Tag Archives: God

Masks and Racism

Psychologist here. Well, where are we now? The virus and all its challenges we thought was lifting and we thought life would come to a new better normal. Now, we have riots, racism that has been underground for decades. Now the virus is escalating. Now we have no clue what the politically right words are to use any more.  BUT all of it needed to surface like our trauma that is buried deep in the community so we can heal. Otherwise the darkness and all its pain in world go deep and infect us. This includes hatred, pain, fear and lies to name a few. We have to look at ourselves and see where we can make a difference and change our world.

The damage of racism is deep, old and full of fear. It is a place to put our insecurities, fear, anger, hurt and hatred. When we can blame and dump our stuff on someone else, then we sadly feel better and superior so we don’t deal with our stuff. Repeated thoughts and feelings create permanent neuron paths so racism is usually well entrenched physically in our brains so we have to WORK at changing it. We have to WORK at being kind and caring. My parents were racist due to culture and ignorance. I chose to do better for me and my children which meant I had to change deeply imprinted hate messages to God’s love messages. It took work!

And now to masks which is more complicated than it appears. That tiny mask is loaded feelings, beliefs, thoughts, hurts, sadness and tons of FEAR and ANGER!! We are afraid and angry about ours and the world’s situation. Basically, we can do nothing to be in control or change it, or in our world for that matter, except for the choice to wear or not. Our fear says we have lost control and there is no safe place in the world. Our little mask becomes something we can control. There are many reasons to wear or not so there is constant debate about it.

What is the answer? Feeling our feelings fully and APPROPRIATELY. NEVER act out on your feelings. Never hurt anyone because you are feeling. Seek God. He loves you dearly even if it does not seem like it. He is the only one that can fix and save us and our world. God helps us with the hard choices of choosing to be kinder and reaching out to help others. No laws are going to make the changes we need, only God can save us from ourselves.

 

FEAR AND HELP

For those of us who have been traumatized, this virus may be triggering old fear. We may find ourselves becoming more vigilant and trying to stay safe. Sadly, there is not safe place now, no place to hide or escape to. The virus has permeated our lives from what we do, shopping, relationships, etc.

Before we could sometimes escape, run, hide, stay away; sometimes we just had to endure. Now, with this virus, we are enduring. That creates pain deep inside of us and possibly a panic to run anywhere to escape, but there is no place to go. Which leaves us in the pain and trying to escape it other ways, such as self-harm, drugs/alcohol, hurting others, etc.

I am reaching out to those individuals who relate to the above pain or to those who are caring for them or are in some kind of relationship with those individuals. This is important. YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS! Please get help.

If, however, you are in a situation where you or your children are being abused because you can’t get out or away, there is help. Hotlines, police, someone you trust. There is help. Or contact me and I will contact someone to help.

This time is difficult but help is still available.  If you were abused and old memories and feelings are being triggered, surfacing again, call a therapist, a counselor and get going on your healing. Yes, healing is painful, hard and I wish we never had to do it, BUT if we have been traumatized, we HAVE TO HEAL! And when we heal, we find freedom, joy, love and we come to know it wasn’t our fault.  We also discover we like ourselves versus hating ourselves! That is often seen as a miracle. Another amazing thing are the gifts that God gives us when we heal! We always gain wisdom from healing! I love the wisdom! That is special knowledge that helps us get through life.

Please get the help you need. It is available even in these tough times.

Blessings, peace and healing.

STAGES OF LONELINESS

The Experience of Loneliness

Loneliness seems to be a constantly companion in our survival journey. There are moments or seasons of our lives where it doesn’t seem so bad, then it surfaces like an additional punishment until we deal with it. Loneliness has feelings of being lost, afraid, sad, depression, desperation, defective, rejection, and other feelings. All of them need to felt, processed and learned from.

Tom said it this way:

“I can’t keep pretending! I can’t! I am lonely! Horribly lonely and there is no escape! I can’t escape me! I am the one that is bad and terrible because I don’t have any friends. Actually, if I am honest, I never really did. I knew I wasn’t okay and that is why I didn’t have any friends. There was a time when I was raising my children when it didn’t seem so bad. But since then it has come back to punish me. Now I’ve carried that awful pain into adulthood and I don’t let anyone close to me because they will know how awful I am and defective. I really don’t know how to be a friend. I have come to accept that I will be lonely the rest of my life.” (Tom came to accept his loneliness as permanent, until he did his healing work.)

I have wondered about loneliness, are the existentialist right? Are we destined to travel our lives alone with intense loneliness? With loneliness comes depression, anger, hurt and tangles around everything in our lives. We may blame others when we are lonely – Why aren’t they there for me? Where are they? They don’t care! Don’t they know I am hurting and so alone and lonely. If they would just…. But that never takes the pain away. We can be alone and be okay. We can be in a crowded room and be intensely lonely. It is a journey.

Here are the seven stages of loneliness I have come to understand.  It will take a few blogs to get them all in. Like grief the stages are not rigid, it is a process.

Parts of Loneliness

  1. Feeling lonely. This stage demands we acknowledge it and then feel it. We can’t out run it, it is inside of us. Its pain can drive us to do things we would not otherwise do such as: alcohol/drugs; promiscuous; travel (run); become bitter/angry; divorce; isolate self; never be alone; abuse; and the list goes on. The ultimate running away is suicide. Suicidal thoughts are not unusual when feeling loneliness or on the healing journey. Please never act on them and get help immediately. There is hope!

 

Reminder: Breaking Free from Trauma Class. Every third Thursday in Muskegon.  Also Live-Streamed.

SPIRITUAL LONELINESS

Spiritual Loneliness: The Ultimate Loneliness

The ultimate loneliness is a deep core spiritual loneliness for God. Some people tell me, I don’t believe in God, I don’t need Him.  He wasn’t there for me when I was being hurt. The reality is – there is a God. God loves you beyond what you can ever imagine. God wants to help you heal. God cries with us and we are told He even collects our tears. Whether you believe in God or not, God is always with you. You can’t get rid of Him/Her. All healing happens with God whether we know it or not.

One of the strongest areas of loneliness is missing God. We even have a physical spot in the upper abdomen, solar plexus, which is considered the spiritual area in our bodies. When we are lonely, that spot often feels like an emptiness, a gnawing deep inside of us that never goes away causing a deep dark depression and desperation. It may even feel like a never ending hunger and we try to fill it with food! Or we may go to the doctors thinking we have physical problems. This type of hunger can only be filled spiritually. Please understand that it may be a physical problem so see you doctor. And it may be a spiritual emptiness that nothing physical can fix.

I believe we are spiritual being, having a human experience in a very intense, difficult lifelong school. We are here to grow and learn how to love and be loved no matter what happens to us. It is hard and we have to work to transcend and go above and beyond not just endure and get through what life throws at us. For me, I need God to help me graduate with honors.

Whether we decide to be connected to God or not, we have been created to be in a relationship with God. We are not complete or whole without developing our spirituality.  Without being connected there will be the existential loneliness or depression constantly in our lives.

So what do we do if there has been no connection to God? To start, take time  to meditate, walk in the woods and ask God to let you know He/She is there.  Nature has a wonderful essences of love and lifts us through biological and chemical process just by being in  it. It is a choice! Choose to be open to developing and learning about your spirituality.  Everyone has a spiritual part, everyone.

 

Breaking Free from Trauma class is live streamed on Facebook. Come join us! Every Thursday at 6:30 PM at 1560 Leonard in Muskegon MI. Under Donna LaMar.

BITTERNESS – HOW DO I COPE?

When we are bitter, it affects our all our lives – thinking, feeling, speaking, behavior, and all our relationships. This is because of the pain and hurt inside of us. Sometimes we will even feel it in our physical bodies and the physical pain lodged from trauma can be intense. Please know, we have to go to doctors and have be examined and make sure something is not wrong.

When we have been so hurt for so long we may not even remember how feeling good feels like. We may just know the bitterness, anger/rage, hurt, fear, jealousy, sorrow and loss.  We may have many ways to cope with it, some healthy and some not so healthy trying to settle and stop the turbulence and battle down inside of us.

Here are some NOT healthy techniques;

  1. Ignoring my feelings – feeling literally grow stronger inside of us if we do not feel our feeling appropriately. (See below).
  2. Bitterness grieves even our spirit – ignoring God and our religion hurts us even more
  3. Substance abuse (any kind) – a drug is a drug is a drug that include alcohol. It doesn’t not matter how we get the drug in our system they all damage us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
  4. Food – either over or under eating can help comfort us but may hurt our bodies.
  5. Any kind of addictions – food, exercise, shopping, stealing, work, etc.

Note: an addition is a repeated behavior we use to help us deal with pain that creates a chemical change in our bodies. We often get an Adrenalin rush from most addictions.

  1. Hurting yourself – cutting, hitting, burning, sexting, etc. This often gives us a high and reduces the emotional pain inside of us. Surprising isn’t it?
  2. Emotionally putting yourself down – we can be our own worst critic and even punish ourselves for any misbehaving as we perceive it.
  3. Staying in abusive relationships
  4. Yelling or hitting others – includes our children
  5. And the list goes on….

Here are some healthy ways to deal with feelings.

  1. Feel the feelings fully and appropriately. This is so important! Appropriately means to follow these three rules: (1) Can’t hurt myself, (2) Can’t hurt something alive – plants, animals or people; (3) Can’t damage property I don’t want to damage. Children get – you can’t damage property.

These HAVE to be followed. Following them we can do many things to release the feeling from inside of us.  We can cry, write, journal, draw, sculpture, etc.

Let’s talk about anger. Anger often gets us into a lot of trouble and we need a safe way to release its physical energy as well as the Adrenalin that comes with it.  Following the three rules, we can beat a pillow, mattress, punching bag (stuffed duffel bags are great); yell/scream (if you don’t want anyone to hear your, fill your sink with water and then scream in the water …or swim and do it; twist a towel real hard or have someone hold an end of a sheet and twist; yell/scream; slam doors (not refrigerator or glass doors – good strong ones); etc.  Again following the three rules we can release any feeling safely without hurting ourselves or someone else.

Note: If you were abused and have a fear of hurting someone when you are angry, always do your anger work by yourself when no one is around. Know also you may be afraid of anger because of what you experienced.

  1. Get into counseling or psychotherapy and stay there until you find more of you, have less intense painful feelings, gained insight and wisdom and life has gotten better.
  2. Talk with trusted friends about how you feel
  3. Pray and spend time with God.
  4. Attend religious services
  5. Find your passion and purpose. That often involves using what has happened to us in a way that makes a difference in the world.
  6. Start thanking God for everything in your life – the good, bad and ugly. This helps the brain physically shift old patterns of thinking to more positive ones.
  7. Develop the skill of forgiveness, forgive often.
  8. Forgive and pray for those who hurt you. This is a process and takes time. I usually does not happen overnight. The more we heal, the more we can forgive. The more I heal, the more I forgive, the freer I become.
  9. Exercise, but not to the extent it becomes excessive and abusive to you

These are only some of the way to cope, I am sure you can think of many more. We usually have to try different ways to find the ways that work best for us. People seem to have favorite ways to release them appropriately.

Feel free to contact me.

Blessings

 

BITTERNESS – THE HURT

Bitterness comes from pain, agony, hurt, sorrow, shame, etc. that we turn it into anger that comes from being traumatized. I am going to share my journey of dealing with bitterness from my journals during a very traumatic time my life when people I trusted betrayed, persecuted and mentally/emotionally attacked me over a long period of time. Maybe some of you can relate. I would value any thoughts and feelings you have about what it has been like for you.

The Hurt of Bitterness:

“I have and am struggling with bitterness…I didn’t recognize it as bitterness but saw it as anger, hurt, depression and criticalness. I feel they (those people out there) deserved my bitterness, yet they don’t.”

“I have been hurt by so many people in my life so many times, not just now ….. so many that it has created deep wounds in me. Deep, deep wounds. They are like the fjords of Norway in my soul (Norwegian ‘grand canyons’) and are still ripping into me deeper and deeper.

“The hurt with all its agony and anguish is almost not describable. The book called ‘The Dark Night of the Soul’ are the only words that come close. I am dripping in blood – black, deep red blood. I’m dripping in it, standing in it and it doesn’t stop. It keeps bleeding and bleeding and bleeding. The pain never stops. It has shredded my soul and only God can knit me back together.”

“I keep trying to stand up, but I bleed more and hurt beyond what words can express. My enemies hit hard then harder. I reel. I stand again and their tail hits hard and I am down again.  I want so much to stand and to keep going, keep working. I do, but limitedly. Sometimes it allows me to stand and take a few steps, but only for a short time. Because the tail hits again and again and I go down again.

“I finally get so I can stand, but there is no energy and little hope. How do I keep going? How? I have little hope and nothing left. They took everything, everything – my home, animals, work, and safety. I am in touch with my anger and the deep grief that has built up over and from decades of being hurt other times, but nothing like this. When I sleep there are nightmares. I watch endless TV trying to get tired enough and zoned out enough to just pass out on my bed and maybe not have nightmares. Better yet, to pass out on my couch downstairs, I don’t have nightmares there.

“I am so tired, a shower is exhausting, and putting a spoonful of food to my mouth is more that I can do, I have no energy. When I do eat, it is something I just grab that takes no effort. Soup is too much work.

“I don’t want to feel this vile stuff. I want it gone, but it doesn’t leave. It is my constant companion. I use the techniques I know – cognitive, behavioral, prayer and it helps for a while. I have to keep at it or it builds and builds and wants to become anger which wants to obliterate everything like a burst dam. My confidence is zero, but I can’t let people know. I have to pretend. Gratefully, my work with my clients stays free of the pain and I can still make a difference in their lives. This is God’s gift through all this.

“I watch for good things, loving things and caring friends. As a friend said to me, ‘We are loving you through this.’ I try to keep focused on them, but the hatred and anger that keeps coming at me from them overwhelms me and I have to find a way to keep going, have to. My trust with people is so low, so I struggle even with friends. I have to find a way to cope with all the pain and take the next step and keep going somehow….so I am turning bitter because I have no other way to deal with all the pain and, anger. It seems to have won for right now. I don’t know how else to deal with all this black, vile grief.

 

FORGIVENESS – SO IMPORTANT

Forgiveness, we have to do it, no getting around it if we want to heal. Just what is forgiveness? There is a lot of misinformation about it so here is what I have learned from my many years working with people and helping them heal and grow.

Lately, I have had a traumatic situation come up that keeps coming up and coming up. I have been struggling to feel it and forgive it. I know it is the only way to get through this without turning bitter. It is my decision to not be bitter, they, with all their acting out towards me, can’t make me bitter. They don’t have that power.

The forgiveness I am talking about today is for forgiving trauma, when we have been abused, neglected or traumatized in some way. i am not talkign about our special relationships when something happens, we forgive and the relationship grows and keeps developing. What I am talking about is forgiveness for trauma.

In trauma, it is very important that we forgive them and ourselves or we can’t heal and grow. We will remain stuck and will stay in pain.

FORGIVENES IS A DEEP SPIRITUAL LETTING GO OF THE PAIN AND HURT THAT WAS CAUSED BY SOMEONE ELSE OR OURSELVES. Yes, we have to forgive ourselves too, sometime that is the hardest things to do.

So here is what forgiveness is:

  1. Forgiveness is NOT saying what they did was okay; it will always be wrong and hurtful.
  2. It is not saying I no longer hurt and it does not still cause me pain.
  3. Forgiveness is not saying “I forgive you and now everything is okay between us. Let’s stay together and be friends.”
  4. When there is trauma and the other person has not changed, we have to take care of ourselves and protect ourselves. This may mean separating ourselves from them.
  5. Forgiveness is not revenge. Vengeance is God’s to do, not ours. Vengeance is triggered from the anger we feel about what happened to us. The feeling under the anger is hurt, pain and sorrow. The anger helps us cope with the hurt so we don’t have to feel it. Sometimes we have the belief that getting vengeance will take away our pain and we will feel better, it doesn’t happen that way.
  6. Going after vengeance will keep us from healing
  7. To forgive, we have to feel our feeling fully. There is no other way, unless God does a miracle healing, I don’t usually see that in my business. When it does happen, I celebrate. Usually we have things to learn and wisdom to earn and that takes time.
  8. Forgiveness takes time. As we are on our healing journey, we forgive some in the beginning then as we continue, we forgive more. As we heal in a deeper way, forgiveness happens in a deeper way.
  9. Forgiveness is for US! It is wonderful when it can happen with the other person, but I find that is not as often as I’d like to see. That is sad. Forgiveness is for us to help heal the pain the trauma has caused. It is also to teach us how to bring peace in our world.
  10. Please remember, when we don’t heal and forgive, the pain from trauma we feel is stored in our bodies physically and it stays there hurting us emotionally and physically until we feel it, deal with it and forgive the other person. If it stays inside, it will hurt our bodies.
  11. Forgiveness says, “I forgive you for what you did, and forgive me for how I have hurt other people from my pain. I release you into God’s hands to have the consequences of your actions.” As long as I am not forgiving I am stopping me from healing and keeping the other person from getting their consequences to what they did.
  12. Sometimes the hurt is so great, I struggle to forgive. I want to heal and know to heal I have to forgive. When I can’t forgive, I ask God to please forgive them and/or me, through me because it am so wanting the freedom and healing that comes from it. Sometimes I am so locked in the pain I can’t release or can’t even say the words, “I forgive you.”

One last note for today. I believe in God and His amazing love. He forgives all of us from everything when we ask. When I have struggled to forgive me for what I may have said or done or not said or done, I remember that He the creator has forgiven me, who am I not to forgive me?

Blessings to each one of you who is on the journey of healing.

 

Trauma isn’t something that happens and is over. It stays in our bodies until we deal with its pain and consequences. First lets look at trauma. So what is trauma? Here is some information we now know about trauma and its effects on our entire body – mind, body, spirit, emotions, etc.

TRAUMA {APA}  IS “…THE EMOTIONAL RESPONSE TO AN EXTREMELY NEGATIVE EVENT WHICH INTERFERES WITH THE ABILITY TO LIVE A NORMAL LIFE+ AND MAY CAUSE PHYSICAL CHANGES WHICH EFFECTS OUR ENTIRE FUNCTIONING.

Here are some of the causes of trauma:

ABUSE/NEGLECT                         SURGERY                            JAIL or PRISON

WAR                                                   DEATHS

HUMAN TRAFFICKING                SEVERE ILLNESS/INJURIES

ACCIDENTS                                    NATURAL DISASTERS

VIOLENCE                                        BULLYING

RAPE                                                  WITNESS ACT OF VIOLENCE

POWERLESS                                   HOPELESS

DIVORCE                                          ADOPTION 

 Trauma may be a one time, multiple, or long-lasting repetitive event(s). These events affect everyone differently. Some people may appear to be more resilient than others and not seem to be affected, however trauma always affects us always. “Impact can be subtle, insidious, or outright destructive…factors that affect it are the person, the event, developmental process, resources of the person, family, ability to cope, community at large, meaning of trauma and sociocultural factors. How we cope may not be psychopathological (emotional problems/behaviors) but look like it. It is  just coping. {Trauma informed care (TIC)}

Initial reactions can include exhaustion, confusion, sadness, anxiety, agitation, numbness, anger, withdrawal, dissociation, physical arousal, self-limited, eating and sleeping problems, etc. We then have to keep adapting and other coping behaviors will be created. Trauma affects all parts of us. Example, childhood trauma is biggest predictor of heart problems.

Our brain works hard to help us cope and keep going. “The human brain is continually sensing, processing, storing, perceiving and acting in response to information from the external and internal environments….especially sensitive to input that may indicate threat.” (Bruce Perry) Our entire being is always working to get to homeostasis/equilibrium or resting calmer place inside of us. Often we will use anything to get there including relationships, eating, substance abuse, and the list goes on.

Physiological Responses of the Brain

When there is trauma, brain is stressed and works to adapt – in anyway it can – functional and dysfunctional. The brain’s job is to sense, process, store, perceive and act on information from external and internal world to keep us alive.” It must work to regulated everything and bring it back to normal or homeostasis. Stress disrupts it.  “Stress is any challenge or condition which forces our regulating physiological and neurophysiologic systems to move outside of their normal dynamic activity. Traumatic events are extreme forms of stress.” B. Perry.

Stress/Trauma can vary on a continuum line from:

UNPREDICTABILITY    TO   PREDICTABILITY

MODERATE/SERVE     TO   MILD/MODERATE

VULNERABILITY          TO   RESILIENT

Homework:

Please, if you or someone you know have experienced trauma look at yourself and your behaviors, what helps you cope? Keep going? Sometimes asking a asking a friend (you trust) for their input helps us understand us better. Make a list and talk about with someone you trust if you can.

TRAUMA HEALING PROCESS

The healing from trauma process is intense and takes time. It takes a determined, strong commitment to ourselves that says we will get whatever help we need and do whatever it takes to heal. Usually we make that decision when we cannot and do not want to live with the pain and the way we are living any more. The pain includes intense emotions such as anger, fear/anxiety, sadness, etc. which cause anxiety/panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares, and the list of feelings goes on.

Because of all these feelings that are inside of us, we create coping defenses or behaviors that help us cope with and help keep these feelings under control. Some of these behavior include using alcohol and other drugs, anger at everyone, becoming bitter, over eating, under eating, depression and anxiety (as our primary feelings), poor relationships, isolation, harming oneself, withdrawal, confusion, problems concentrating (may look like ADD/ADHD), mood swings (may look bipolar), guilt, shame, hopelessness, helplessness, not living up to our potential and the list goes on.

We may be seen as the “black sheep” or “scapegoat” in the family and so family members avoids us, won’t talk to us and blame us for everything. This usually includes what is wrong in their lives, even if we don’t’ even see them. Sometimes, gratefully, family and friends surround the victim of trauma and help them heal. Sadly, I don’t often see this in my office, I wish I did.

Here is a description from a trauma survivor working through some of the healing the process he was experiencing:
“I am desperately working to hang on to me, to God and to friends. It is harder and harder now as I deal with more of the painful feelings. I sometimes don’t know what day it is and what I am supposed to do. Thank goodness I have my schedule. I do what it says to do. I keep going because I am sick and tired of hurting myself and being in so much pain. Sometimes I just want to give up. But I am determined to find me…me whoever that is. I know there is a real me, a good me, a me not in pain all the time.”