A journal of healing

Archive for the ‘sex’ Category

Trauma induced Obesity…. Really? No Sh*t!

rain clouds'

I actually wrote a whole different blog last night. I decided to sit on and not publish. In the morning, I reread and tweaked it and thought I would send it out anyways later. But in going over my emails, I found this email from a friend and therapist who sent me a blog article. I did not get to read it until later in the day. I had taken a break from work and decided to read through. I sat there at my desk crying.  Fortunately no one was around much. I have a heater fan running so hopefully no one heard me sniffling. I stopped and mopped my face up and decided when I got home to reread the blog and then write. Oh…. I was going to write.

I spent time tonight working on house stuff, laundry and the sorts and just sat down a little while ago to read the blog again. I was actually not thrilled about facing it again. I then went to the site and looked at some of the older posts. It took my breath away. It is so overwhelming to the point it knocked me out of writing what I wanted to. I am just ….and I am not sure the right word is that I am. I am mad because there is so much statistical information out there on trauma induced illness and yet it is so unknown by practicing clinicians. I had written about the ACE study before in my blog. If you have not done an ACE study, do so. And then read the implications. It is enlightening.

http://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/

But now as the night has progressed and I spent it reading instead of writing, I am going to let the blog speak for itself. It is quite a collection of information. I am going to share the one line that made me cry. And it is terrible. The author is sharing the story of how the doctor who was working in creating an obesity clinic was upset because he was not successful. He went on to dig into many of the (obese) patients’ history and found a resounding amount of them had some form of childhood trauma. That is not what made me cry….it made me slap my head and say out loud, “Really? No shit!” This is right from the Dr.’s story after he had given his results to a body of educated physicians and clinicians.

So, if you were Vincent Felitti, whom would you pick as your first audience to reveal your stunning findings? A group relatively informed about obesity that would greet the new information with extreme interest, praise and applause? Natch. So, in 1990, Felitti flew to Atlanta to give a speech to the members – many of them psychologists and psychiatrists — of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. The audience listened quietly and politely. When he finished, one of the experts stood up and blasted him. “He told me I was naïve to believe my patients, that it was commonly understood by those more familiar with such matters that these patient statements were fabrications to provide a cover explanation for failed lives!”   http://acestoohigh.com/2012/10/03/the-adverse-childhood-experiences-study-the-largest-most-important-public-health-study-you-never-heard-of-began-in-an-obesity-clinic/

……..A fabrication to cover FAILED Lives?   Oh man did that stick in my craw. Truthfully it makes me furious. So again, because someone is obese (and I hate that word with a passion) the presumption is that (1) they lie and (2) their life is a failure. If you think this is an exaggeration, you are not in the world of being overweight. The reason I was crying is because it happens a lot. To read someone with such credibility admit this was overwhelming to me. It is pervasive in the medical field and I face it every day at my job. That is exactly what people, doctors and other clinicians have projected to me. I have heard other large people tell about me about their discrimination. A person I know just died because they refused to give her a liver transplant because she was overweight. Prime personal example: years ago, I had gone to have some work done up to find out why my a1c had spiked. I had the Chief of the Endocrinology department tell me I was a waste of time, that I would never be able to lose weight or exercise like HE did and so he was going to march me down to bariatric surgery immediately and get me fixed. (I have to breathe deeply every time I think of this) He never looked at my chart. If he had he would have seen my blood sugar had spiked in three months after a life time of low to normal readings. It took me having to read and discover that the prednisone and other drugs they slammed me on for the PsA all raised blood glucose. AND when I went off, it came back down. I went to see a nephrologist after one of my kidneys failed. Again, he never discussed anything but the fact that I was overweight and he wanted to bet me, BET me, that I would NOT be able to lose weight. I think he thought he was challenging me. Again, no one ever told me for a year my right kidney had failed…first concern…and that I had developed stones and they were a by-product of the PsA…it took me eight years to find that out and I should have been medicated then, eight years ago, to reduce the creation of more…which happened. No one can see past the weight. I am a non-person.

That last statement about being a non-person is very telling. I am going to stop tonight and let it just sit out there. I hope you will skim through the blog article: http://acestoohigh.com/2012/10/03/the-adverse-childhood-experiences-study-the-largest-most-important-public-health-study-you-never-heard-of-began-in-an-obesity-clinic/

 

 

 

 

Righteous indignation

I have been reading some new blogs. I am impressed with all the people who participate in writing as a form of expression of themselves. I actually started writing as part of my therapy. It has helped a lot. But I am disheartened by the content of so many blogs that I read. They are so many hurt people in this world. My vulnerability is showing and I do not care what people think of that. I have in my soul a place that feels deeply for so many. Maybe it is the Christmas music playing. Maybe it is because it is Charitable Tuesday. Something is weighing on me. This time of year brings out the good and wondrous, but also misery seems to increase. Maybe it is because we want the good at this time of year, the bad seems more heinous.

I like Christmas but I do not like all the commercialism. We have an event here called Roc the Day. It is when there is an all-out campaign to hit people up for money in the county. It is competitive by organization and it is very popular. Our organization had three entrees on the website for donations. I gave to one, but I also give at other times. The thing that bothered me was I overheard our foundation person talking to someone about how successful this is because of Christmas. People are more generous now and so they created this huge marketing plan in an attempt to get more donations. It works. But I do not like the idea of playing people.

And this led me down my path of righteous indignation tonight, especially after reading some blogs. What makes adults play on children, or should I say prey on them. What in the world creates lechery? Why would someone intentionally kill the spirit of a child for their own pleasure? I think part of why I struggle with this is because of my own experience. I will never understand why things occurred in my life; at least not while I am still in this plane of existence. I think it will be clear someday. I hold on to that as a concession. But tonight, it is overwhelming.

We accept that soldiers of war suffer from PTSD. But talking about childhood trauma and sexual abuse is still taboo. PTSD is not talked about or widely known as a medical condition for non-combat women. I think, and this is my personal theory, that it is because it is taken upon by the victim as a badge of shame. That they (we) feel they deserve what happened, or there is something so wrong or broken with them,(us), that they,(me), have a hard time sharing it or even talking about it. I know I do not speak of my childhood experiences with just anyone. And for the most part, I cannot articulate my experiences unless I write. I cannot speak about it. That is why I have such a feeling of companionship from the blogs.

Tonight I read about some pretty sad situations. This is not judgment, it is their story and to say it is anything but that it was sad would be not real. Even though the people have made a success out of their lives, at what cost? I think what potential was lost. I think of that often for myself. What could I have done with my life if I had not escaped by marrying the wrong person at such a young age? What could have become of my children if I had become a mother by marrying someone else? What-if? So many what-ifs? And the answer is “live for today.” Well, in reality, there is no other choice.

But back to my righteous indignation. Why is sexual abuse and child abuse not going way? I do not get this at all. I see parents walking kids to school for fear of them being abducted, yet they have no idea Uncle Ernie is playing “Hide the weenie” with their daughter. They turn a blind eye when their spouse crosses the line or a sibling playing house takes it too far. And why do we punish the victim and not the perpetrator? I know there are answers but why is this still an issue? It needs to stop.

But the thing that is sticking in my craw more tonight is why can’t we fix the adult that has had things happen to them? Why is there no big campaign to raise funds to help women (and men) who suffer from PTSD from childhood abuse? Why is this so difficult to heal from? I read how the past inflictions have made a living hell for so many. They suffer from chronic illnesses, fear and many are unable to work or function in the world as it is. They had the where-for-all to create a little pill to make a man get a stiffy. Really? We can’t fix the thousands of zombie-like adults who traverse this world? We cannot find some way to heal them to live their full potential, with our fear and shame?

I do not find this acceptable. I am angry and want to do something beneficial to change this situation, to help people heal, and become whole. I am so full of regret tonight that I am sitting here crying. I want to have another chance at this. I want to be twenty and able to go to college and train as a psychologist or therapist of some kind. But I am forty years past that and so I must find another way. I really feel I am wasting my existence more now than when I was younger.

My husband and I were talking about Christmas presents tonight. He is upset because I truly have nothing I want as a gift. But there is something I want and that is to find the purpose to my life. I am not sure how this post tonight got to this point, but I let my fingers do the talking. So what started out to be a post to bolster acceptance and power has left me feeling useless and in tears. So I am stopping writing for tonight. That is the first step. I do not need to beat myself up anymore.

Disconnection of the body

Buffalo

Tonight I am inspired by a friend’s blog. Please check it out at MY BODY…. She speaks for so many of us. It is funny because sometimes blog ideas come to me in the weirdest ways. I was going to write about something else but this is very relevant and so I am going there. “There” is what it is like being large and what it feels like to be disconnected to our body and what that means. For many survivors of sexual abuse, the only way we can deal with ourselves is to not associate with our bodies, because then we are connected to the trauma. In other words, if I do not feel the trauma, it may not be real.

I know many people who have survived sexual trauma go through a stage of did it really happen? That is what happened to me. The memory was not in place; only fragments which came to me in jagged flashbacks. One was on my first wedding night. I had no sense of the past situation in reality. I did not remember the physical confrontation. Matter of fact, much was not clear enough for me to even know if it was real. And truth be told, I am still not sure. And if you were to survey many of us, you would find that doubt is quite common. But then who would make up this shit? But too much makes sense. As I went through therapy two years ago, I started to put pieces together. And then one night I remembered the physical feeling. I remembered too much. I could smell things. Blurry images became clear. I am not sure now if it was such a good thing to relive as I was alone when it came back and I am positive I retraumatized myself. I had not learned any coping mechanisms, yet.

I do not want to focus on that. What I do want to talk about is disconnection and the impact of not loving our bodies. It is not a simple cognitive function. One who has had physical trauma, especially one based in shame like abuse, does not go “Snap, I am past this.” It can be and often is a life sentence. And why?

These are my theories: I am in firm belief that we ALL hold some form of shame when dealing with fat. It is that basic. Our society likens carrying fat as being the ultimate disgrace. Parents, teachers and other forms of early authority in our lives make sure the larger child knows that they have failed just by being fat. Nothing surpasses that. And I think that it all comes back around to the same thing; they are ashamed for us and of us. They are ashamed of our fatness. So no matter what happens we never can or will ever measure up. I think that we wear our weight as a scarlet letter because we think we deserve to be fat. I am not convinced it has totally to do with what is consumed. I think it has to do with release or not being able to release the trauma. So the weight stays and we take the punishment for what we all think we did to cause our trauma. And if you dig deep enough, you will discover that often the victim feels they caused their situation. Why me….why was I the one, what did I do to deserve this? It is a tape running in our heads that few can ignore.

This is where it becomes interesting, and it is my theory. But I think my studies will hold up to a lot of what I am going to say. We as children do a couple things to survive. We over achieve because we have to prove that being fat is not who we are. And then, we disassociate with the cause of all our pain. We disconnect from our body.

So over achieving…. This is me. I always danced too hard. I would dance around people doing my “what can I do to please you because if I please you, you may like me and I do need to be accepted.” Dance. I danced it for years and I still do. But now I get pissed sooner. I danced it for my family, my mother and father and then for my ex. Silly thing is that all it did was make me vulnerable and more of a victim. But in my defense, I have four degrees, all Summa Cum Laude. I have three professional certifications, two teaching licenses and a plethora of awards and accolades. And I still feel insignificant. Very much so, especially where I work. The need to be the best and most was always so important to me. And this was my original topic for tonight. When do we stop caring so much what other people think about us? Do we ever stop? Does it matter? Really?

The answer is a big fat no. (((smile))) But I have not convinced myself of this, physically and only slightly mentally. The only thing that this type of stress will do for you is make you sick. If you want to do something, do it for yourself…..ah…..here comes the second part.

So doing something for yourself means you have to feel ….oh no….feel…not feel….anything but needing to feel. That is the issue. When you relate to trauma by disassociating, you cannot feel. And now it where it comes to the heart of the matter. Again, my theory, but the more I read the more I think that this is being substantiated.

Nonetheless, the medical model persists. It (arguably) functions fairly effectively with diseases like diabetes and cancer, where the doctor holds all of the knowledge and dictates the necessary interventions for a sick patient. This is not, however, a useful paradigm for trauma healing. Rather than being a disease in the classical sense, trauma is instead a profound experience of “dis-ease” or “dis-order.”

Levine PhD, Peter A. (2012-10-30). In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness (p. 34). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

You can talk your way through trauma with all sorts of processes and mind games. But it is a big waste of time. Thinking is not going to help. Feeling is. If you feel what? I have written before about feeling safe. This is what is needed to heal. You must be in a safe environment. There can be no predators; you must have comfort and no fear. If you do not feel safe, it is impossible to heal. Then, look at what society does to the large person. It is impossible to feel safe when people give you horrid judgmental looks for just existing. And why do they do that? Because you are fat. You don’t want to be fat, so you disassociate from your body. And if you disassociate, you do not feel. And if you do not feel, how can you know if you are safe. Round and a round.

Here is another explanation. I have always been big. Shapely, but most standards, larger than my peers…except my one dear girlfriend who was 6 feet tall by 6th grade. Funny, she could have modeled as she was gorgeous and well developed. But instead, her life dissolved into depression and self-loathing and at 41 she killed herself. (I am so angry about this, btw) I never thought about my body stopping me from sports and so I did them. It never stopped me from anything actually because there was nothing wrong with me. I wanted to dance, so I took dance classes in college and got straight A’s. What I saw in the mirror was not, I guess, what other’s saw. I saw nothing. And the reason was I had disassociated from my body many years before, possibly as an infant but definitely as a young child. The pain and shame about my body came from my family, especially from my mother who was totally disgusted by me. She never held back. I think back and truly I feel so sorry for her angst and shame about me, because she missed such a great opportunity to love me. She made only one comment about her remorse when she was actually on her deathbed and that is why I feel sorry for her. But when I was with friends it was not important. Many of my friends when they make a harsh comment about someone being fat and I corrected them, they would say, “oh we do not think of you as being fat.”

I did not feel. Without going into depth, I did not feel much of anything and had lived that way for so long that when I did feel something, I had to either get drunk or high. Now, there is no denying that drinking massive amounts of alcohol led me to put on significant weight. But I never felt it.

Then, because of the therapy, I began to feel. I equate it to this story. There is a Lakota Chief sitting on hill with a white man. The white man asks the Chief what he is gawking at and the Chief replies, a buffalo. The white man sees nothing in the field except grass everywhere. There is no buffalo. But they continue to sit in quiet for a long time. Finally the white man cannot contain himself and asks the chief again. He turns to look at the chief who smiles and points again to the field. As the white man gazes back at the field, he suddenly is aware of the buffalo that must have been there the whole time. The white man is amazed. The Chief does not turn towards the white man, but just says in a calm manner, “The buffalo allowed you to see him.”

(paraphrased from Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn)

When we disassociate with our bodies, we do not see what others do. And then when they make comments, it is hurtful. There is no way anyone can make a comment about weight to a large person without judgment and not inflict shame. I do not care what the intent. You would never go up to someone who has lost their hair and tell them they should buy a wig. At least I hope you wouldn’t. But few hold back about giving advice on how to lose weight. It is like saying, you are not acceptable as you are and this is what you should do. So if we disassociate with our body, it is not hiding, it is survival. If you are perfect, you would not understand how painful this is. AND…it perpetuates the feeling of not being good enough and then without meaning to be, you become a victim all over again. If you do sooth by eating, no one should point a finger. We all have some form of self soothing like TV, Booze, cigarettes and sex. Guess what, running and excessive exercise can also be a form of self soothing. But we would never say to someone who is addicted to running, geeze, you really need to withhold doing that. We never say to someone who is so gaunt from dieting how emaciated they look, how pale, and boney. We say, “oh, have you lost weight, you clever thing?”

This is getting quite long. I am in the process of reading… I am always reading….more about the physical connection to trauma and healing. I am on a quest, a seeker of sorts, for finding different methodologies of healing. I am totally convinced that it has to be somatic healing. Body and mind and spirit. For my fellow bloggers who have connected, I hope that you will share and keep sharing your thoughts on this.

But for tonight, for Pat especially, give yourself a break. And then give yourself a big hug. We need to get back in touch (no pun intended) to the physical self and not loath it. I know that is very hard as I have my own super big issue (no pun again) about accepting my body, especially now with the horrible Psoriatic Arthritis flaring. But I am also convinced that those two things are connected. I just need to relax and get back to healing exercises. (and not exercises in puff n grunt manner) I need to focus and work on my healing modalities that have worked in the past.

And in offering of hope, I think that this is the key to weight loss. The release…. All in the release. I am still too strung up about things in my life. I am bull rider when it comes to stress. I hop on and allow it to toss me freely inflicting havoc on everything. But I will explain more in future blogs.

bull rider

Sharing dirty little secrets

The following blog  SEX is written by an extremely brave and courageous woman. It is hard to comprehend how she feels unless you have been there. I can imagine how much spirit it took to write this and even more strength to share it. The issue is not the event. It is not the past. It is the present moment and the reaction one has to various stimulus NOW. You cannot erase what happened and so any therapy that makes a person relive the trauma or go over the details of their past are often only re-traumatizing the client or patient. A good therapist gives the patient tools do deal with their trauma and their feelings and reactions in the present moment.
Pat writes about how she interprets sexual feelings now. She knows that any sexual advancement made by an adult to her is taken poorly; she does not enjoy it. She transfers sexual feelings to touch with her own son. Of course she does. It is safe. He is safe to her. She feels it is wrong, and it would be wrong if she were to follow through, which I am sure she didn’t. She loves her son. The problem is that she has attached so much garbage to any intimate relationship that when she feels the physical touch and closeness of a hug from her son, it triggers a response she deems inappropriate. But how would she not when the time and place in her life when she first had sexual relations was when she was a child. There was safety in the body, the smallness of her son. It has nothing to do with intercourse. It was about the intimacy she craves and the safe sensation of being touched by someone who does not want anything from her. THIS is how the cycle of sexual abuse CAN be continued, but Pat knows this is taboo. Instead, she carries so much shame with her. That is the gift that keeps on giving. (sarcasm)
My life is very similar in the sense that I do not like to be touched by anyone. It is extremely difficult for me to relax in any type of physically intimate relationship. My father deemed all women sluts and dirt. The only woman he did not have a comment about was my mother. Their relationship was the strangest growing up. They were never demonstrative. My mother and father never hugged or even sat close. The only kiss I ever saw them give each other was her on his bald head. But I discovered later why she was so Victorian in her manner about sex. My father used to berate me from the time I had boobs that I was a whore, which is incredibly funny since I was anything but promiscuous. There was no healthy sex education growing up in the 50’s and 60’s in white suburbia. Sex was naught and dirty and only “hoods” did that sort of thing.
To be safe and actually unbeknownst to me at the time, the “boyfriends” I had in high school were all gay. They were not out back then, but they were into the arts and gentle young men. I never pushed the issue of sex, and they did not either so it was safe. My best girlfriend was a toucher. She liked to tap on your hand or arm when she was talking to you. Finally one day she asked me why I pulled away every time. I just said I did not like to be touched and she was ok with it and was mindful.
My first sexual encounter as a young woman was disastrous. But I quickly learned that if I got drunk or high, I could relax enough. This became my pattern. My ex-husband was fine with it because I do not think it was ever about intimacy for him. Eventually, sex was the only thing I had to control in my life, so I withheld. He went quickly elsewhere. (Actually he was elsewhere before, during and after our marriage) When we first met, and I felt safe with him, I enjoyed walking hand in hand, cuddles and other intimate gentle touches. That soon turned to grabbing at me, dominating stances like having his arm on my shoulders and slapping my butt. The relationship deteriorated until it became sexually violent and that was when I pulled completely inside and put up the wall. For me, the wall was weight more than anything. I cannot say honestly that I did not want to have a sex and so I was a horrible flirt when out with the girls. But I never went through with anything. For me, it was the need to be desired more than anything.
My relationship with my now husband is platonic. It was established as such and remains. It works for the both of us.
The issue of touch is very touchy (ha ha) for me. The therapy I was in for two years was all touch therapy. It took three months for the therapist to be able to even begin therapy and touch me. The therapy is called Associative Awareness Technique. It is a system that used touch stimulus as part of the therapy in the form of different series of applications such as stroke, tap and pressure in very deliberate patterns and places. The concept is that it helps to deregulate the nervous system from going into flight fright or freeze when touched. It is much more than that and you can read about it here: http://www.rochesterptwellness.com/
As part of my healing process, I also took classes in Spiritual Healing Touch. I really enjoy applying touch therapy. As part of the class, you have to be the client and take turns. It was very hard for me but since I have taken a series of classes with the same girls I have gotten better at receiving. Sometimes it is amazing how I feel afterwards. There are certain partners that I am very comfortable with. I have to completely get out of my head when I am working on someone but because I am the one touching it works. One time they did a group healing on me and I have to say I was shaking I was so frightened. I was on the table and four ladies who I know well all were working on me at once. It was too much and I felt trapped.
The sensation of feeling trapped is very important and I am going to take a moment to explain. Sexual trauma or for that, all physical trauma is based on the premise of being in a situation beyond your control. Having your freedom in some manner removed is what triggers the fight, flight or freeze. You can run away, you can turn and fight for release or you can play dead and freeze, hoping the predatory will pass over you. Being trapped can sometimes not have to have another person physically confining you. You can be trapped mentally and it creates an even more profound sense of helplessness and defeat. This is often the case for people who are in a domestic violence situation. I will write more on this in later blogs. Do not judge, because those chains may be invisible, but trust me they exist.
For a young child, being in a violent home can feel like being trapped. You cannot tell anyone of your situation because that would excommunicate you from your source of survival. Children cannot see that there are alternatives and adult prey on them with that threat. “Tell someone and you will get sent to an orphanage.” “Tell someone and I will really get you the next time.” Children do not have the cognitive ability to see beyond their present moment and they have nothing to compare with.
I am still amazed that there are so many people out there who did not and cannot understand imperfect childhoods. I thought growing up with alcoholics was normal until I became old enough to visit other families whose parents did not get drunk. When and where I grew up, kids were on their own and invisible. Parents disappeared during sleep overs. I always thought they were doing what my folks did and that was sequestering themselves and getting drunk. Parents did not haul their kids everywhere. You walked or rode your bike. It was not until I was preteen that I saw a different structure in family life and once I did, I spent any moment I could out of my house and at my girlfriends. I never had a sleep over at my house. Only once did I have my friends at my house for my fifteenth birthday. My parents and I had moved into a three bedroom apartment and four of my girlfriends and I were in my bedroom listening to music. My father burst through the door, swearing about the “nigger music” we were listening to (it was a folk group) ripped the record off the turntable and smashed it. My friends left in a hurry. Forty years later two of my girlfriends and I got together for a reunion. I told them the whole story and they had no idea that that was what my home life was like. It was one of my dirty little secrets.