve them wholeheartedly like therapists, clergy, and nonprofit volunteers.  I ask God to bless them with justice, peace, and continued healing, so their legacy and their lives may far surpass their hopes and dreams.

I pray God shatters their darkness and melts away their uncontrollable and horrifying thoughts and emotions about their assault swirling around inside them torturing their every waking moment.  I ask Him to grant them rest for their weary bodies turned into war zones where they struggle to survive moment by moment knowing another agonizing flashback is coming soon.

I pray for God to melt away their misery along with their worldly fears, anxieties, and everything else that keeps them from Him.  I ask God to melt it all away and draw it to the center of the earth where it disintegrates into nothingness.  Then, I pray He melts their hearts with His sweet, gentle, overflowing love.  The kind of love that makes you cry after a long embrace from a dear loved one. 

I pray they finally hear Him softly whisper, “I love you.  You are mine.  I am here for you until the end of time.”  I imagine their hearts melt and tears well up as they also hear, “All you have to do is call out or speak to me in the silence of your heart.  And, when you don’t even have the strength to do that, just ache for me.  Close your eyes, look for me, and you will find me.  For I live inside you waiting for you to let me love you.  Let me love you.  Let me love you.  Let me love.”

Then, I imagine them opening their hearts and their eyes, and seeing God’s boundless world of all possibilities even if it’s pitch black.  I see their glowing face, and I know God has increased their faith, hope, and love in themselves, in their future, and in God himself.  I pray and imagine they remember this day and continue to grow in faith, hope, and love.  Then, one day soon, they realize they have surpassed their hopes and dreams, so it’s time to search for more and maybe reach out and support loved ones as they struggle with their own healing journey.