Monthly Archives: October, 2017

Me TOO. And Rape Culture

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Me, too. I have my personal stories of abuse, harassment, and rape. Today we call what happened human trafficking.  Most of my life I simply called it abuse.

When I was in graduate school, we were all required to give presentations to our class on our individual projects. My focus of study was treatment for adults abused as children.

This was the 1980’s, and I noticed the limited academic articles. Some of the ones I did find were hideous. Blaming the child. Stating that, “Yes, it happens, but it’s really okay.” That’s rape culture.

I thought a lot about that. I pondered the reactions of people to any discussion of child abuse. The ostrich reaction. That too is rape culture.

So, for my class presentation, I prepared this knock your socks off experience for my fellow students. As future mental health professionals, I wanted to introduce them to the feelings of a child who experienced early abuse. I wanted to reach them. I succeeded.

A woman jumped up, knocked over her chair, and ran out of the room sobbing. I’d gone too far. In today’s society, I’d give a trigger warning.

Now I understand that violence against women is pervasive and has so many incarnations that almost everyone in any group of women will have experienced some form of sexual violence. That is rape culture. A culture where sexual violence is so common it touches almost everyone.

In my mind, there is a continuum of sexual violence. Starting from the inappropriate comment or joke in a group, moving into unwanted hugs and escalating all the way up to rape, serial rape, battery, and sexual murder. There are so many different forms that this behavior is extensive and deep in our culture.

I’m a glorious 72 years of age. I’ve spent my life’s work on issues of childhood trauma, sexual violence, and harassment. Childhood trauma, sexual violence, sexual power games, and harassment are rampant in our society. I think it might be difficult to find someone who has NOT been violated in one of its many forms. Again, rape culture.

I’ve been proud of these women I don’t know who stood up now and told their truth. Their bravery impressed me. And the more women who stood up and spoke their truths, the more hopeful I became. If enough women spoke up, maybe, just maybe, things might change. Maybe our culture would teach our boys it’s not normal to violate women.

Then I read a scathing Facebook post from a man who scorned people like me who wrote “me too” in their status update. My face burned when I read his thought that women were claiming victim status without earning it. OMG, how does one earn something none of us want?

I know he misunderstood the purpose of the ‘me too’ movement. And thought he might be a perpetrator. I passed on that discussion. Although many people attempted to convince him he was wrong. None succeeded.

You cannot imagine my shock at my own reactions when people I like to watch on TV were themselves named. I didn’t want it to be true. Then I remembered Ann Rule’s book about Ted Bundy, The Stranger Beside Me. How he worked at a suicide prevention center. She, a writer of true crime fiction, had no idea he was a predator. All the techniques he used to appear harmless flooded my mind.

Okay, he was a serial killer. The cast on his leg, crutches, and removal of a seat in his harmless-looking VW were extreme. But the underlying reality was that harmless looking people, people we like, the friendly neighborhood whomever can all be predatory animals.

And then, well, then I heard the report on Former President Bush. First, I got angry. Inappropriate angry at the woman. I made up stories and reasons she’d make her accusation. I didn’t vote for either Bush. But I loved him jumping out of an airplane for his 90th birthday.

Then I made up a rationale for his behavior. Made mental excuses for him. POW! I am so mad at myself. Or was until I worked this out.

I remembered everything I’ve studied, seen and experienced. My task as a professional is to self-examine. So I did.

I thought about how often I’ve been in a group laughing at the idea of a ‘dirty old man‘ in a nursing home pinching the nurse’s butt. Chasing women around the facility in his walker.

Group laughter at these images. With a wink and a nod. Because everyone around me thought it was cool to go to the twilight of their lives as a ‘dirty old man‘ Or a ‘dirty old lady‘!

And I got angry. At myself, at you and you and even you. At our society which makes jokes out of sexual violence. Jokes that normalize it and make it seem okay.

The reality then becomes that it’s okay for poor old maybe senile former President Bush to grab women’s butts. Okay for the men who do these things. Not so okay for the women who are on the receiving end.

And that, my friends, is rape culture.

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Just scroll a little further down the page and use the “Leave a Reply” box to add your opinions. Make your suggestions and let me know what your needs are.

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©2016-17 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.                    Privacy Policy

The Day A Hero Became A Villain

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It was a a day that lets you breathe air fully
sun a blazing light
so bright you cannot look into it
sky a healing fantastical blue
suggesting boundless possibilities
gossamer clouds spelling peace
birds singing a song of spring
a day suggesting freedom and hope.

Today I ponder how I came to this place
where I was irrevocably harmed.
How an epic hero doctor on a beautiful day
wearing his white cape and a brilliant smile
worshiped by many
admired by most
used to giving comfort and thoughtful care
made a deliberate decision to betray himself
violate ethics and morality
and selfishly harm a patient.

I’ve howled my own pain to the sky
written volumes of rage
torn papers into shreds with my pen
while I examined my feelings
indignation
betrayal
rage
distress
woundedness
devastation
grief
sadness
resignation
acceptance.

Today, I’m writing his story.
It’s a cautionary tale
a warning for all of us
how a good man could go so wrong
and fall from grace.

There was a moment
a second
an infinitesimal instant.
He could have gone either way
hero or villain.

He chose villain
when he made a coward’s decision
to hide his mistake
instead of face it and
be the person he had been before.

It is true that I was irrevocably damaged
by his decision and cowardice.
It is equally true that he changed his
character in that second
and was himself irrevocably damaged
by his behavior.

No more hero
coward
wimp
weakling
chicken
yellow-belly
candy-ass
craven
cur
scaredy cat

I had lymphoma and finished 8 rounds of chemo.
Six months later, my CT Scan showed a new mass.
Ideally we would have run a PET Scan before I was hospitalized
but insurance was being difficult.
He ran the PET Scan the morning of my admission to the hospital.
The results of that testing told him not to give me chemotherapy
but treatment had already begun.
Those results that said I had no new cancer.
He could have stopped the treatment.
It had only been an hour or two of poison in my veins.

All else followed from that one cowardly decision.
He lost his ethics, morality, and integrity.
It’s a warning for all of us
how one bad decision leads to another and another
until finally you have lost your soul to evil.

Instead of being honest and facing a mistake
he waited a day and lied.
He told me the machine was broken
and had the test run again.
Another moment in time
another decision to be a hero or a villain
show courage or be a coward.

The results were the same
no cancer.
He chose to be a coward
protect himself
wait to find out what to do.
Truly I can only guess at his motivation
his thought process.
I imagine he panicked and envisioned his
life going down the drain.
Maybe the medical center lawyers were involved.
Who really knows what was going on in the privacy of his mind?
Whatever his reasoning
he did not tell me
he did not stop the chemotherapy at all.

Seven days of advanced chemotherapy
24 hours per day for seven days
168 hours of poison designed
for the purpose of flattening my immune system
and making way for a bone marrow transplant.

He telephoned me a month later after I lost my hair
and was completely chemo sick
to tell me in a quirky way that I was lucky.
“Good news,” he said
“You don’t have cancer again at all,”
ignoring the elephant he had placed between us.

He did say, “sorry” before he became brutal
blocking my disability
refusing to sign any papers
preventing me from obtaining any medical care
at all.

That’s the descent into villainhood.
From one decision to another and another
until he behaved as a monster.
Making me sick by accident
and keeping me sick on purpose.

And that’s the story, morning glory.
It was thirteen years ago and in a different state.
It took a long time to figure it all out.
I worked very diligently and
got out from under the thumb of a former hero.

A hero who made a mistake and then did a very bad thing.
He treated me as an object causing him a problem
instead of the living breathing human being he had harmed.
I found medical care after I moved away and
blocked anyone from obtaining my medical records.

This is a true story and it bears a repeated warning.
Cherish your honor and make it your own
because every decision you make leads to your next decision.
Every casual selfishness creates your future life
because whatever we do builds into our next action
and we too, each of us
can change from a hero to a villain.
It begins with a small decision and
the fall into becoming a despicable human being
spirals faster and faster
until you might not even know yourself anymore.

My emphasis is on walking your journey with you as you work toward realizing your dreams, hopes, wishes, and goals.

Your feedback is important! Please let me know your thoughts and feelings about this writing.

Just scroll a little further down the page and use the “Leave a Reply” box to add your opinions. Make your suggestions and let me know what your needs are.

If you wish to say more, e-mail me at agentledrlaura@mail.com or by using the contact me box below.

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Holiday Self-Care Tips

This page of self-care tips is for everyone who finds Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day an unhappy experience. I looked for quotes that go against what most people say and think about the holiday season.

I wrote these to help you pick those strategies that seem most suitable to you. If you think you need help developing your self-care tips, consider my Online Holiday Art Coaching Group.

Most of my life’s work has been spent with people who experienced abuse, trauma, grief and tragedy. I worry that someone with unhappy, abusive, and traumatic histories might feel isolated and alone during the holidays.

Watch this space. I’ll be adding a self-care tip daily. There are 2 other holiday pages: Quotes and Holiday Myths.

Halloween-Self-Care-Tip-1

You find your truth by asking yourself questions and listening to your thoughts and feelings. Part of this is what you’ve experienced. In this case, we’re talking about trauma, tragedy, grief, abuse, and harassment. These events and what you have experienced. It might surprise you to realize that the way you think and feel is normal for someone who has experienced events like yours.

There is more to your truth. Your truths also involve what you believe, need, want and think. These are often private thoughts that you don’t share with others.

Knowing your truths is one way you can make self-enhancing holiday plans.

Halloween-Self-Care-2-

This one takes a bit of practice. You do have to go up against your own inner rules about your feelings. You might also need to go against the feelings rules of everyone else around you.

Like I wrote above, your feelings are normal given your history. If you acknowledge your feelings, you can make plans that are more suitable to you.

Halloween-Self-Care-3

Most people with painful histories judge themselves as bad and wrong for existing. I usually call this the “wrong rule.” It goes like this. I’m too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, too loud, too silent. If I think it, feel it, want it, need it, I’m wrong. And the wrong rule is simply by itself—wrong.

Instead, you want to turn this thought behavior on it’s head. Instead of judging yourself around the holiday season, find ways to make yourself right. Then find ways to self-soothe and comfort.

This one is easier than it sounds. You can pick any small are large thing you think, are or do and deliberately to yourself give yourself credit for it. When I began using this tool, I started very small. Every day, I praised myself for washing my face and brushing my teeth. There are many ways to expand this. But first you need to develop it as a habit.

Holiday-Self-Care-Tip-4

So many people who have experienced abuse, neglect, abandonment, trauma, and harassment just take the blame on themselves. It’s an easy mental trick. You, probably unconsciously, think “If I’m at fault, I can change this!”

Since we cannot control other people abuse and all the rest above have never been your fault.

This requires a lot of self-talk.

Holiday-Self-Care-5-

For the upcoming holidays, you can listen to your wants, needs, and desires. It might take determination, but you can decide to ask yourself what you would like your holiday to be like. And then plan it just for you.

There are so many choices. Some of the possible choices will be posted here in the near future. The range is from ignoring the holidays completely to planning a holiday that matches your wants, needs and desires.

Holiday-Self-Care-Tip-6

Okay, okay, I know the stores are full of holloween candy! The television is advertising halloween scary movies. And right now, halloween is everywhere. In a few weeks, Thanksgiving will be imposed upon you in advertising, on television, at work and throughout your friendships. You can tune it out. Make alternate plans for yourself. Politely say, “no” to invitations. “Thank you, but I cannot” is a simple example.

Holiday-Self-Care-7

There is no right way to celebrate or not celebrate holidays. It’s a matter of finding out what is best for you. Some people find service allows them to turn their misery into moments of blessings. Others find it does the opposite.

Ask yourself what Y O U R needs are. You can ponder all of these ideas and pick the ones that are best for you.

Holiday-Self-Care-#-8

If you belong to a church, are comfortable in church, one way to spend the holidays is to involve yourself with the church of your choice.

Your feedback is important! If you have holiday quotes that are meaningful to you, please add them to the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the page.

If you wish to say more, e-mail me at agentledrlaura@mail.com or by using the contact me box below.

If you like my writing and are interested in applying some of these ideas, subscribe to my newsletter.

email: agentledrlaura@mail.com                                         Telephone: (615) 464-3791

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©2016-17 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.                    Privacy Policy

 

 

Holiday Myths Held by People with Trauma

This page of holiday myths is for everyone who finds Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day an unhappy experience. I listed this series of false beliefs about the holidays because false beliefs tend to act as self-judgment. They often end up as an abusive stick to criticize yourself with as you try to live through a difficult time.

Most of my life’s work has been spent with people who experienced abuse, trauma, grief and tragedy. I worry that someone with unhappy, abusive, and traumatic histories might feel isolated and alone during the holidays.

It is my hope that you challenge these beliefs or at the very least remind yourself that they are false. In the Holiday Art Coaching Group we will be talking about tools to use for this.

Watch this space. I’ll be adding a myth daily. There are 2 other holiday pages: Quotes and Self-Care Tips.

Holiday Myth 1 colemanlifecoaching.com

This is a myth that you can walk into a space that reminds you of unhappy memories and just block it out. Not only is that not good for you, it hurts more.

I remember the first year of holidays after my late husband died. As I lived the year’s cycle of holidays, I was hit with such grief.

Instead of blocking the memories and feelings, think about them. Think about what you need. Then find a way to give it to yourself.

Holiday Myth 2

I’m not sure this is true for anyone anywhere. It’s harder for people whose life experience tells them that holidays can be tragic, painful, and scary.

I’m probably repeating myself over and over, but no one nowhere eliminate unhappy feelings.

Accepting your feelings and comforting yourself is key.

Holiday-Myth-3

I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing this was actually true. But you cannot. This is especially painful during holidays. Instead, if you can remind yourself you are normal, this will be a tiny bit easier.

Instead, if you can remind yourself you are normal, this will be a tiny bit easier.

Halloween-Myth-4

The cruelty of this belief is that people really try to get into the swing of things no matter what has happened to them. And because it’s impossible to do without some deliberately acquired  skills and actions, they fail. Then their inner critique makes lots of noise. In coaching we call this self-criticism, gremlins. This myth gives your inner gremlins lots of permission.

Holiday-Myth-5

 

This probably is self-evident. No one always loves everything. The oppressiveness of this belief is that it can leave you feeling out of step.

Even worse, you might falsely believe that if you cannot love the holidays, you deserve to be unhappy. In this way, people deny themselves the comfort they need.

I remember the Easter I was chased and attacked by a gang of roudy boys. They hit me with bricks and threw me down in the mud. I think, at ten years old, I was most offended by the fact they ruined my beautiful lavender organza dress.

I find Easter uncomfortable. The candy is problematic for me. I get to comfort myself and make regular plans for how I will cope with this holiday.

Your get to do the same for yourself.

Holiday-Myth-6

If you have a chronic illness and research does show that early childhood trauma increases lifetime illness, then you might hope this belief is true.

Chronic illness has it’s own special considerations. Self-care, pacing, and realistic expectations are all part of living day-to-day with chronic illness. Unfortunately, not everyone in your life will have reasonable expectations of you. This requires much self-honesty and assertiveness. And that is difficult.

Your solutions begin with gaining your own realistic expectations of yourself during the holidays.

Holiday-Myth-7

Again, if you live with chronic illness or have multiple demands upon you, this myth can be brutal. I live with chronic illness and find it difficult to do everything my mind can think of. Sometimes I visualize a fancy holiday party with foods, decorations, and such. Or making a creative costume for myself and my husband. Instead, I have to stay within my energy envelope. I only have so many energy marbles in my jar before I ‘lose my marbles’ to my chronic medical conditions.

Holiday-Myth-8

When I wrote this one, I thought, “Well, that’s rediculous!” Then I remembered how many times I tried to please everyone in my life. It’s quite difficult to challenge this one, because the people who want you to please them will argue about it. It might help to realize that the only person who can change this burden on you is you.

Holiday-Myth-9

I’m not certain I can write anything wise about this. I do remember years I’ve thought, “it’s okay, it’s the holidays” while I ruined whatever healthy eating plan I was following.

Your feedback is important! If you have holiday quotes that are meaningful to you, please add them to the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the page.

If you wish to say more, e-mail me at agentledrlaura@mail.com or by using the contact me box below.

If you like my writing and are interested in applying some of these ideas, subscribe to my newsletter.

email: agentledrlaura@mail.com                                         Telephone: (615) 464-3791

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Credentials Verified by Psychology Today.

©2016-17 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.                    Privacy Policy

 

 

Holiday Quotes for People for Whom the Holidays Are Difficult

This page of quotes is for everyone who finds Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day an unhappy experience. I looked for quotes that go against what most people say and think about the holiday season.

Most of my life’s work has been spent with people who experienced abuse, trauma, grief and tragedy. I worry that someone with unhappy, abusive, and traumatic histories might feel isolated and alone during the holidays.

I picked quotes that seemed to me to express something other than the giddy happiness you see over the airways, on the net, in restaurants, stores, and so on. The pressure to be happy is everywhere.

This page and the following pages of holiday myths and self-care tips are all designed to help you handle this year’s season.

Holiday Quote 1

This quote just appeals to me for the feelings of Halloween. If you feel it’s all “toil and trouble”, consider trimming down your celebration. Or eliminating it altogether.

Holiday Quote 2

I was considering how scary Halloween could be to people who have been traumatized early in life. My cousin babysat for me early in life and told me the story of her first day taking care of me. I was an infant and naturally have no memory of this. She was five and not told it was Halloween. No candy to give out. No preparation for the costumes ringing the bell. I still feel the anxiety I felt when she explained this to me sometime in my twenties.

I still feel the anxiety I felt when she explained this to me sometime in my twenties.

When I was searching quotes, this quote reminded me of that feeling. And it’s okay to feel scared. Just also think of ways to comfort yourself.

Holiday Quote 3

“I definitely do not like Halloween. I don’t like masks, creepy clowns, dark things, goblins or witches. They’re not just my thing.” Tyler Perry. If you feel like this, know that you are not alone.

If you feel like this, know that you are not alone. You don’t have to like “masks, creepy clowns, dark things, goblins or witches.”

If you can acknowledge this without judging yourself, you can find ways to take care of you. You matter.

Halloween-Quote-4

To me, this quote also says it’s normal to feel scared at Halloween. Some people enjoy this. Some do not.

I don’t like scary things. They do remind me of my early childhood abuse. I don’t watch scary movies, go to costume parties where everyone gets to scare everyone else.

It’s my hope that you will take this to support and encourage you to accept any feelings you have at Halloween.

Halloween-Quote-5

And yes, that is the way it is. Try to figure out what exactly spooks you. Then, you can also figure out ways to plan your night that make it easier for you. And that idea does also apply to all the days up to Halloween too.

Halloween-Quote-6-

“I’m not fond of a tradition that requires people to open the door for strangers. Or for kids to take candy from strangers.” ~Megan Erickson.

She’s a comedian and is making fun of the idea of Halloween. I thought about how irreverent this comment is making your opinions about Halloween perfectly okay. This quote seemed comforting to me.

Holiday-Quote-7

This sounds funny and people can laugh as if it’s silly to take care of yourself. But really it’s not silly to honor your personal history. It’s not silly at all to do whatever you need to be okay during Halloween.

Holiday-Quote-8

It’s okay to be frightened. The strategy to manage this during your holiday season involves owning your truth about your fear. Then you can make plans to comfort and soothe yourself. You can make decisions what to participate in and what to say, “no” to.

Holiday-Quote-9

As I was searching for Halloween quotes for people who have difficulty with the holidays, I stumbled across this one. I like it because it speaks truths that some people think but do not say. If you can think and feel how you really feel, you can participate or not in whatever parts of the holiday season you want to participate in.

Your feedback is important! If you have holiday quotes that are meaningful to you, please add them to the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the page.

If you wish to say more, e-mail me at agentledrlaura@mail.com or by using the contact me box below.

If you like my writing and are interested in applying some of these ideas, subscribe to my newsletter.

Watch this space. I’ll be adding a quote daily. There are 2 other holiday pages: Myths and Self-Care Tips.

email: agentledrlaura@mail.com                                         Telephone: (615) 464-3791

Board-Certifications-Logos

Credentials verified by Psychology Today.

 

©2016-17 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.                    Privacy Policy

 

 

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