Your Networking and Your Intent Hold Hands. Here’s Why.

It has been five years since I published my first book, a collection of poetry entitled “Dusted Shelves”. I went into the studio with a great local producer in Seattle, WA, Lance Randall, and recorded Dusted Shelves Poetry C.D., complete with scoring and sound affects. The same year, 2013, I published an interactive journal, “Becoming Gratitude”, designed to reconnect ourselves with mindful awareness of our life. I published these two books while I was writing “Cult Child“, which I published in 2015.

 

When I reminisce on my writing processes recounting my childhood trauma through the pages of “Cult Child“, I realize I was writing it all inside of a very deep emotional triad that my brain was using to keep me balanced.

Dusted Shelves” was spilling my emotions through organization of poetry written when I was in trauma. “Becoming Gratitude” was helping me every day, stay focused on a positive mindset while I was writing out childhood trauma.

The ability the brain has to work in sync with itself is amazing to me.

Marketing has been a challenge. It has been a process of trial and error, testing and most of all, learning where I will make connections which contribute to my greater good as a person. Having been online from its conception in the early 2000’s, I have, in the past couple of years, felt myself begin to spin with the arrival of fast moving applications like Instagram. Twitter’s fast rise and the plethora of apps being thrown at me to market my writing likewise can overwhelm me. Things seemed to be speeding up faster then I really even felt an inner desire to keep up with.

I set out to understand where I was connecting to my readers. Who could understand me and emotionally feel my writing?

Since my memoir is based out of growing up in a cult, I first gravitated toward the cult advocacy society, where survivors of cults and other mind control groups, tended to congregate. Outside of a few connections who have turned out to be gems, I  learned over time this was not where I was finding the scope of authentic connections I longed for. I walked away from my time in that community learning that the content of my book does not dictate its audience or who will connect with it.

In my explorations, I chose to do a short podcast series entitled Survivor Voices Show. I interviewed strong voices like popular author and marketing expert, Rachel Thompson, owner of Bad Redhead Media and founder of Monday Blogs on Twitter. M Dolon Hickmon, author of bestseller, 13:24: A Story Of Faith and Obsession, Liz Ianelli, artist Survivor993, Cathy O’Brien, best-selling author of Access Denied: For Reasons Of National Security and PTSD: Time To Heal, and my fellow cult survivor, Glori L. Stiner, founder of Move Forward, a cause dedicated to exposing the abuses we children endured growing in Sam Fife’s Move of God cult. I wanted to cover as many mind control and generational abuse based stories as I could. I am pleased with series and am considering doing another one.

I spoke with author Matt Pappas, popular podcaster, sexual abuse survivor and owner of Beyond Your Past. I learned something extraordinary from everyone I talked with. We all had differing experiences when we broke down how our abuses were enacted. We all were even on differing paths in our healing journey. Yet still we all dealt with similar bi-products of the abuse we endured. We experienced Dissociation Disorders, cPTSD, Anxiety, Personality Disorders and a very long list of every day impairments left behind by our abusers. Amazingly, so many of us are thriving and supporting each other as we all are healing.

These experiences taught me that beyond the fences of my journey in this life is something important; that I am surrounded by those who are traveling the same road as me for one reason; because the destination leads to Healing. In the interim of all that I do, this matters to me more than anything.

People who have suffered childhood poly-abuse (sexual, physical, emotional) have the most in common with veterans of war. Yet, the difference is, children shouldn’t have to go to war.

There is no one arena or mold where I fit. I greatly respect and relate to those who have seen the horrors of war and the horrors which can be wrought on a child. I have read many a marketing post about finding my “target audience.” Yet, as I share my journey, what I have found to be an absolute for me is when I stayed rooted in an intent of connecting with survivors, instead of hunting down an audience, I felt the best. It changed my direction. I realized I could funnel small amounts of marketing funds into boosting posts while using my personal energy to really foster positive connections with other survivors from all walks of life.

I believe that as I gear up to release Rise of Sila next year I won’t change much about these connections. My peers will continue to understand me, as they have had the same struggles of abuse even in their teenage years. My story is still the voice of many a survivor, and it is for them, and my own mental health, that I finish this duo-logy.

I usually hunker down between the months of November – February. They are the months of holidays and taxes. I avoid social networking and pound out work. Leading back to the original topic of whether you are running in the right circles for your work, I leave you with this consideration.

Remember you are not just your content, you are also your intent.

Is your content fueled with the intent to connect with those who will understand what you are sharing? Are you rooted in the originality of who you are? Is this shining through your work and connections? If you are struggling to understand who you are, remember that we evolve, and part of who we are is constantly figuring out who we are! When you come into an acceptance of your now, I promise you’ll find your people.

Meanwhile, pound the pages, the canvas, the pavement, whatever you do to purge, create and express. This is the root of your creative intent.

Are You Successful?

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“From Waif to Warrior” by Vennie Kocsis – Available for Purchase at: vennie-kocsis.pixels.com

I was asked “Do you feel successful.”

Yes. I do.” I answered.

Their face squinched up.

But you don’t even own a house.”

I had to chuckle. I wasn’t offended. I actually welcome these conversations. It opens up perspective. I was able to explain that I have never wanted to be tied to a mortgage. I don’t like being tied to payments period. I have never had that desire. Anytime I was, it was a great struggle for me. I felt chained and inside of the humanoid mill.

I have always been a wanderer, a traveler, even at times, a runner, from situations I couldn’t handle. But I never have longed for riches or looked at that as a definition of success. If I ever longed for it, it was in a thought of how many people could be helped if wealth was in the hands of the compassionate. Yet, mainly, my mind is always ablaze with possible creations, projects, new ideas to filter in or let blow away in the wind.

You see, I am successful because I walked through fire, burning and scalded to now stand in the most authentic space I’ve ever felt. I am successful at owning the totality of my own life, shamelessly. I am successful because I wrote my story, years of aching and crying, vomiting into plastic bags, most often alone, in dark rooms, screaming out the childhood torture to expel it from my molecular structure.

I am successful for the songs which flowed through me to soothe my spirit and the poetry book so eloquently penned; that I found my gratitude and can look at four brilliant, independent publications. MY hands made those. MY DNA poured those timeless scrolls into tangible literary works. I am successful because they will remain forever, precious to someone.

I am successful because I get to be who I was born to be. I get to create art. I get to CREATE anything I wish. I get to call my own shots. I get to stand in a place of empowerment and not fear of loss. I am successful because I am at peace in this space.

Our definition of success could be defined the moment we are doing what we love, when we are healing and growing. Maybe therein is the critical switch, a word definition, away from accumulation and into inspiration.

I am successful.

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show and her live Sunday broadcast Off the Cuff. She is an advocate, poet and artist.

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“Dead, Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir” by Zack Bonnie

 “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.” Lily Tomlin

Let Me Be

art by Jonathan Weiner, San Francisco, CA 2015

Accented with unique and relevant art by Jonathan Weiner of San Francisco, CA,”Dead Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir“, by Zack Bonnie, reveals with precision the mind bending abuse enacted inside of the youth reform industry. “The Cult That Spawned the Tough-Love Teen Industry”, by Mother Jones, explains the birth of this industry and provides the following graph.  CEDU had roots in Synanon and began in 1967.

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It was indeed an industry of profit as parents were indoctrinated with the belief that any slightly “off” behavior by their teenager was a sign of serious problems, resulting in parents not only giving away their children with the belief they were helping them, but additionally being swindled out of millions of dollars.

Dead, Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir” opens with Bonnie taking a ski trip with his father. Subsequent events find a fourteen-year-old Bonnie checked into a youth reform facility in Idaho. He is tricked, and left there against his will. Thus begins the enactment of Bonnie’s mental shattering. Overnight, he joins the ranks of the large number of throwaway youth in the eighties, who eventually were labeled “Generation X“.

With every phone call monitored and Bonnie’s parents receiving false reports of his progress, he becomes trapped in an intricately woven scheme of abuse.  He has no means of escape.  He is unable to relay his alarming conditions to anyone.  Forced through bizarre, psychological techniques to become emotionally naked, Bonnie is often left confused about what is real in his mind.  The children are left unsure of what a right answer to staff questions should be.  They are love bombed, then verbally abused, with severely psychotic mind control rituals. The CEDU facilitators often use the children’s personal family dynamics to manipulate them.

“To not share would be to betray them and the confidences that they shared.  I said the most innermost things that made my voice tremble to admit, bringing an ancient anger and self-hatred to the surface.  It wasn’t just the situation; it was where it was taking me, inside myself.

I’m useless.”

Who used to say that to you?” Keith’s soft voice back at me.

My father.”

Your father called you useless?”

Yeah.

Had he really? Yes, he had.

Say it again. ‘My father said I’m useless.’ Good. It hurt you? Yeah. You can say that again, that’s riiiigth.”

Tess and Keith repeated what we said a lot. Just about every time a kid in my group said something, Jasper, Tess, or Keith was there to repeat it. This is how we always seemed to get roped into going deeper within ourselves.

Rituals involve teenagers verbally confronting themselves and each other.  Every detail of their life is invited to be shared as their overseeing handlers note them to use against the children later.  Rounded into groups, they are put through almost daily, mind bending sessions of unimaginable attacks as staff strategically controls the children into turning on one another.

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art by Jonathan Weiner, San Francisco, CA 2015

Zack describes session after session, as every part of the children’s emotions are controlled and manipulated.

Bianca, what do you remember about your mom? She used to have a name for you, too, didn’t she?”

I guess so.” Bianca Taylor picked up her cue from Tess.

Yeah. What was her favorite nickname for that beautiful little tyke? Can you remember for me?

She used to call me Rainbow...” Bianca started crying. I wanted to start crying from watching Bianca, who I’d never really even talked to. Seeing raw sadness like that felt like a punch to the solar plexus.

Toughen up.

The berating of kids is a carefully crafted tool.  Broken down into nothing, with their self-image lost and lacking any emotional worth, the children become easier for the staff to manipulate.  Using every piece of their fragile lives, the staff takes as many opportunities as possible to verbally abuse the children.

I can’t hear you, Bianca. A spoiled little bitch? Spoiled little bitch. LITTLE BITCH! Why did he call you that? That’s right, let me hear you.”

Go for it, Wally…GET IT OUT, PEOPLE. That’s RIGHT!”

A SLUT! Who said that to little Daphne? You really let that little girl down, didn’t you?

Yeah? When? After the abortion? Say that again, Narissa – you’ve got to stop being that girl with the reputation? Look at her!

Here’s some tissues, Bianca. Let it go.”

Catch terms such as “bans“, when children are forbidden to speak to one another, and “bad rapping“, children saying bad things about each other, are among a plethora of rituals used to manipulate the minds of vulnerable teenagers.  Meanwhile, the children are allowed to smoke cigarettes and other self-harming behaviors, geared to feed into their anxiety, which grows, the longer they are forced to remain inside of the program.

Bonnie’s writing style allows his reader to easily flow between what he is forced to witness happening to other children and the silent thoughts he is disallowed to ever let leave his lips lest there be intense punishment.  The children are trained to adhere to a system filled with mistrust and expected betrayal of one another.  They are strip searched upon admittance to the program.  They are heavily worked.  They are humiliated in front of one another.

Yet, even trapped inside such a sordid system of complicated tier goals, systematic punishments, humiliation and anger, Bonnie’s resilience becomes his counter weight as he journals.

“Guess what I went through my truth prophet August 9 & 10 and I found out that I basically I was a dick at home. I have been mulling it over in my mind and I know the point of raps and prophets.  Just to make you cry a lot so naturally being the way I am I didn’t cry. – Author journal entry, 11 August 1988 (one month at RMA)”

Through this writing, Bonnie brilliantly flows between descriptive enactment of the program and his attempt to retain a critical thinking mind.  Bonnie takes his reader’s hand and pulls them directly into the center of his deeply intense experiences.

Bonnie navigates the CEDU system until he can no longer withstand the thin line between the reality in his mind and the constant psychological belittlement he daily endures.  One day Bonnie decides to go on the run.  Will he make it out?

Dead, Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir” reveals the sadistic truth of the youth reform’s use of mental and physical abuse to control children.  Never has a book had an impact on my own teenage memories since I was a young person reading “Run, Baby, Run” by Nicky Cruz. The detail through which Bonnie brings his story to life is exceptionally mapped out.

Dead, Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir” is guaranteed to make you intensely feel. You will be outraged. You will ask why and how a human being can do such things to children. You will laugh, and you will cry. You will cheer for the incredible strength and courage Zack journeys into as he brings his teenage memories to life on the pages of this exceptional book.

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Zack Bonnie

Zack Bonnie is in the process of re-launching his website, complete with an audio-book of  DEAD, INSANE OR IN JAIL: A CEDU MEMOIR, which is available in paperback and e-book. Additionally, he is beginning the publishing submission process for the sequel, entitled: DIJ: OVERWRITTEN.   All of Zack’s work can be explored at his WEBSITE.

To subscribe and stay informed as Zack continues developing his literature, please sign up for his NEWSLETTER.  You may also follow Zack on Facebook and Twitter.

Personal Note: Sometimes a book is so well written, it sinks into the skin of a trauma survivor like me, who found incredible familiarity in the words I read.  This author touched my heart deeply when I met him. The ache in his eyes was familiar. The strength was admirable. The energy was filled with the passion for advocacy. So, dear Zack, please forgive my delay in this long overdue review of your book. I truly wanted to give you the honor you so rightly deserve. Love, Vennie Kocsis 

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show and her live Sunday broadcast Off the Cuff. She is an advocate, poet and artist

I Received a Beautiful Award!

Once a Victim Now a Survivor Award

Award

I’m really honored to be payed forward the “Once a Victim Now a Survivor Award“. Thank you so much, Darque Thoughts

I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my emotional vomiting. If one reader feels less alone, then all the retching is worth it. Thank you guys!

I was asked these five questions as a part of this award and have passed this award forward to five more survivors below.

1. In what ways do you feel that blogging can help people with psychological trauma or mental illness?

Writing therapy is a great way to clear the mind. Instead of bottling up the pain, flashbacks, nightmares and myriad of emotions, we are able to give it to the virtual page. That is a great clearing for me. I call it “language letting”.

2. How has blogging helped you with your healing process or your personal journey?

Blogging has been both a great outlet for me to write my emotions, document my moments as well as connect with others who have experienced trauma and came out on the other side surviving, just like me.

3. When did you start your blog and what motivates you to write?

I’ve been blogging for a while. I started in the days of Live Journal, then to MySpace, and now, with WordPress, since 2012. WordPress has afforded me a great connection with like minds, and I happen to dig their mobile app. What motivates me to write the most is the knowing that I cannot hold all of this inside of me.  It’s constantly pushing it’s way out of my fingertips in some fashion, be it poetry, stories, essays or whatever else comes out. I don’t often blog for the sake of anyone else or with readers in mind. I write to get it out. If someone reads and relates, then that is a great added bonus. If no one reads, I got it out. Either way, I come out ahead.

4. If you could encourage other victims to become survivors what would you say to them?

Learn the skills of coping and soothing. Don’t try and erase the moments that feel overwhelming. Face them head on, and understand that it is okay to cry, to feel, to hurt, to grieve and to know that afterwards you’ll still be able to find that laughter; that some days are really awesome and others really fucking suck, yet what makes us survivors is that we come through. Reach out to others like you; who can understand your pain and don’t let your pain define who you are. You are in control now. Your abusers are no longer running the show. You get to choose what feels right and good for you. Lastly, never, ever, silently suffer for anyone.  Seriously, tell anyone who doesn’t have your best interest in mind, or who doesn’t care about your needs, to take a hike.  It is OKAY to say no now. 

5. Since you started writing, what has been your favorite or most positive personal accomplishment(s) and/or achievement(s) in the “blogging world”?

My greatest personal writing accomplishment is my novel, Cult Child. I’m equally proud of the other publications I’ve published. My favorite moments are always, without a doubt, when someone tells me they’ve read something I’ve written and it made them know they’re not alone. That is the beautiful side of this internet blogging world. Knowing I have touched a heart is very rewarding. Sharing our trauma experiences is an intricate part of our healing process.

Aside from the one who payed this Award forward, here are five amazing survivors I read; who make me feel understood and whom I believe are equal candidates for this Survivor Award.

1. Refractory Ramblings From the Darkside
2. The Not-So Secret Life Of a Manic Depressant
3. Leaving Fundamentalism
4. Healing From Complex Trauma and PTSD/CPTSD
5. Survivorship – for survivors of ritualistic abuse
You may pass this Award forward. Below are the four steps to do so.

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
2. Nominate your own bloggers to pass the award to
3. Post the 5 questions below for your nominees to answer (also answer them yourself)
4. Inform your nominees and post a comment in their blog to let them know they’ve been nominated

The questions:

1. In what ways do you feel that blogging can help people with psychological trauma or mental illness?

2. How has blogging helped you with your healing process or your personal journey?

3. When did you start your blog and what motivates you to write?

4. If you could encourage other victims to become survivors what would you say to them?

5. Since you started writing, what has been your favourite or most positive personal accomplishment(s) and/or achievement(s) in the “blogging world”?

Paying forward our Survivorship is a wonderfully uplifting circle. Thank you again, Darque!