Blood In The Water – The Bigger The Injury, The Better The Healing

The guy in this photo has been stuffed and all his top teeth removed.  Which is how I think sharks should be.  But this post isn’t really about them, it’s about blood in the water.  It draws sharks but they aren’t the only predators that find victims.  Human predators do too.  Blood in the water also refers to children – and the adults they become – who have been sexually abused.  They carry a kind of stain, a mark, which has a feel to it.  Just as sharks get attracted to the blood, so predators get drawn to that stain.  It’s often not visible to people who haven’t been abused.

A victim can carry it around for years in adulthood – sometimes even their whole life – without being aware of it, and never realize that all the people in their world are predators.   It doesn’t just draw predators, though, it also makes the victim a target for bullies at many levels. One member of a family can have been abused and have the stain, and the rest of the family can never have known.  But they treat that member differently.  They can gang up on and make him/her the scapegoat.  Without realizing it.

It seems like a harsh life experience to have to go through; first being abused then being rejected and bullied and abused some more until you learn about the stain you carry.  And it is harsh.  Big wounds need a lot of healing, and life can be pretty much interrupted while that’s happening.  Plus the people you don’t want in your world – predators – are drawn to you and the ones you do want turn away, because it’s scary dealing with somebody who’s been victimized and hasn’t found their power yet.

But here’s the thing.  When it’s that brutal and challenging and you feel like you’re in the wilderness and you’ve got nothing, your craving for true unconditional love is raw and fierce. So you go in search of real high quality love and you don’t settle until you find somebody who wants to give it.  It’s about being allowed to speak and express; being heard and appreciated.  Having all my questions answered intelligently.  Never being dismissed, never  judged.

Being taught how to listen to and express emotions safely all the time, how to set boundaries.  Always being taken seriously, being celebrated, applauded, congratulated.  Being enjoyed,  remembered, defended, getting sane teaching about how life and people work.  Learning the different parts of my own mind, and how they operate.   The experience of that kind of quality input really does something to your self esteem and entitlement, let me tell you.

I tried changing my self esteem and lousy entitlement with just getting my head around the theory, but all I did was get clever.  My thinking brain didn’t enable me in any real way.  My heart did, through that very consistent experience of love over more than ten years.  It created a solid knowledge of my value and rights which I can act on, and which nobody can take from me.  You can know it intellectually but still not be able to stop people trampling all over you.  Know it in your heart and your life changes.

Blood in the water.   With a big injury the healing always takes you way, way beyond where you were when you were injured.  I’ve heard it said love your enemy because they bring you your greatest opportunity.   I never want to hear it while I’m wrestling with a challenge, but once I’m through it I can see, it’s true.  I have more knowledge and understanding of myself and people and life now than I could ever have had if I hadn’t been abused.  Weird, huh.

Getting the Wake-Up Call as a Race

There are so many gloom-and-doomers who think the world is in a downward spiral, that we’re irrevocably doomed to annihilation of our race and our beautiful planet.  But I believe they’re wrong.  I know we instinctively stay nestled in comfort zones and choose the easy option which works in the short term but can destroy ourselves or others in the long one.  We also don’t seem to learn much about our self-destructive tendencies until they create situations which are intolerable.  Then we wake up.  Sometimes.  Sometimes we don’t, and we hope we can get away with it.

We never do, though.  Once we get a reveille call, we’re en route to having to wake up whether we want to or not.  It’s true for individuals, societies and the whole human race.  It’s our saving grace.  Part of our evolutionary make-up.  So, I know the world looks as if it’s in a shocking state – and in many ways it is.  Human trafficking???   Rape, murder, violence, abuse of children, pedophilia, political corruption.  You name it, we’ve got it all.  And we’re destroying the planet – either actively, or passively.

But what if the result of our actions has reached such a level of degredation that we’re finally responding to the wake-up call that is nothing more than the better part of ourselves?   The part which needs to see life being cherished above all else.

The stories that are being exposed by the media are horrendous.   I certainly can’t get my head around the idea of a girl child being sold into sexual slavery by her father for a few measly dollars.    Nor can I fathom the new immigration law in Arizona which is paving the way for racial profiling and is driven by fear and prejudice.   Or the way the ANC in South Africa has become so corrupt, betraying everything Nelson Mandela established.

But I don’t think we’re in a downward spiral.  I think we’re stepping out of history.  Ignorance is bliss, but it leads us to do terrible things.  Facing the truth is always incredibly painful and challenging.  But there’s something in our intrinsic make-up that’s drawing us towards that truth.  So we can deal with it.  And we are.  An enormous number of people are rallying in a meaningful way to stop human rights violations.  They want to be part of a solution.  Consciousness of the value of life is increasing exponentially.

Our evolution used to be focused on physical survival.  But once we got that down to a certain degree, our aspirational self started developing.  Now our evolution is emotional, and we’re becoming more conscious of each other and how much we need a quality of life that isn’t just about how many cars we drive.  We’re realizing we have the right to do more than just survive at any cost.   We have the right to experience love and be cherished.  To do what makes our heart sing.  To not give up on our dreams.  To fight for our rights as individuals, communities and as a race.

So I don’t think we’re in a worse place than we’ve ever been before.    We’re just better informed about the reality of who we’ve always been.  We’re shining the torch on it.  It’s only when we see and accept the reality of our limits that we can go beyond them.  I think that’s what’s happening now, and that the most powerful driving force within us is luring us towards moving beyond those limits towards that which is better.

A Better View of Rescue

My blog about rescue of any sort but including money was simplistic and had layers and layers of Catholic-driven judgment just under the surface.  I hate that Catholic side of me, judging myself, judging other people.

I think this is a more balance view: when you hit the skids, you need help to get up, and you’re entitled to ask for it in the best way that you know how.   In fact, you’re entitled to ask for help whether you’re on skid row or not.   Nobody’s got the right to judge you, because they’re not inside your head or your experience, and they don’t what your journey is.  You’re the only one who knows that.

People are also entitled to say no if they want to.  It cuts both ways.

I hold onto the idea that money on its own doesn’t solve the problem, but at least you’re trying to survive, you aren’t giving up, and that’s the part you can be proud of and hold onto.  There’s no place at all for judgment in this, actually, it just mutilates.   There’s no place for judgment ever.   When a person’s down it’s a horrible place to be.  The worst torture of all is to be trapped in believing that it’s everybody else’s fault – because it renders you absolutely powerless.  You have to work real hard to get out of that one!

I also meant what I said about the real solution; that learning to be accountable is what gets you back on your feet in a way that you don’t fall down again.

And I believe that requires a real, live relationship with a therapist who can teach you gently over time, with infinite care, patience and unconditional love, so you finally get to understand that being accountable isn’t about saying “I was a bad person and I must pay for my sins”.  It’s about seeing that you made choices and they had consequences.

Part of the knowledge is also seeing that you were doing your best, that your choices were driven by unresolved things within yourself you weren’t even aware of.  It’s about having desperately needed unconditional love but not having known how to find it except by being destructive to self and others to a greater or a lesser extent.

I’m sure we’re born with the innate knowledge of how to recognize healthy love, but it gets conditioned out of us through our experiences with our parents, family etc.  We learn that we’re not okay, we’re not lovable, not safe in the world.   As a child if I don’t get the love I need I conclude I’m not lovable.  I never conclude there’s something wrong with my parents or the way they’re behaving towards me.  I also conclude I don’t have the right to the quality of love I naturally yearn for in every cell of my body.

I’ve come across so many adults who can’t acknowledge that their parents didn’t give them what they needed.  They’d rather blame themselves for being somehow at fault.   For the longest time I thought you had to have been violently and obviously abused either physically or emotionally to have been negatively affected by your childhood, and I think that’s quite a generally held opinion.

People who are trapped within themselves say “but I had a happy childhood, my parents loved me, they had a great marriage”.   I don’t think that’s always denial, I think it’s also that people don’t realize how intense a child’s needs are, and how much every tiny nano-experience impacts massively on it, forcing it to adapt its behavior.

So, part of being accountable is looking at the truth of those early experiences and seeing how your needs as a child weren’t met – and how painful it was – and how that led you to adopt patterns of behavior.  Back then you didn’t have any choice, you had to adapt or die.

But skid row as an adult is a different story.  Once you see where your behavior comes from, you do have a choice.  You can choose to seek the love and support and teaching you didn’t get.   You can fill up the experiential gaps.  I know, because I’ve done it and still do it.  If I listen very well and with focus, I can feel the yearning in my body that comes up in all sorts of situations.  A longing to cry, yell, speak, feel safe, touched, heard, spoken to.  When my needs are met as well as I long for them to be, deep inside of myself I can feel – I have to use this word, though it’s become such a tawdry cliché – healing.  Slowly my world view changes, as does my behavior.

The basic challenge isn’t about money, I believe that, but while you’re facing all of this, you have to stay alive, which does take money.  So if part of your challenge is that you’re not good at generating it, you have to ask for help.  And it’s okay to do it.  If that’s the best thing you can think of to do, it’s got to be okay.

If people want to say no that’s their right, and you’re allowed to reach out to somebody else. Hopefully you aren’t using the money to avoid the real challenge of facing yourself, but even if you are, you’ll get to understand that, at some point.  Life will lead you there.   You won’t be condemned to hell for it.

We’re allowed to make mistakes – it better be okay, since it’s the only way we know how to learn!  We’re allowed whatever learning curve we need.  And I believe that life supports us along it.

Gently does it.

Solutions rolling in

I’m happily astonished.  Pinch me, is this real?

I’ve needed a scanning resource for so long as I have a ton of slides I took when I first bought my camera more than 10 years ago.   I really loved photography, and wanted to go further with it, but I see so clearly now that I couldn’t see a way forward.  All I saw was “it’s impossible for you”.  And then I lost everything and didn’t have a digital camera or internet and everything became too expensive and difficult.  And I believed there was no solution.

My photography-desire has always lain dormant but resonating.   I want to do it, I love photographs passionately.  But I’ve just always thought I couldn’t somehow, because I don’t have  a digital camera and my old (quite nice) camera is too expensive to use.   Then today I was told about the online photo stock industry, and light bulbs went off.  I have a ton of photos – mostly slides though.  I’ve always thought it would cost too much to have them scanned.  I’ve also never understood how to make a website or do online marketing.

Today I was given free access to a scanner which does prints and slides. Another whole new world opening up for me.  And no barriers to stop me entering.  I can build my own website, load my photos, flog them, do what I want with them.  And when some money comes in I want a really good digital.

I’ve also needed  a Paypal account, and haven’t been able to set one up because I haven’t been officially rehabilitated from bankruptcy – because it costs too much, of course!  I’ve felt quite desperate about that and frustrated, because it restricts the amount of internet business of any sort that I can do.

Bingo.  Today somebody set up Paypal for me

The obstacles that have been in my way are melting.  It’s extraordinary.  It has been so flipping hard for me to make my way in the world, it’s seemed at times completely impossible that I’d ever scrape myself off the pavement after bankruptcy, and worse, that I’d ever recover from my childhood.  For the longest time all I heard from the world was NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

The only person saying YES was my therapist.   That’s where it all started, this journey towards stepping out of my history.

Now the YES’s are starting to roll in.  It’s as if all the chains that bound me are loosening, slipping down to the ground.  I can step out of them.  I can finally see the real, material effect in my life of all the inner work.

If I look back, I guess it’s been happening slowly, methodically for a long time now, I just haven’t been conscious of it.   It isn’t a big whammy overnight miracle now, either.  It’s still methodical, progress on all fronts, but the curve is getting quite exponential, and I’m getting more YES’s than NO’s.  Wait a minute, I can’t remember the last time I got a NO.  Small things, big things, people saying yes all the time, opportunities opening out, friendships being forged.

Holy cow.  I look around me in astonishment.  Could it be possible, have I made the transition to a world that says YES to me?  Can that be the normal thing in my life?  I believe it can. You better believe I believe it!

Is it true, that it doesn’t have to be difficult for me to survive in the world, to flourish, to be happy, content, fulfilled?

How can I describe to you what it feels like to be experiencing “yes” from life?   I know it’s not a miracle, I know it’s the result of all the therapy work I’ve done, of all the years I’ve had the good fortune to experience unconditional parenting love and incredible support.  Still, I have to say it feels like a miracle.

I big, shiny, wonderful miracle.

Stepping out of history from then to now in a real way, not just in my head and my fantasy.

Whoo boy, this feels good.