The Diesel has Started


Diesel engines do not like the cold.  They are not fans of the frozen tundra.  They like to be kept warm.  It’s in the warmth that they perform optimally.  In the cold, it takes extra time for the cylinders to turn over, to ignite the spark, to start and make the hallmark sound that is unique to The Diesel.

I may not be a powerful diesel engine.  But I have the potential to be.  I believe that like the diesel engine, I do not like being frozen.  The first moment in which my dad raped me, sodomized me, horrifically violated his very delicate trust with me… I was frozen.  Frozen in that moment.  My emotional core stuck.  My curious intellect insatiable.

As I acknowledged and have begun to accept that this terrible act is not only possible, but actually happened to me.  TO ME… I’ve tried to get going, to ignite the spark and turn over the cylinders.  I’ve attempted to reconcile my juvenile emotion with my adult intellect.  I’ve attempted to start up after decades being frozen.  Like the caterpillar emerging from his safe cocoon, ready to spread his wings, uncertain in their ability, afraid to fall… so have I begun to emerge.

I’m more than ready to test my wings.

I’m ready for the cylinders to turn and power this beautiful creation that is God’s and bestowed upon me.

The diesel has started my friends.

And it’s ready for the long haul.


Random Thoughts

For a child emotionally and sexually abused, how does he create joy from years of pain?  I believe it’s possible though very complicated and challenging.  But the central issue is… how would he know what joy is?

Is it possible for an emotionally and sexually abused child to have no lasting effects?  I don’t believe so.  The issue here… What does this child need afterwards?



Did you get a memo?

I didn’t get a memo. At least I don’t remember a memo.

It seems like everyone got a memo but me. Like they all know something I don’t.

I feel like I should have received a memo. I feel like there was some valuable information in it. Some information that I needed.

Everyone is holding me accountable for the content of this memo.

But I didn’t get it.

I didn’t read about it.

I can only speculate that it exists. I can only guess what it says.

Sometimes I feel like I guessed correctly.

Other times, the looks I get, like I’m an alien, I think I guessed incorrectly.

Is there a memo out there?




It made sense.

There is a memo. It’s not a piece of paper or an email. It’s not a song or a poem, a saying or quote.

It’s an internal memo. It’s supposed to be communicated by your earthly parents. They are ordained to show you, demonstrate to you, and sometimes actually say to you… the memo.

And if they don’t.

Then you’ll feel like an outsider.

Like I did, and have, and sometimes still do.

Like you don’t fit in, don’t belong.

The memo, you see, is quite simple. There are songs today on the radio that allude to the memo. Beautiful anthems that underscore what your parents, what MY parents were ordained to show me.

Christina Perri – I’m only human.
John Legend – All your perfect imperfections.

I am human. I will make mistakes. And I am a creation of God. I am perfectly imperfect.

That’s the memo.

Facebook Folly







Every now and then, there’s a Yahoo! article suggesting that too much time on Facebook can lead to mild depression.  The “studies” suggest that looking into someone else’s seemingly ‘happier than mine’ life can be a source, a trigger, for depression.  The illogical logic in the Facebook observer is supposed to go something like:

“oh, they’re doing more things with their family than I am, oh, they’re pictures look very happy, they must have a great life and mine sucks.  they’re doing so much better than me, i should try harder because i’m doing something wrong.  what’s wrong with me?”

Sound familiar?

If it doesn’t, then great, I believe you have figured out your internal boundary with Facebook and that’s a good thing.

If it does, keep reading, because I used to be in the same boat.

The problem isn’t that Facebook can trigger depression in the observer, the problem is why?  Why can it lead to self-deprecating thoughts and a question of “what’s wrong with me?”

I believe the why comes from unresolved childhood hurts.  As a sexual abuse survivor, I recognize that I can easily “go there” and irrationally believe that’s the root cause of all hurts, but that’s not what I’m suggesting.  I’m suggesting than any unresolved childhood hurt can be triggered at any time by anyone or anything.  Facebook fits that bill for those of us who weren’t empowered as children.  Who weren’t affirmed.  Who didn’t hear things like “I love you.  You’re exactly who you’re supposed to be.”  And all of the actions that follow suit like being heard when you’re physically or emotionally hurt, nurtured when you are hurt, and the like.  Hearing those things, experiencing those things as a child are life affirming.

See, I used to scroll through my feed and read everyone’s post, see everyone’s pictures, and receive invites to everyone’s game.  And I observed my feed at home.  Alone.  Lonely.

I wish I were doing those things, have family pictures like that, and where does everyone find time to play these games?!  Don’t they have stuff to do like I do?!?!

I used to think that.

Now I don’t.

I believe Facebook is an awesome tool!  It digitally extends the reach of our global community, making communication much more efficient and so much fuller and richer!  Facebook can be a tool to keep up with friends from all walks of your life and hear from, share with and talk to as much or as little as you want.  It can be a networking tool for work or a picture sharing tool for geographically separated families.

I believe Facebook is a great tool.  I believe I have learned healthy boundaries with Facebook.  I love myself and I’m no longer shamed while scrolling, I’m happy to see other’s happy times.  I know they have bad times too.  I digitally share their moments, I stay connected with them and I get ideas of things I want to try.

So why on Earth would I minimize Facebook time when connecting that way can be a powerful recovery tool?

Because the people who do those studies, analyze the data and summarize their findings in articles eventually finding their way onto the Yahoo! news stream presuppose that we are all destined to lead lives in which we can be easily shamed.

Unresolved childhood hurts reside in all of us and can be triggered at any time by anyone or anything.

So what’s the difference between the people who use Facebook as a tool and those who view it with shaming caution?  Resolution.


The inner will to deal with their childhood pain, to bring it to the carpet and address it.

I once read an article on my Facebook feed that suggested the way to make the world a better place, to resolve wars, to resolve crises was to address trauma.

I believe them.

Address trauma.

And so as I continue to openly share my thoughts and stories, I’ll do so cautiously, respecting the current social treatise but also striving to sever it, to renew it, to turn it on it’s head.  The goal isn’t to “overshare,” it’s to challenge the existence of that paradigm at all.  See, to a disempowered child, oversharing includes “feed me” or “I scraped my knee.”

We’re so careful in our social society not to be too social at all.  Why hold back?  That’s the source of our shame!  Resolve it all, resolve it now so that you too can have the life you want!

I am not ashamed of who I am or the things I did as a kid.  I was being sexually abused at home and was a typical kid given those circumstances.  So, I will share all of me.  I will share all of what I remember, how I think it fits and what I hope.

I will share it all so that all may share some.

Because if we start to pull the layer back on unresolved childhood pain, we’ll not only find predictable pain, we will find an unexpected utopia.

Animal Instincts

Mezzy Cat

Mezzy Cat

I can’t help but notice how every time (literally every time) my family comes into my small but comfortable apartment, my cat runs away into her safe place.  It’s the guest bathroom which is actually bigger than the master bath, where we keep the litter boxes and cat beds.

Plainly, it’s a cat sanctuary.

And every time my nieces, my nephew, my brother in law and sister walk in the door, jovial and excited, she runs to her sanctuary.  She also runs there during heavy rains and lightning storms.

Now that I’m connected to my animal instincts for survival, I can see and feel her uncertainty, her fear, I can almost hear her catastrophic thoughts!  “Little kids, new people, I’m gonna die, oh no, it’s the end, I’m going to run and hide in my safe place!”

Every animal not only has the instinct but has the right to keep themselves safe and secure, to ensure their own survival.

It’s like the older woman in Minority Report says

Dr. Iris Hineman: It’s funny how all living organisms are alike…

[she starts crushing a mutated plant]

Dr. Iris Hineman: …when the chips are down, when the pressure is on, every creature on the face of the Earth is interested in one thing and one thing only.

Dr. Iris Hineman: [the plant scars her palm] Its own survival.

Every animal not only has the instinct but has the absolute, inalienable and unqualified right to its own survival.  Each and every living organism on this beautiful planet.

Including me.

It’s weird, actually, to be able to admit that, to feel that, to be able to connect that logic to a movie and a seemingly innocuous scurrying away of my cat into the bathroom.  It’s weird because I am starting to connect to that right, possibly for the first time.

There are so many tragedies in my personal story of sexual and emotional abuse by my dad, one of them being that learned and validated instinct of survival was completely removed, severed from my soul.  It didn’t die, it was just disconnected.  And because I wasn’t connected to that, I was connected to a need to please.  To please everyone else but me.  I would even assume responsibility for the bad driving of the driver behind me and would change my driving behaviors accordingly.  Some may suggest that’s just good defensive driving.  I’d say “you’re not hearing me.”  I’d assume responsibility for their behavior.

When your actions and responses look like normal healthy responses, no one wants to dig deeper and get at the core of the issue.  But that’s where I need to be repaired.

Before I understood the survival instinct, I would cull my cat out of her sanctuary and into the “loving arms” of our visitors.  All the while, she’s having a panic attack.  I didn’t understand that she just wanted to feel safe.

Now, I tell my visitors to let her be.  She’ll come out when she feels safe and ready.  And to my credit, she does.  She loves warmth, attention, affection.  She feels safe enough to receive those offerings from others.

In so many ways, my furry little friend is a lot like me.


IMG_0462I can’t seem to find that prolific title to quickly, simply and powerfully convey this very palpable feeling of overt joy I am experiencing this morning.  That title to convey either the lesson or the reason for this blog.

I guess I don’t have to try so hard… Wow says it all.

Last year I won my first ever 5k.  I’ve run them for 8 years and this was the first ever First Overall finish.  I chose the race, 20 miles out of the city, because of the cause… Crime Victim’s Rights Week.  And I won.  I asked to say something when receiving my medal because of all the factors that came together for me to win that race.  I very briefly said who I was, what happened to me and what I’ve learned.

A year later, I was asked to share my story at a luncheon for this year’s Crime Victim’s Rights Week.

That was yesterday.

And it was absolutely incredible.

Never in a million years did I think I would have the opportunity to combine my love of public speaking with what I have found in this last year is my passion for making the world a safe place.  And when I was able to combine what I’ve learned through speech therapy (for stuttering in 6th grade), speech class in high school, speech and debate club in high school, improv training in Chicago, communications class in grad school along with the pyschoeducation from my own personal story and the class at The Meadows… Fireworks.

The result were beautiful, inspirational, touching and healing fireworks.  Both for me in my recovery and for the audience in theirs.

I’ve been asked to do more.  If this was the first step, I am excited to even think about what this journey of sharing and healing through sharing looks like.

I always dreamed of being on a platform speaking to a group of people, teaching or sharing something with them.  I always knew I would be good at it.  I didn’t know what the topic was but standing behind a podium with every eye trained on me… that was very vivid in my dreams, my imagination.  I did it not for my own glory but to help others.

Yesterday that dream manifested itself in a way I never thought possible.  I got a taste of what it’s like to have my dreams come true.

And I want more.

For me.

For others.

So that future victims won’t be victims at all.

It’s Just not Natural

no-easy-buttonI was having a conversation with my colleague yesterday.  I had told him I was “catching up on emails.”  Which was true but also a conversational tool I can use quickly when asked what I’m doing.  He scoffed “you’re always checking emails.  How long does it take you?  It takes me maybe twenty minutes at the end of the day.”

It takes me 20 minutes an email.

We got into a brief but deep conversation about what I’m doing to continue to recover.  Perfectionism shows up for me in every facet of my life.  I shared that with him.  Reflecting, I maybe shared too much with him.  That’s okay, but I took down my internal boundary to make myself vulnerable with him about something that bothers me at work.

When I told him all that, he simply said, “just don’t do that.”

Really?  It’s just that simple?  Just… don’t… do… that?

Hallelujah!  We found the answer!

Now, back to earth…

In reality, I’m having to deliberately relearn some of the skills I should have picked up on as a child.  The complicated, complex, confusing part of it is I can, now, readily identify and talk about areas I want to improve… emails for example, but the unresolved emotion that flows through me like a current continues to want to direct my actions and reactions which look frighteningly familiar to my life as a victim.  5 or 50, you wouldn’t know it because my feelings are still locked up inside me, influencing my behaviors.

This is hard work.  The challenge isn’t necessarily identifying or even changing the behavior.  It’s what attempting to change the behavior stirs up… the sludge of pain, anger, emptiness that naturally comes with having been abused the way I was as a child.

What does a kid do?  If you were raped, sodomized, ostracized, criticized by your father, your dad, your hero, your protector and never allowed to talk about it?  What would you do?

When I identify issues like my work email issue and address it, attempt to change it, it only dredges up the painful emotions that made it an issue in the first place.

It just doesn’t come natural.

But like the Genie in the classic film Aladdin says… “It can be done.”

Of that I am firmly convinced.  My resolve to reclaim my life is stronger than ever.  I believe I have a right to feel and I believe I have the strength to deal.

The Going Got Good…

obstaclesSaturday morning I woke up and I got going.  I got going early, 645 am!  I had wanted to get back to doing that as I had done at periods throughout my recovery.  I like waking up early and getting going.  I feel refreshed and free when I wake up early and get started.  It may have something to do with it taking me a bit to get going so I feel I have more of the day when I’m set by 8 instead of by 10, but that doesn’t really matter too much.  What matters is I woke up, got going and felt alive.

As I continue to rebound from the last 7 days, I saw that Facebook post in which I commented “I love being alive!”  And it struck me, again.

Last week was a good week.  A challenging week and I felt up for the challenge even with the compounding layers of stuff to deal with.  Allergies, my marriage, significant change at work, and recovery.  I felt up to the challenge at all layers.  I could even feel myself continuing to push when that part of me that needed to rest was doing his best to trust the part of me that kept going.  I wanted to keep that going into and through the weekend.  I wanted to be active and go!  I wanted to take pictures, knock out some of my to do list, all that stuff!  And I did.

And then Saturday’s surprise.

I just wasn’t in a place to deal with my sister’s phone call in which my abuser came back from the “dead.”  And that’s my recovery lesson for this morning.

Life is going to throw unexpected challenges my way.  It’s not that I want to be at “the ready” 24 hours a day, but I do want to listen to my body better.  Thursday afternoon, after that trying day, really 3 days, I could have simply rested.  Put everything down and let my body recover.

I am not going to handle every challenge well or overcome every obstacle or even be 100% ready to face them as they come.  But I can listen to my body better.  I tried to squeeze every last bit of productivity out of that functional, productive place I was in last week when in reality, I needed to stop and reflect.  It’s easy to do that for myself when I’m in a “bad” place.  It’ll be a challenge to recognize those times when I’m in a “good” place.  Emotions, bad or good, have the ability to affect my thought processes, decisions and actions.  And as I take accountability for the pain, anger, shame I will also take accountability for the happiness, joy and optimism.

This is my truth and my reality.  I am recovering from CSA and depression.  At any moment, I can be triggered into that catastrophic, debilitating place.  I am frustrated that Saturday’s surprise affected me the way it did, but it did.  That doesn’t mean I can’t continue on the recovery path.  I absolutely can and will.

After all, I’m committed to reclaiming the life I should have had and want now.  One obstacle at a time.


out of the blueI had reached the end of a challenging and good week.  My body was fighting allergies, I was dealing with the stress of being around colleagues and a new manager, and I was accepting truth at home and where I actually fit into my marriage.

Being self-aware, for someone who hasn’t been before, is tough.  It involves, at times, shattering my belief systems that I unconsciously built on rocky ground.  There was no reason to change them, until now.  And every day I challenge myself, I’m putting my belief systems, some of which I know are faulty and some of which I suspect are… to the test.

I was all prepared to blog on “reality” as it relates to me, both as a victim and survivor.  I’ve got one foot in both worlds.  I know that I can proceed at my own pace into the survivor world, and I am.  One hair, one breath, one step at a time.

And then out of the blue, I learn that my abuser knows something about my personal life.


Victim world persona, thought processes, reality all began to take hold again.  DAMNIT!  I had worked so hard to tear this world down.  It worked for me then and it’s not working now!  Damn!

Ruminating thoughts, feeling scared, angry, concerned.

What does he know?  How did he find out?  What’s he going to do with that information?  Can I trust anyone around me?  Am I making this up?  Does no one believe me?  Why would they continue to talk to him after knowing what he’s done?  What he’s capable of?  Is everyone sharing my thoughts with him?  Why the hell can’t this monster just disappear?!  Can I trust ANYONE!?!?

And then I went through the process.  What am I feeling?  Why?  How can I address that feeling?  What can I do about it?

In a millisecond, my world shattered, regressed back to a  world I thought I was systematically destroying.  And it was frustrating, angering, and frightening.

I do NOT want to be scared anymore!

And as the dust settles from this unexpected life event, it became clear that I am still progressing.  Sitting here, typing this blog, I have my Eight Basic Emotions card from the Meadows.  I identified the two feelings I had and I’ve begun to deconstruct why I feel that way and what I can do about it.

I feel frustrated.  Frustrated because as I continue to make what I believe is progress, something like my sister calling out of the blue with something my dad wants to confirm about my personal life can throw me off.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  I’m grieving the loss of my idyllic father, my dad, my football tossing, baseball throwing role model.  I never had that and never will.  He violated my sacred trust and because of his actions, I work every day to build my trust in others back up.  So when I hear from my “dad” through family, I’m actually hearing about my abuser.  My dad is dead to me.  My abuser is very much alive.

This is my new world.

And that’s the other feeling…threatened.  Not so much by him as by my shaky belief that I can indeed have the life I want.  I’m not waiting for the shoe to drop anymore.  I firmly believe in my self worth and my ability to do whatever I want to get the life I want.  Moments like these may initially threaten me and shake that confidence, but not to the core.

I addressed my core… I am worthy, lovable, valuable and perfectly imperfect.  I know the truth.  I know what happened to me.  I know the pain and struggles I’ve been through to get here.  And I’m not going back.

Turns out I can have the life I want, even with a rocky beginning.  Even with my abuser still in this world, undeservingly.

And I can do whatever it takes to create a safe world for me… I blocked all ties to him (his side of the family) on Facebook.  I asked my family not to talk about me at all with him or about him with me.  I reiterated that he is no longer my “dad” but my “abuser.”

Life is going to happen.  It’s full of challenges.  That much is certain.  So the question isn’t will I experience an easy life, it’s how will I handle the challenges?

So far… I think I’m doing quite alright :)

Self-Care – Haircut

haircutToday, I went to a different barber shop to get my haircut.  I live in a big city and have been going to a hip, urban kind of place for the last two years.  My wife had yelped a good place for me to get a haircut when we first moved here and I have gone, religiously, ever since.  I have developed a good relationship with the same barber and have had the same routine for the last two years.

Recently, I noticed I wasn’t happy about my haircut and the way I looked.  I asked for something different the last two visits to the same place, but kept getting the same.  I actually felt I got better cuts from a different barber in the same place, but I couldn’t bring myself from my guy’s chair.  I also felt really bad about even considering a new barber or going to a new place.

See, when I first started going, I had overheard the same guy ask another customer if he had been to a different barber.  The customer said no.  The barber, after the customer left, said he was lying, that he could tell.  He declared, “just don’t lie to me, you know?”  Again, after the customer had left.  Several months later, I jokingly said, I hadn’t been anywhere else, I just got it cut by his partner while he was gone.  He told me it’s okay if you have a different barber, just keep coming to his place.

I felt trapped.

One of the items on the self-care sheet is appearance… “Are you happy with the way you look, haircut, etc.?”  I wasn’t.  And I knew I had to do something about it.

So I did.

I got a different kind of cut today at a different place.  I have been hearing radio ads for this place for the last couple of months and figured I’d try it out.

And I really enjoyed it.  I got a shampoo, a scalp massage and a stylish cut to go with my new confident personality.

I learned that I am responsible and accountable only for myself.  I feel bad about having to leave my guy who I’ve grown to know so well, but I won’t feel guilty about taking care of myself.  I found a place on my own and didn’t rely on my wife to recommend (tell) me where to go.  And I feel great about my new do.

See, the thing about being a survivor, having the the thought processes I do, blinded me from seeing that I had internalized what he said on my first visit and I allowed myself to believe I had to go to his place for my cuts.  I anchored that belief with the long held desire I’ve had to have some kind of routine and a place where everybody “knew my name.”  I allowed myself to feel guilty for wanting a different guy.  I didn’t recognize it then, but I had always felt beholden to that place.

Not anymore.

I have a right and responsibility to myself.  And today I took that right and responsibility and I feel good about my decision.  My new do may take shape over the next several months, but at least I’m in control of it.

Yes, even something as simple as getting a haircut is something I’ll have to relearn how to claim.

And I’ll do it, one hair at a time.