Here’s to providing a positive influence on our tomorrow!!!

So what is this healing thing? Can we accept who we are now? What about accepting what we have either done to others or how we have impacted the lives of those who love us?

I’m thinking about where I am now, who I am now; mainly because of building the Butterfly Dreams Abuse Recovery project. I’ve been looking inside myself and trying to find the real me inside the damage for about five years now. It’s been hell!!!

The constant doubting myself and my ability to be me without all the mess attached; trying to get it all back together again and believe that I can help make a difference somehow. This is the struggle of people like us. This is our daily reality, it sucks!!

As I watched one of my most favorite movies this morning, “When a Man Loves a Woman” with Andy Garicia and Meg Ryan, it dawned on me that the process of dealing with an addiction, such as alcoholism as Meg was facing, and seeing how it played in her family life touched a part of me I didn’t recognize.

‘When a man loves a woman’ Meg Ryan, Andy Garcia, directed by: Luis Mandoki–Phenomenal

We’ve all done horrible things and we all have at least one thing we are ashamed of, so does this make us all similar in life? In many ways it does. Each of us has our own mess we are struggling with to keep our heads above water. Each of us is human and we all make mistakes we have to face and forgive ourselves for doing? Each of us is influenced by the ways of our childhood lessons and what we’ve learned in our adult life. To me this makes each of us more like the other than we want to admit sometimes.

At the present, I’m building my dream of providing some form of understanding, support, help for others like myself. The hardest part is believing in my ability to succeed at this and how I can build it into something really amazing. Of course I understand this cannot be done without a huge amount of support from the public. It is another huge step for this survivor and I do pray I won’t fall on my face in the process.

I’m not a perfect person and have never claimed to be one. In fact, most often I am my own worst critic and can be my own abuser. Like the millions of others who have felt this, it is darkest to see what we have done to others throughout our lives and how the choices we’ve made have impacted them. I’ve over celebrated events, such as this past 50th birthday, and then I reason away my stupidity. I’ve inappropriately yelled at my children with an undeserved voice, especially as they were growing up and stressing me out. I’ve taken and popped them upside the head when they did something senseless or talked back. However, slapping them and yelling at them can also be reasoned away as a broken parent who was merely stumbling through life not having a clue how to function in a ‘normal’ world.

‘Does this make the bad we’ve done OK, simply because we can reason it away? Can’t we reason away almost anything?’ 

Thankfully, my kids have all come to me separately and told me I didn’t abuse them so I can give myself a break for this, but that doesn’t mean that the choices I made and decisions to stay didn’t upset their world. My chaotic behavior brushed off on them and its taken longer for them to become functioning and stable in their world.

‘Oh how I hate what my parents created in me!!’

When I published ‘My Justice’ it was my public apology to my children; explaining to them how it all fit together and why it all matters in the big picture of who they are today and how they cope through life. It was admitting all the dark secrets I had been carrying, the guilt and the shame over what happened, but also for how it passed forward into their world.

If they could have seen inside me at 37 years old, making the decision to build a life on our own, walking away from all that had been so normal to me and a man I sincerely loved; perhaps if I had let them see me break down they too might have been able to release what was going on in them; to open up their wounds and allow them to break free from the darkness as well. I fell to my knees in our house when they went on weekend visits with their father. This was after we left their drunken stepfather, got away from the drunken boyfriend, and we were on our own.

Therapy was breaking me into pieces and everything was falling all over the ground. I was like a child trying to pick up all the jacks that had been kicked around for those 32 years. Every time I thought it was alright and I was going to make it; I would start dropping them again, losing one here or there as I went along trying to pretend I could handle all of it. I was a complete wreck. Didn’t realize it was the first time I’d ever FELT about anything that had happened, it was my first mental break down!! Work was a bitch and I under bid myself in pay status so horribly; due to my lack in self confidence and having to prove to myself that I could succeed and break out. This meant we were barely able to make it by, in fact, I had worked my way into a heavy debt trying to make up for all the bad, but I was determined to change their world. If I hadn’t gotten so sick with first the hysterectomy and then the pulmonary embolism, we might just have made it through. However, then I would never have come back to Illinois and would not have met the most wonderful man I have in this present place.

‘There is a purpose for all things; even those we do not understand”

Recovery to me is being able to see all of it for what it is and what it has done to influence the person I am today. I believe that through understanding these wounds and the horrible choices I’ve made, the problems any of us have caused others; we see ourselves in the true light of what is good in us. We don’t have to be perfect. In fact many of us will never be able to get close to that status in society, but isn’t it what we carry inside that matters most?

If we try to keep struggling to meet the standards of others and accomplish only what they expect out of us, how can we ever build our own standards and see the good we’ve accomplished in ourselves?

Recovery is being able to see your good and accept your mistakes, own them, learn from them, understand where your perceptions and mind set was when you made them and then see where it sets with you today. Do you feel the spark of a peace within? Do you have respect for yourself and the fight you’ve put forth to build something better within yourself? This is the beginning!!!

When we understand the how and why, when we admit to our imperfections and how we have been stumbling around in the dark; this is when we begin to see the light ahead. We begin to feel our soul come together as one good human being. We learn to see our reflection as the beauty within rather than the scars we carry. When we reach the point of feeling our present life instead of reacting to our past, this is our baby steps at learning how to live again. We can see the new person coming to life and we have the ability to change what we don’t like in them. We have torn down all the walls protecting that person who was battered. It is now they can begin to spread their wings. We are learning to be a new person and to believe in our possibilities. This is when we have reached the other side of the mountain and have finally been able to grow into who we were intended to be.

If you are at the stages of seeing all that has happened and being sucked into the darkness of your pain and the guilt of harming those around you, this is a dark place for you and I get that completely. You don’t have to stay there however, you can do what’s needed to come into your own person; the good person who huddles inside that block wall. Don’t worry, each of us has our own imperfections and this is who we are. Accepting them for what they are allows you to see past them and you will see the good in you as I have. You will become a new person a person you know is good and would never harm another living soul. A person who shines from within and simply puts her best foot forward each day. Will we slip and drop our jacks, of course we will? Do others have to live life constantly combatting themselves from within? I believe on some level yes they do.

Take a second and close your eyes. Think of who you were just five years ago. Think of all you’ve done that might have negatively impacted the lives of those you love and put them in danger. Now open your eyes and see who you are today, right now!!! What do you see? Would the person you are today make those same choices again or would they try to do it differently and turn it into something more positive? I believe, that most of us would do the later. This is the new person coming to life inside of you. If you like this person build on what you see in their good. Keep making it stronger and challenging yourself to do things a better way. This is how we begin to change the world, one healing survivor at a time. Every painful action matters because each one has influenced the life of another.

Remember, this is the point where every good action matters, because each one will influence the life of another!!!

Here’s to OUR new beginnings and building the person we want to thrive in our world today!!! Here’s to providing a positive influence on our tomorrow!!!

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Childhood Lost…..Early Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse!!

This post may seem triggering to some, but please read it and pass it forward as someone may find the information to lead to an early rescue for a child!!! Thank You!!

As I’ve shared there are happy memories of my childhood that I like to visit now and again. My dad swinging me in the backyard; playing football with my brother and the other neighborhood boys; catching bumblebees in a jar; watching my dad drag race in that awesome red convertible; my favorite, sleeping snuggled in tight with my grandma that last night I visited with the McKnight family.

These are the moments I reach for when I want to think about the happy times as a child. Like many millions of others, unfortunately these are the ONLY happy childhood memories.

It’s tragic to say that after that cold February night in 1963, just after turning five, the happy memories came to a sudden dead halt. After the first time he touched me, made me gag on his tongue as he kissed me; trapped me on the couch as I waited for Richie’s head to explode when he forced him to stand on his head in the corner, all of it was gone. It simply vanished. The laughter and joy I knew as an innocent child was gone. I didn’t play like a child anymore, although I tried.

This was the moment of death for that little girl, she disappeared, hid away in the dark shadows of corners and the brutal deviant behavior of the “New Dad”, as Mom had introduced him.

When the two of them married just two weeks after that first attack, my smile still showed to the outside world, but inside there was nothing; a hallow shell of a little girl with “Dancing Blue Eyes”. I’ve quoted the title of a poem written by Mary E. Graziano, created along with a fabulous recreation of watercolor art from Michal Madison.

I can remember the changes I felt. The cheerful child was forever gone. Sure, I still tried to act as a child, but I couldn’t find her spirit. No matter how hard I searched the playful little girl was gone. My childhood was lost and he had replaced her spirit with constant anticipation of the next attack.

Hi acts caused me to fear sleeping in my own bed. He made me dread the walk home from school with Richie at my side, which I always treasured. He made me hate going in to take a bath; standing on a chair to do dishes; riding in the car; even if I was outside trying to play there was the constant preoccupation of waiting to hear him call me inside.

‘Don’t get too occupied with trying to play, you will hear him soon.”

My heart and soul wanted to run, play, ride my new bike, wade through the creek and play with the cat tails growing wild on the bank. I wanted to walk home from school and think about dodging the cracks in the sidewalk.

“Step on a crack – break your mother’s back.” I used to always dodge those cracks; carefully making sure not to hurt my dear mother!!!

This new child was playing very differently now. My barbies and ‘Ken” took turns rubbing naked bodies together. The girl I used to play with next door was banned from being around me because her mother caught me playing with the dolls while visiting in their house one day.

I brought the little boy down the street inside our house to play one afternoon when Mom was home and Grandma Moody, Mom’s mom, was over for a visit and getting a home perm in her hair. The little boy and I went into my room, closed the door, I laid on the bed and pulled down my britches. Then I began to show him this “new way of playing”.

I believe we might have been in there for about thirty minutes before Mom yelled out for us to come out of my room. I couldn’t get the button on my britches fastened up so I pulled my shirt down over it and tried to hide it. Mom asked as we walked out of the room, “Why are your pants undone?” I don’t remember what I gave as an answer, but she let me go and sent us out the door.

That wasn’t enough for this new little girl, so I took him in the back of our house where an old mattress had been put out for trash. Right out in the open I went back to teaching this little boy how to “play”. We weren’t out in the country. There was a house in back of ours and on the one side, but I’m guessing no one saw us. It wasn’t long before the little boy got up and went running away, leaving me there with my britches unfastened and wondering why he ran off so fast.

Walter’s constant sexual stimulation of the little girl caused me to continually engage in self stimulation and misguided behavior with my barbies. Instead of dancing around like a princess, chasing a football with my brother, or wading through the creek; I was involved with educating other children on how I was getting touched and how it felt. I was involved with sexual stimulation that I should not have known anything about. It wasn’t long before there weren’t any neighborhood children who were permitted to hang out with me.

This is the type of childhood change that happens when we are forced to engage in early sexual behaviors. We don’t realize how wrong it is and why should I have? There wasn’t anyone who ever told me any different. No one said, “Trecia Ann what are you doing? Where did you learn this kind of stuff?” Maybe it would have made a huge difference in the next twelve years of my life, perhaps changed the outcome of it all.

This is an example of the early silent signs of sexual abuse in our young children. The children who are too young to verbalize what is happening to them.

Our world is full of sexualized media through commercials, internet and even some of the “Disney” movies have these little silent sexual behaviors and signals. One I remember my own children brining to my attention; the word “Sex” appearing in “The Lion King”.

Our children see us hug, kiss, and may even unexpectedly walk into Mom and Dad’s bedroom, but for most purposes our young children do not automatically know these types of sexual behaviors. These acts have to be shown to them; taught to them in some form by some person.

Our young children, ages one to ten, should not know any of these acts or what these acts are like. They should not know what masturbation feels like or seek out ways to get sexual stimulation. They should not act this out with dolls, stuffed animals or engage other children in these behaviors.

If you see your child stimulating themselves or engaging in other such behaviors, BE VERY CONCERNED!!! Someone has exposed your child or taught them about these feelings of stimulation. Children at these early years inadvertently share these acts publicly in some fashion. You will see them acting out these behaviors in some form. Children can’t help it. It is a natural reaction to seek out the pleasurable sensations, and when they are this young they are too innocent to try and hide if from anyone.

When they demonstrate these acts they are giving you the SILENT WARNING OF ABUSE!!! DON’T IGNORE IT!!! First consider your child’s age. Consider what they might have seen in their environment and then ask a few innocent questions such as these below;

“Where did you learn how to do that? Did someone teach you how to play like that? Did you see it on a television show or a movie? Who were you watching the movie with? Did someone else touch you there like that or did they ask you to touch them there?”

These are just a few examples of some questions you can ask without alarming your child with concern. Don’t go into panic, keep the conversation on their level and in an innocent manner. Don’t make them feel as if they are in trouble for acting this way or for doing something such as touching themselves. You don’t want to show concern, because your child will clam up and dodge showing any future behaviors such as this in any form where they can be caught. You will place misguided blame on them, even if you do not intend to do so. A child will automatically absorb blame if they feel you are not happy in some way.

You can provide the much-needed early intervention and rescue your child from future sexual abuse if you simply watch and listen to how your young children play. If you are aware of these early silent warning signs of abuse, then you can better protect your child.

It is the “innocent” play time that can give you the best insight to what they cannot yet verbalize. This is something that all persons who have contact with young children should watch for within families, amongst friends, in neighborhoods, or children you babysit. You can make a big difference in their world if we simply pay attention to what they cannot yet tell us.

(c)Patricia A. McKnight

Advocate/Author/Speaker/Examiner/Talk Radio Host/Survivor

Please be sure to visit the NEW WEBSITE

http://www.patriciamcknightsjustice.com