Life can be serious business.

A Book Release, A Re-Birthday and Why I Want to Celebrate and Hide at the Same Time.

Twenty years ago today, at the age of 14, I boarded a plane that carried me in to my new life. A safe life. A life I never expected to have the chance to experience. Today, I celebrate that life-changing event and the creation of tangible proof that shame and trauma no longer own me.

release photo

With the release of the Trigger Points Anthology today, I am a bit overcome with pride, grief, elation and a touch of fear. I’m reflecting on the past year working with Joyelle to create the anthology, and all the blood, sweat, tears and energy that went in to this. I’m thinking about this powerful tool that we and the writers have created, and the possibility that it can change lives. And honestly, I’m fighting the urge to crawl under my blankets and hide from all of it.

My desire for invisibility started on Monday night, after I met with a local arts group board members, in hopes that they will host a book signing for me. I knew I would have to speak, but I prepared nothing. I spoke off the cuff and actually did very well.

But here’s the thing, I have never said the words “I am a sexual abuse survivor” to anyone outside of my therapist and those I am close to. My voice cracked a bit but I would not let myself break eye contact with the people sitting around the table. I kept my composure and talked openly about my experiences as a parent survivor and the book. When I got home, I felt like a wet noodle. Every part of my being was exhausted. It’s amazing to me the energy it took to say those six little words out loud.

I can’t and I won’t hide though. I’m going to sit with my emotions today. I’m going to remind myself that I deserve to feel pride and that the fear I am experiencing is a result of the false beliefs I have carried with me for too long–I am not broken, I have a right to tell my story and there are others out there that need to hear it.

The other part of my frayed nerves is due to an essay I wrote, published today on Hasty Word’s blog for her Relationships are Hard series. It’s a letter to my daughter in regards to the struggles I face and the worries I have because I parent her with trauma on my back. It’s raw, it’s honest and it’s not easy to speak about, but necessary.

 

Trigger Points Meme

This is the beginning of a new chapter in my life, and my recovery. I have so much gratitude in my heart for those that have helped me get to this place; my co-editor Joyelle, my husband, my sister and my friends all allowed me the space to talk about something that isn’t always easy to hear, and then championed me through out this journey.

To them and my followers who have written so many inspirational and personal comments and messages to me… Cheers!

And to all the brave survivors out there working to create a healthy life for yourself and your children…you are my heroes.

The Trigger Points Anthology is now available through Amazon, in both paperback and Kindle versions. I hope that you will check it out, read the inspiring reviews and add it to your own library. If you would like to purchase a copy, click here!

 

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Life can be serious business.

A Book Cover Reveal and a High Five From the Universe.

We are kicking off the month long countdown to the release of the Trigger Points Anthology today with a cover reveal!! Isn’t it beautiful!

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I was trying to visually represent how motherhood had taken my whole self apart, re-arranged all the pieces and put them back together in a completely new and un-recognizable pattern. ~Joyelle Brandt

You can read what else Joyelle has to say about her process of creating the image, and what the anthology means to her here.

With one month to go before the book release, I’m sitting here with a slight case of perma-grin, and tears filling my eyes. The irony of being able to make November 18th the release date has me feeling a bit raw, but proud. November 18th, 1995 is the day I got on a plane and the abuse was finally over for me. I was 15 years old and had endured sexual abuse for the past eight years of my life. I came to a place two years ago when I started to see how that day was a birthday of sorts for me. Happy Re-Birthday to Me: A Sexual Abuse Survivor’s Coming Out Story is an essay I wrote two years ago about learning to let go of the shame, and moving on. It was also the first time I ever publically (and by publically I mean speaking outside of like three people) spoke/wrote about the abuse.

So to now have the anthology be released on that day 20 years later…I’m convinced it’s the universe high fiving me.

For me, this is more than a brilliant collection of words. It’s a seed. It’s a very personal introduction to a parenting topic that needs compassionate attention; a resource for a parent to grab a hold of when he or she is triggered in the throws of parenthood, and feel less alone. The anthology is a collective example of what it looks like when a child who is abused grows up, becomes a parent her/himself and learns how to tune in to triggers in order to heal and break the cycle of abuse.

If you want to learn more about the anthology and the awareness Joyelle, the writer’s and I are trying to raise on the topic of parenting as a survivor, you can visit our website at TriggerPointsAnthology.com.

We also have a supportive Facebook community that has quickly taught us how not alone we really are. Like our page and/or follow our blog to keep up to date on the release of anthology, and take part in this journey right along with us.

If you are interested in providing an honest review of the book or have questions or comments for the editors, please email us at triggerpointsanthology@gmail.com

~Dawn

 

 

Don't take life too serious.

We have a release date!

This is really happening, and I can’t begin to tell you how blessed I am feeling.

Trigger Points: Childhood Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting

Dawn and I are so excited to announce that we have a tentative release date set for November 18, 2015.

We are madly at work editing submissions right now, and will be moving on to layout in a few weeks. It’s crunch time!

So this will be a brief post and now it’s time to get back to it.

See you all soon with a finished anthology!

Joyelle and Dawn

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Life can be serious business.

A Mother Comes Undone.

falling apart

“Motherhood pushed open a door that I thought I had managed to close for the last time. I, like most I believe, thought that a baby would be placed in my arms and I would be filled with so much love that the pieces of my broken heart, pieces I worked so hard to glue back together, would finally solidify. I didn’t expect new cracks to form.”

This is an excerpt from a new post I have up today on the Trigger Points website. I hope you decide to head over and subscribe to follow along. Click here to read the full article.

Life can be serious business.

Raising A Girl As A Survivor.

I often find myself up against the effects of my childhood sexual abuse, not only as a woman, but now as a mother.

raising a girl

“Momma, Can I put on some make-up?”

I tell my daughter she is beautiful with out it, but “Sure honey, what’s the harm?”

Internally, I am struggling with ideas of beauty and sexuality and safety and how all of this will play out in her life. I can’t help but want to tell my daughter “No”, she can’t wear make-up; and in the years ahead of her, “No”, she can’t wear anything that sexualizes her in any way. I want to protect her as much as I can against catching the attention of a predator – even knowing that idea is a farce. Make-up and fashion statements have nothing to do with victimization. Predators don’t look for lipstick and short skirts. They look and wait for opportunity, usually within surroundings that are comfortable to a child.

At her age, I became a sexual object to some one. I know enough now to know, it had nothing to do with what I looked like, but more of the opportunity given to a man with a sick addiction and no self control. It’s not what the child looks like, but how vulnerable she is.

Does every woman grow hollow inside when she hears a man tell her daughter that she looks pretty? It shrinks me into a scared ten year-old little girl, now wondering if this man too, will do to me what other “good” men have done. Except, it’s not about me anymore. It’s about my daughter. It’s about the compulsive urge I have to protect her from ever being preyed upon, like I was.

I could be wrong. Perhaps the guy at the cook-out that complimented my daughter is of no harm. But when I got that kick of uneasiness in his presence, I paid attention. It doesn’t occur every time I or my daughter are around men. Only sometimes. So every time, I listen and know that whether the man involved is her best friend’s father, the town pastor, a friend’s brother or even someone related to her, I will never let her be in a position to be groomed by him.

I have to teach my daughter how to listen to and feel that sixth sense that we all have. The most effective tool she can possess is trusting herself. For now, we call it the “uh-oh” feeling. It’s an idea a school social worker taught me while interning at an elementary school. I connected with that “uh-oh” feeling because I recognized it. It’s what made me keep a secret for over eight years. I want my daughter to not be scared of that feeling like I was, but to pay attention to it and to react to it no matter what.

The most difficult part to all of this is when that uneasiness sets in at times I know are irrational, like when my husband helps our daughter with her shower or is having a playful game of tickle monster with her. I have to convince myself that in spite of what the literature and statistics say, I will never continue the cycle of abuse – as the victim or the abuser. I have to pull myself out of the hole these innocent events and ingrained thoughts push me in, and recognize the irrational fear.

After my failed search for stories on what it’s like to live and experience motherhood as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I was reminded how quiet survivors are. I know the role that shame has in keeping it that way, but a discussion on the effects of the abuse that resurface, or suddenly arise, when we become mothers is something we need to talk about. I feel like it’s vital to our ability to raise healthy girls ourselves.

***

“Momma, If a boy kisses you, does that mean he loves you?”

Perhaps the “everything happens for a reason” rhetoric finally makes sense to me now. I am able to see the damage that is done, when our daughters are told yes to this question. Love is more than a kiss, or any contact with her physical body. Teaching her to equate love with either, implies she is suppose to love, in the presence of the other. That doesn’t leave much room for choice.

“Baby, a boy kisses you because he chooses to kiss you, it doesn’t always mean he loves you. And a boy, or any one else, should never kiss you unless you want him to. If he does, I highly encourage you to punch him in the nose.”

***

(I am also the mother of a son and recognize the need and desire of mothers everywhere to keep their son’s safe; as well as, their daughters. This story is more in line with the effects of the abuse and raising my daughter. That doesn’t mean, I am concerned any less about my son or the numerous male survivors struggling with their own stories.)

**Originally featured on Scary Mommy.

Life can be serious business., Momma has lost her mind.

Take the Panic Out. A new voice for the new year.

 

Hey you. Yes you. Turn the other voices down so you can at least hear mine. I’m here to help you find some grace and defend your serotonin lacking beautiful brain today. I’m on your side I promise.

Your pacing is killing me though. Just sit down. Yes, I know this means one of the kids is going to notice you and probably want something from you, they’re kids what do u expect? Yes, I understand you feel broken today but your shattered pieces won’t cut them. They will actually help heal you if you can bring yourself to just hold them.

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It hurts.  I know.  The depletion of your self worth is temporary though.  Your baby girl feels the pain radiating from your heart and somehow is able to acknowledge your need for space.  Don’t deny her simple, deserving moments of your attention today.

No!  Do not eat another cookie. These are no doubt your most amazing peanut butter/chocolate combination of love; however, you’ve already put on 10lbs in the past few months.  If you don’t start using a bit more self control, what you stuff inside in hiding will start to show in plain view.  Your uniform of jeggings and baggy sweaters can only conceal so much.

Quit tearing yourself down.  You set the bar too high for yourself on a good day.  Today your just flirting with self sabotage.  Break out some crayons.  It won’t kill the little guy if he eats a few more and his sassy sister will be entertained in her own precious, pink and purple world of hello kitty.  Coloring makes for good conversation…even with these two crazy beings that combined have only graced this earth for 5 little years.

Cut your self some slack.  Commit to yourself that whether it is genuine joy you’re feeling or unexpected sadness, you will be authentic about the moment.  Shame is no longer holding your nerves hostage.  You shed that skin for the last time.  The Celexa is helping you to balance the end of that life…don’t fight it.

You’re getting there.  Just breathe.  Teach your daughter to breathe when frustration gets the best of her.  It will save her a lot of grief if she learns how not to implode over life’s minor screw ups early in life.  You’re doing the best you can and it’s better than expected…you know that.

It’s ok to cry.  Give in to the Disney channel, turn on the hottest shower you can stand and go have an ugly cry.  Detox your soul.  It will uplift you.

Now, quiet the noise and relax your skin.  Take the panic out of the moments and inhale the reality around you.  It’s ok.  You’re ok.

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