The wounds you can’t see…..

There are many different truths of being a survivor of trauma that I’ve shared in the past two years. Almost everyday I try to share something positive to empower others like myself, to inspire hope for a new awakening to the truths of the damage inflicted by the acts and the darkest of mankind’s evil actions against another.

As many of you are aware also, I spent not only twelve years enduring the vicious attacks, both physical and sexual, from my stepfather; the endless rejection from my family, but also twenty years of repeated physical attacks from FIVE separate men. This isn’t to say that only men are the attackers, it’s just what I went through. (There are thousands of women who are very aggressive and who need the power over others).

So now I look at where I am today. I always talk about living in your present. For most survivors, this means we have to TAKE CONTROL OF OUR THOUGHTS. We have to concentrate and keep them from getting sucked into the past. I, and many like me, deal with this every moment of every day!!! Try it for awhile, it’s not an easy task and it takes time to become good at focusing your energy on staying in the positive. It’s difficult enough for anyone in today’s world, but for someone who has gone through years of brutal trauma; it’s truly much more difficult. Not something I would wish on any other being.

How do I see myself right now?

1) My life is in a very safe place.

2) It is well supported (for the most part anyway). I really don’t have family or friends from my past that are with me now. There are a few who have come from my hometown of Freeburg, a few who I went to school with and their parents know mine. It is not their fault of what happened to me. Its not their fault they didn’t say something or question. They were kids like me and it was a different time in our world. Kids didn’t speak against parents and no one talked about abuse or violence in the home. Sadly this is why we have so many of us who are survivors now. The cruelty of our parents came from the cruelty and discipline of their parents. We live what we know and patterns of acceptable behavior are formed. However, there were many adults who had both a responsibility to question and the authority to help rescue. For today though my friends both who have come into my life through Robbie, and those I have made in the virtual world of social networking; these are the people that stand by me now and accept all I am today. This is huge for me. Never before have I felt like I didn’t have to hide from anyone or hide the truth of who I am and what happened. This is my empowerment and the strand of hope that guides me through.

3) My physical health is a wreck; multiples of vertebral and spinal cord traumas. I suffer from Syringomyelia, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Obstructive Pulmanary Disease, the early stages of Atherosclerosis, Neuropathy in my hands and feet from the spinal cord damage, which caused severe burning, stinging, numbness in my fingers and toes and heels. I’m not wheelchair bound, but not far from it sometimes. There are instant migraines that can hit by simply turning my head to quick to look at something. There are many days that it’s difficult to even climb out of bed.

4) My mental health is a constant work in progress. Do I feel good about where I am today? Yes, but there are still the lasting effects from the attacks. I go through cycles of depression. Most days are pretty good, but then one morning I wake up and all I want to do is sleep it away. I get startled very easily. It freaks me out when my dog pants heavy. These days I don’t feel the need any longer to lock the bathroom door, at least most times when showering, but I still get sudden sensations of my stepfather sneaking outside the shower curtain. When I run a tub of water, I am reminded of having my head shoved under and the attempted (almost completed) drowning at 19. This happened a lot with the first of my chosen men. There are moments and memories of all the attacks that stay with me.

5) The relationships with my children are strained at best. Things happened that placed them in danger, by choices of both their father when he ran with them and me with my different abusive husband/boyfriends. Their stepfather was in my life for either years and only the first six months were pretty. There was one that struck my teen daughter and I ended up in jail for punching him in the face. There was another that threw my daughter into a closet door as he tossed her away when she was trying to defend me. There were constant days of walking on eggshells for them and worrying about if they were too loud, left their toys out, if they stomped around too much upstairs. They had dinners of waiting for the explosion or waiting for the drunk to come through the door. It was horrible for them, how can I expect us to have a healthy relationship? How can I expect them to have healthy relationships and view their life without memories, flashbacks, triggers, repeated patterns of behavior and more?

So why do I give so much of myself to staying in a positive light? I know that with my health, I’ll be lucky to have another FIVE good years. I know this reality and Robbie does as well. It’s alright, I don’t worry about the day of dying; I worry about what happens after I’m gone. Have I given all I can to try to help others learn the importance of being decent, helping to rescue and support those who live with this trauma? Is publishing my story and being an advocate with true passion enough to tell my children how sorry I am for all they had to go through? Will I really be able to build something from all of the bad that’s happened so that I can provide some type of change for the future? All the years of pain have to mean something, it cannot be just because that’s what happened. It cannot be that a soul can be so destroyed and controlled by so many different offenders and live for over THIRTY years accepting these attacks; believing that you deserved each and every single one, this cannot be my only existence in this world.

Moving into 2013 I have shared the new website, http://www.butterflydreamsabuserecovery.com I have also shared our radio show will be starting NEXT FRIDAY!!! On Jan 04, 2013 – I will be broadcasting our first show and the other hosts will be calling in to announce their programs. I’m really excited about bringing all of this to one focal point. The website, the Survivors World support group, Generation No More, it’s all coming together and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve spent the greater part of the past two years trying to decide how I really wanted to help. This provides all I was aiming at doing before the Good Lord takes me away.

Staying positive for me is absolutely necessary!!! I cannot maintain any other way. There is too much pain and dark memories that climb into my world as it is, there are too many moments of my wanted happy life that have been disrupted already. I can’t let the numerous abusers of my past take away what’s left of my life. I will not allow myself to wallow in what has been, but instead my drive and my focus is aimed at what I can try to change. In my heart and in my soul I believe there are thousands of women just like me; beaten down from a brutal life of accepting so many violent attacks. There are some still living in these types of relationships, there are others who are still living in the silent pain of what’s happened. There are millions of men who are also finally finding out it’s alright to say, ‘I Hurt’!!! We do hurt, and it sucks, but do not give in and let them win. Please take back the happy moments you deserve in this life. You are not born to be a target of others. You are not given life just so others can destroy it. Every living being has a purpose on this earth. There is life inside every heartbeat. How can we pretend that all of this means nothing?

Hopefully all of you who read this will find one strand of hope written within these truths. It’s not easy to be us, it sucks to be one who was so wrongfully abused and had an entire lifetime taken from them. How can we not try to seek out that star of ours? How can we allow someone to endure this dark pain alone? Friends, there is no other option but to keep moving forward and continue putting forth the effort to live happy!!!

May your new beginning that comes with the spirit of the New Year, 2013; be one that you grab onto and live it for all its worth. May you know unconditional love and feel the friendship of those who see your inside self and still accept who you are. May you build dreams and chase them, create them, design them, and allow them spirit to fly. I’ve given my project the name Butterfly Dreams Abuse Recovery because I want to help others climb out of the cocoon of their past, no matter what that past has attached. If you are unhappy in life, there is only one person who can change what is. Spread your beautiful wings and become all that you were born to be. Find the you that lives inside and wants to now have their turn. We can all find reasons and excuses why we don’t chase after better happier ways, but it shows great courage to climb out from under all the sadness and pain; picking up the puzzle pieces of your life and building, recreating, the beautiful spirit within.

Here’s to giving hope and love to your dreams come true!!! May you walk proud and with glory for all you’ve overcome.

Be magical, Be you Smile

© Patricia A. McKnight

Advocate/Author/Speaker/Writer/Radio Host/Survivor

Fndr/Pres: Butterfly Dreams Abuse Recovery

My Justice’ – This is not about any legal form of justice ever received or charged in my story. The justice is in finally finding my voice and the courage to talk about all that’s happened; the impact it left on me; the cycle that moved forward to my children.

May you find peace and justice in speaking about your truth!!!

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Three Coping Skills Everyone Can Use–becoming your own thriver!!!

We all have something that has happened to darken our world, even those who are just regular folks and have never experienced any form of abuse or violence, still have something that has invaded their life with a cloud of bad memories. It’s really hard to focus on our present life when we have all of these dark thoughts around us; even sharing online with others and staying in the advocacy mission can keep these memories bouncing around and often they will overpower what is good.

It is painful to acknowledge what happened. To accept the pain and anger, the grieving and sadness is important to fully heal and process what has been buried for so long, but at the same time we have to remain conscious of our present day life in order to find the strength to get through this. I really find it is hardest during the beginning process of this because you have to accept the truth and come out of your dissociation and denial mode of living. There is a lot I’ve learned about living in my present life rather than being sucked into the horrible times of my past. There are many times during the days of being home alone with just my thoughts, when I find myself facing these memories. It’s during all these quiet moments of being alone that I have to work hardest at a practice I’ve been doing for about 12 years, DISTRACTING MY BRAIN FROM THE BAD!!!

The truth is WE CANNOT TAKE AWAY WHAT’S HAPPENED and sometimes it is very difficult to accept; even more so when family and loved ones shut us out, blame us, abandon us and turn away from the pain we carry. We feel as if we are in a cyclone of whirling emotions and don’t know how to stay grounded. It is indeed a tragedy of what’s been taken from you, what’s been lost in your world and the good others invaded. However, the hard part is realizing the world keeps spinning and you must find a way to go on with your life.

Finding ways to GO ON with life, doesn’t mean living in denial nor does it mean you are ignoring what’s happened; it means  YOU ARE NOW IN CONTROL OF WHAT HAPPENS!!! Yes, you have choices and you are in control of how this effects your life.

1) You can whine and wallow in the horrible trauma you’ve suffered and stay in the rut of darkness. However if you choose this place you must realize the world will not stop spinning and others will go on with their life; no one will stay in the dark world and you will find yourself sinking deeper each day.

2) You also may think you have the option to take yourself out of the picture because it is too hard to deal with, but let me assure you; THIS IS NOT AN OPTION!!! If you respond to your pain and allow it to control your world, then you may think the only way to beat this is by harming yourself in some way. YOU MUST NOT ACT ON THESE THOUGHTS!!! Suicide or committing an act of harm in any way is NEVER AN OPTION!!! You leave behind pain for those who love you; your children, their future, your spouse or partner; these are the people who want to be part of your life and want to make fresh happy memories with you, which will ease the pain of your past when you allow them to blossom!!!

(National Suicide Prevention Lifeline; when you need immediate contact with a voice!!! Please Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Do not allow the abusers of your past to have control over your future. Build something better for yourself. Chase the life you were meant to have and replace those bad thoughts with positive, happy, loving memories of your children or what you want to have in your life. No matter how difficult it may get, and it is very difficult at the different stages of acceptance and healing, but never allow yourself to be over powered by these dark memories. Never give in to the thoughts of being overwhelmed, reach out to connect with anyone when these thoughts begin to take control. You may not believe there are people who depend on you to make them complete and happy, but every soul in this world has at least one person who needs them and loves them unconditionally.

There is a lot we fear; a lot we are angry about; a lot of things can set off a feeling of panic, this is now just a part of who we are. No one can erase or change what has happened. Believe me I wish there was a way to make it all just disappear, but there isn’t. None of us can turn back the clock and what would you do if you could? You would still be that same person faced with the same fear, so why be stuck in that time?

It’s important for anyone who struggles with depression, PTSD, flashbacks, or bad dreams and memories to seek out what is good in their life now. A few important things to focus on, which may help you fight through:

1) Are you in a safe environment? Remembering that you are now safe and no longer have to fear another attack is vital. Although you may be dealing with painful memories or flashbacks of what happened, you can always direct your focus and control your thoughts to feel the area of safety around you now.

2) Who are those you can turn to when things feel overwhelming? Creating this list, complete with phone numbers, will give you a quick go to list of someone who can brighten your moment during your time of need. When you build this list take extra time to think of your partner/spouse; determine if you can talk to them about your darkest thoughts. You want to talk and help them understand why you bounce back and forth between happy and depressed times. It makes it easier for them to stick it out and support you or help you through.

3) What are the positives in your life now? You want to think about your life and where you are now. Not only are you safe and loved, but what about your ability to keep food, clothing, shelter, for you and your family. Our world is in economic crisis right now, so if you can manage those three vital parts of surviving you are doing much better than some others in our country. Many are without housing, hungry, out on the streets or living in their cars. Many do not have jobs of any form to keep a steady flow of income to ensure the necessities are being maintained. This is a HUGE POSITIVE for you and should be your main focus, especially if you have children. Also list any other positives about your life right now, such as; your professional success or the fact you have risen above any other person’s expectations. This meaning, you may have been beaten down to believe you had no value, but if you are in a career or professional status of maintaining your survival; then you have risen above what others may have tried to take away from you.

I realize this time of year is difficult for many of you, but if you are not focused on what is good around you now, then your bad thoughts will win control and the depression will become heavy. You must work at being a thriver in society, but that’s OK because everyone has to work at being a thriver. You are no different than anyone else in our society. Sure you have had bad things happen, or have family who continues to be offensive or battering to you, but if you really take control of your thoughts and where you are right now, then you become stronger with each passing moment and you will build your foundation for the life you want to achieve.

My wish for all of you at this time is that you see how truly strong you are. I wish for you to look in the mirror and see an amazing person standing there. A person who has climbed out of the darkest hole to see the brightness shining around them. A person who is stronger than anyone ever believed possible. A person who has overcome the challenges against them and have pulled themselves from the ashes of destruction and built a magnificent blossoming rose in its place. May you find a breath of strength to seek your own life and see your value, absorb the positive around you, and build fresh happy memories to replace the darkness of your past.

May you break out of your cocoon and spread those beautiful wings to fly upward to your new beginning!!!

Patricia A. McKnight

Author: ‘My Justice’

Founder/President: Butterfly Dreams Abuse Recovery

http://www.butterflydreamsabuserecovery.com

Join me in Survivors World by visiting the website above and completing the membership form. Both men and women who are victims/survivors are welcomed.

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