As I have lived my own survivorship and spent the last few years deeply connecting with trauma survivors, I see three distinct phases of the journey.
Thriver (and for some, Advocacy/Warriorship)
I think one of the most difficult breaks in the healing process is moving from the victim to survivor state. The victim state of mind sees the downfall with everything in life. Solutions aren’t on their minds, they can only see everything bad in their world. Any solution offered, the victim stage will say they’ve already tried it or give a reason why it won’t work.
When I was in the victim stage, I recall having a fear that if I healed, I would have nothing to spawn my creativity. I was so incredibly wrong. As I have healed I have created so much more and so many amazing things. The fear was a farce.
The Survivor stage includes a mindset of knowing we have survived and believing we can still survive. Survivor stage is a small exhale and sometimes the longest stage as we are learning strengthening and practicing wellness and self love. In the survivor stage we face our anger, fear, hurt and deep pains. This stage is a boundary setting stage and a period of strengthening our minds. In the survivor stage we are starting to see the world around us as a place of possibility. We are embracing our ability to heal and determined to do so.
The step from survivor to Thriver is a smaller one. When we reach the state of thriving we have come into a place where we have embraced that our past is actually the past and we don’t have to live there now. In the Thriver stage we don’t see obstacles, but instead, opportunity. As Thrivers we take our horrible situations and tend to barrel through them because we realize that all things do pass. We tend to write out and create through our moments of pain instead of projecting them on others or drowning in them. We have no issues enacting our boundaries and don’t care who gets mad about it, as we understand our right to put ourselves first.
In Thriver stage we are empowered to know that healing doesn’t mean we don’t still have impairments from our abuse, but that we can absolutely get through it. We don’t have to stay in it. As Thrivers we embrace that our thoughts will set a course for our days and we learn that positive perspectives and energy will change and often make rectifying problems much easier when our thoughts are rooted in solutions, acceptance and great possibilities. We accept moments and people as they are. We aren’t as easily offended. We learn to be and let be. We fight for things that matter and let inconsequential situations fall by the wayside.
For those in differing stages of healing, please know that it can take years to get through these processes. Please be patient with yourself. When you take the step out of victimhood into survivorship, congratulate yourself!! That is a MASSIVE step!
I used the processes that I introduced in my interactive journal “Becoming Gratitude”, to move from feeling like a victim, to feeling the success of changing my world view and the perspective of my own existence and surroundings. It absolutely re-wired my brain for the better, in just a short five minutes a day.
Another amazing book that, if the writing processes in it are followed, will help a survivor really begin to embrace their emotion freedom is “PTSD: Time To Heal.” When I found this book I was ecstatic. It confirmed to me that all the handwriting processes I had done were absolutely on point. Handwriting our pain is not only crucial, but the absolute best process to follow, as the brain must slow down to process through our pen. This book gets into the physiology of why handwriting trauma is a crucial part of the healing journey. You do NOT have to be a prolific writer or speller to do this work. You just have to actually DO the tasks!
Processing trauma isn’t easy. Neither is holding it inside. To be afraid of healing is akin to willingly drowning. Two major components exist in the survivor stage.
1. Being willing to do the work, WANTING to do it and reveling in moving towards being a Thriver.
2. Accepting and creating solutions and boundaries.
I believe every victim can become a Thriver. It is simply a matter of choosing to do the work that brings us there. I was sick of being in pain all of the time and tired of only seeing the negatives in my life. I grasped onto gratitude like a lifeline, and it absolutely changed my world view in just a few short weeks.
I hope you will give yourself the gift of healing. You deserve it. You CAN do the work, and you will be so much stronger for your fight and your life! Being a Thriver has empowered me in so many ways. I believe in you.
Hymns from my childhood occasionally pop into my mind, sometimes replaying over and over, like a broken record. One mental trick I use to make repetitive mind music go away is to try and remember the end of the song. Normally by the time I’ve tried to remember the end of the song, it has disappeared from my mind.
After going through a personal situation a couple of weeks ago which opened up some old wounds, this happened with a song I had not remembered in over 20 years. I tried to use my “end of the song” method, but this song kept playing over and over and would not go away. These specific lyrics were the only ones playing repeatedly.
“This world is not my home. I’m just a passin’ through. If heaven’s not my home, then Lord what shall I do. The angel’s watchin’ me from heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
Suddenly, my mind took a completely different turn. I found myself actually wanting to look at the differing lyrics of the many songs I was taught to sing repetitively as a child.
“What in the hell kind of lyrics are these, really?” I thought. The lyrics suddenly felt vile and suicidal. I had an urge to examine each word for exactly what they are.
I had never broken down gospel lyrics on a deep level like my mind was now doing. I had always blown them off with an eye roll.
In my teenage years, my older sister and I would get through church by adding “under the covers” at the end of the hymn titles and snickering quietly together. We had been taught about back-masking in secular music while growing up in a cult. For example, we were told that “Another One Bites the Dust” held a subliminal message telling us to smoke marijuana, but it could only be heard if the record was spun backwards. Also, they TOLD us what we “should” hear; literally gave us the sentence then asked, “Did you all hear it?” Well, now we do! That’s called suggestion. When suggestion is used on the mind, of course we hear and see what we are told we are supposed to hear and see.
Now that my mind is free from falling prey to suggestive phrases, I recognize them more.
So then, I recognized that something was terribly off with these lyrics going through my head. What were they suggesting? Christianity teaches that suicide is a sin. Here are seven different accounts of suicide in the Bible. Yet, this song is telling me that Earth is not really my home. I’m just passing through here, and that I shouldn’t feel at home in this world.
That was exactly how I felt when I was struggling with suicidal ideation. Now, I was hearing these same phrases in a gospel song as if it was okay to leave this world and even feel joyful about it.
How did this affect me as a child repeatedly singing these lyrics? What did it do to my mind in regard to my thoughts and feelings about death?
Hence, I set off on an exploration to find out how many gospel lyrics hold suicidal suggestions. What a confusing childhood, hearing and singing songs containing subliminal messages about sacrifice and suicide. At the same time, this religion was teaching me that suicide was a sin; a guaranteed ticket to hell.
Now, with clearer eyes, I was seeing the root in the mindset of why many humans might suffer with not wanting to live. How many of us grew up religious and abused and/or neglected based off this type of doctrine? How many of us sang these songs as children, day after day, year after year, sinking them into our subconscious, to live there, even if we felt we had deprogrammed religion but still struggled emotionally?
When I was feeling suicidal years ago, I had a meditative moment while taking a bath one evening. A voice audibly whispered in my head.
“Suicide is simply a program that was implanted into your cellular system by your abusers and the trauma you endured every day.”
I sat straight up in the bathtub. I had never looked at suicide as a mind control thought pattern infused by abuse. After this realization that I had actually been programmed to not want to live, I never struggled with suicidal thoughts again. My love for this life and its amazing possibilities grew inside of me. My refusal to allow my abusers to win created in me a mighty storm.
Shai Linne is a modern day gospel artist who gears his music toward the younger generation, teenagers and young adults. He has a gospel album entitled “13 Letters“. It has a spoken intro:
“Uh, soli Deo gloria, (Glory to God alone) uh. Once again. Thirteen letters! Yeah.”
We will focus on only one part of these lyrics: “Thirteen letters!“
We most often see it represented on the backs of the American dollar bill. There are 13 stars above the head of the eagle.
The Last Supper took place on the 13th day of the month, and the crucifixion occurred on Friday the 13th. The Knight’s Templar, protectors of the Holy Grail, the cup Jesus allegedly drank from at The Last Supper, were all slaughtered, on order from Pope Clement, on, yes, Friday the 13th. Judas was allegedly the 13th person to take his seat at the table during The Last Supper. Matthew says that Judas committed suicide after the crucifixion.
In a non-religious context, the number 13 was recently used in a suicide show entitled “13 Reasons Why“.
“How Great Thou Art” is a popular hymn that has been sung in churches for centuries. Children sing these lyrics.
“And when I think of God, His Son not sparing Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing He bled and died to take away my sin.”
In this song, the mind is subliminally being taught that without sacrifice, the individual is a sinful human being. Repetitively singing lyrics which instruct gratefulness that an invisible being horrifically sacrificed their own son on behalf of the individual, drives the point home. The individual no longer can deduct that this is, for instance, murder, and punishable by law. Instead the individual praises it.
Believing someone was murdered so that they could live, creates a deep wound of guilt in a person if they question or begin to reason the truth behind this. Instead, the repetitive program keeps them believing they have a responsibility to honor the human sacrifice that was the crucifixion of a man named Jesus.
The popular hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, ends with this line:
“Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!”
Another popular hymn, Amazing Grace, ends with this lyric:
“When we’ve been there ten thousand years Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we’ve first begun.”
The key to these songs is the number 10,000.
The number 10000 is used 45 times in the Bible.
Saint Paul said to Corinthians: “for even though you might have 10000 slaves to look after you in Christ, you still have no more than one father”. (1 Co 4,15)
In this verse, Christian followers are referred to as slaves.
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne . . . : and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands. [Revelation 5:11]
Indeed, ten thousand times ten thousand angels, which equals 100 million, symbolizes a great number. To sum up, there are numberless concourses of angels, an innumerable company of angels, and hosts of angels—all of whom are allegedly in the service of a God who requires humans should join this army as well.
Ten thousand guardian angels escorted Mary and Joseph during their trip to Bethlehem, for the birth of the Word, according to the visions of Catholic mystic Mary Agreda.
For the Chinese and the Mongols, the swastika cross (sign of salvation in their ceremonies) means the 10000 truths which concern the mysteries of the Invisible Universe, the Primordial Cosmogony, of the Theogony. It symbolizes the movement, the energy, the forward walking.
Hitler, inverting its orientation, used it as emblem of the Nazism.
“The Tao has fathered one, one has fathered a two, two has fathered three and three has fathered ten thousand“, wrote Lao-Tseu.
The song “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” ends with the following line:
“Soon in glory bright, unclouded, There will be no need for prayer— Rapture, praise, and endless worship Will be our sweet portion there.”
The word that is most important to look at is Rapture. What is the Rapture? According to North American Christianity, the rapture is the transporting of believers to heaven at the Second Coming of Christ. In regard to children, the Rapture is rarely talked about in detail. Children are likely to ask these questions:
When will the rapture happen? We don’t know Is it going to hurt? No, Sweetie! Do we fly into the sky? Yes. We will be taken up into the clouds.
At an extremely suggestible age, under five years old, when the mind is open to absorb deep into the subconscious, children are shown pictures of humans ascending up into open clouds. When these children grow into adults, they have been so programmed that humans will fly this way, that even as adults, they are unable to critically think into the scientific impossibility of this phenomena.
Likewise, they cannot logically break down the fact that the Rapture has been being promised to humans by other humans for thousands of years and has never happened. This is a very deep form of “death” programming when directed at a child, that at any moment of their life, a god could take them, but it will be a wonderful and painless death.
A child often adopts the adult’s “joy” as a way to comply and cope with the ideal, however, they rarely feel excitement at the prospect of death, even if there is some kind of heaven promised afterward. Don’t underestimate children. I knew very well as a child that the rapture concept equaled death for me.
As children we cannot turn the idea of heaven into a tangible visual which we can see. We can only imagine what is suggested to us. This description of pearly gates and golden floors does not enter our minds when we are children pondering the death which comes with rapture ideology.
One of the most popular religious songs children are taught to sing is “Jesus Loves Me“. The last line of this song says:
“Jesus loves me! He will stay Close beside me all the way; Thou hast bled and died for me, I will henceforth live for Thee.”
Again, we see the reference to human sacrifice. The child is being taught that they should live only for a god, because this god did a very special thing for all humans. It instructed its own son to die for them. These lyrics anchor the belief that a very special human bled to death, something a child often sees on television or the internet as a traumatic visual that they understand from a pain and suffering perspective. Children are literal and will see it as such, regardless of the way a parent may try and sugar coat the bloody sacrifice of a super human named Jesus.
Have you heard the song “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down In My Heart?” Let’s look at the last line of this song:
“I’ve got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus down in my heart. I’ve got that opposition to conscription down in my heart.”
Conscription is a noun meaning “compulsory enlistment for state service, typically into the armed forces.” This religious song teaches children and adult citizens of our country that they must have opposition to the armed forces. A child is a human who has rights to grow up and freely make this decision. It should be a violation of their human rights to strip their minds of future career choice possibilities.
Children sing this lyric, most likely never being taught the meaning of this word. Evangelical religions such as Jehovah’s Witnesses or Sam Fife’s Move of God, for instance, have a history of teaching against joining the military and/or going to war for any other reason except God.
Cult leader, Jim Jones, used a children’s choir in his People’s Temple, to welcome new members.
Another interesting concept religion teaches, whether actively or by way of reading the Bible, is that Christians are descendants of a man named Abraham.
One song that is popular in this concept is “Father Abraham“.
“Father Abraham had many sons Many sons had Father Abraham I am one of them and so are you So let’s all praise the Lord.”
The origins of Father Abraham begins in the history of the Jewish people in Bronze Age times in the Middle East when God promised a nomad leader called Abram that he would be the father of a great people if he did as God told him. Jews regard Abraham (as he was later called) as the first Patriarch of the Jewish people. Abraham appears in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Let your mind absorb that for a moment. These religions of separatism are actually quite linear in their history and belief. Yet, so many of them are killing one another. All three of these religions teach their children they are descendants of the same man. Which one is the real one?
Here, a child is shoved into subconscious confusion and an automation of trying to figure out or come into compliant acceptance that they are here as Christians to fight WITH the Jews because of this lineage or they are to fight AGAINST them and ALWAYS against the Muslims.
Outside of the Bible, there is no “family tree” lineage proof that all humans are descendants of a man named Abraham. If, in fact, all humans descend from Abraham, the dissection through religion would be the largest example of a dysfunctional family on a global scale.
“God is love. O God, a man You became; A cursed man to be, God, You died for me. Lord, You hung from a tree.”
It is fair to deduct, after researching the many lawsuits against secular music due to lyrics, that religious music is not exempt from having self-deprecating lyrics which dissect a mind’s ability to build its own independent self esteem and trauma free thinking. Singing songs about humans being hung from trees is another form of tonal death training.
Finally, I leave you with the platoon-like cadence that children are taught to sing, while being taught body motions to go along with the programming of being a part of an army for a god.
“I’m In the Lord’s Army“
“I may never march in the Infantry, (march) Ride in the cavalry, (pretend you’re riding a horse) Shoot the artillery. (clap hands together) I may never zoom o’er the enemy, (spread arms out and pretend to be a plane) But I’m in the Lord’s Army. (point one finger up to God) I’m in the Lord’s Army, (yes, sir!) (salute) I’m in the Lord’s Army, (yes, sir!) I may never march in the Infantry, Ride in the cavalry, Shoot the artillery. I may never zoom o’er the enemy, But I’m in the Lord’s Army, (yes, sir!)”
A human’s mind is a complex organ. Everything that it absorbs from birth, and through life, forms the way the human will develop. The subconscious mind is constantly running behind the scenes. It is holding everything it has absorbed since the day it entered this dimension. We can look at scientific studies of how music affects the fetus to understand deeper the importance of choosing tones and lyrics carefully, in a way which fosters a subconscious which is soaking in peaceful, calm and self-loving infusing.
In all, stay aware of your mind and what you allow it to be absorb. Guard your children and be selective of what they are exposed to as they grow. Allow them the freedom to explore the world safely, and may you explore this world safely as well.
I spent the last couple of evenings sifting through CDs of writing going back almost 15 years. This poem was written in 2005. It really took me back to the cusp of my pain. In those days when I felt deeply haunted, poetry was my soul’s literary life saver.
Do You Want To Know Why I Won’t Let You Get Close? [circa 2005]
You want to know why I wont let you get close?
Because the last one I chose
Made me cry.
That is why.
You want to know why when you speak of love I run?
Because this is what I’ve become
Torn by pain
Dying in the rain.
Do you know why I am hardened and disenchanted?
Promises are always recanted
Broken and discarded
Cannot finish what is started.
This is the aftermath of fires that become ashes,
Of personality clashes,
Of unwillingness to change
And the attempt to put on chains.
I sleep alone with my fear in the night.
No beams in my window from the moonlight.
Stop smiling at me in the way.
I hear you, yet you have nothing to say.
Bitter growls disguised as precious words,
But you represent to me silent hurt.
You want to know why I’m turning my back?
I cannot view the qualities you lack.
A part of the common population
Do not ask me anymore questions.
This is the meaning of rejection.
I say no, you ask why,
And then I cry.
There are ghosts in my view. I am traveling hallways. We are coming back for you. Your breath quickens as you wait. Will your heart give in to the ache; the secrets you hold? They rot your insides, you know.
We are your shadow self.
Every deed, word, blow and theft of innocence lurks inside the remnants of your biological cells. You never considered that hell would come from those you desecrated.
When we come, we are a pack without a leader.
We have no need to follow, holding hands side by side, we yell, “Red Rover, Red Rover, come on over!”, and we smile. You taught us to rip at each other’s wrists, remember? Danger as an entertainer. That was your pleasure.
There were the games we played in secret, away from your judging eyes, sneaking moments with quiet giggles. We reserved our spirits from your shattering, scattering into life, struggling through its mores as we held ourselves in fetal positions to survive. Now, we rise.
We have gathered the ashes of our pasts, reconstructed our wings, and we are prepared to fly.
We are the children of your terror. We are the outcasts and sinners, scar bearers and wayward waifs. We are the tattooed tyrants, birthed from your horror, walking our own paths against your wrath. We color our hair bright. We carry ourselves Light. We know each step with precision as we enter this fight.
We are not mercy. We are strength. We are not bitterness. We are valiance.
We are turning your worlds inside out, releasing the doubt you preach from pulpits and podiums and classrooms to children and vulnerable humans. We are Dragons, gathering in the night.
We have been watching you a very long time. You see, you taught us well, but you failed to keep the tide from turning. Now we take everything you forced us to absorb, the intel and verbal hell, battered bones and dissociated minds, childhoods left behind, never to be relived, and create a mighty hurricane, gathering speed every time another survivor speaks their abuser’s name.
We release shame. It is not ours. It belongs to you. Your time to be burdened with your own deeds is long overdue.
I am a lurker in the darkness, mystic of the floated corners where the view is clear up here. I see the past and futures merging. I see the sadness and the pain purging. I feel every heart hurting, from the wicked to the wounded and my eyes can only focus on the cries of the affected, injected by decades of apathetic sociopathy using human flesh in the deadliest fashions.
For those who have a passion for hurting others, it is you I watch, even those who cloak themselves in the mask of mirrored goodness. We are keenly keeping our eyes focused. We are passed hoping. We are ready for war. Are you? How fast will your knees buckle when the first blows come? How long before your run?
No more will we be ruled, organized or contained. No more will we remain silent or compliant.
Associations and organizations meant to capitalize on those who’ve almost died inside and outside are crumbling at their feet. Too long you have preyed on the weak. Your time has come to an end, and no matter how much you pretend, keeping an illusion of control, you are quickly slipping into a sinkhole.
Even as your wrinkled fingers hold the purse strings, we sing.
Even as you watch us still, spinning tales of the ones who tell truths on you, we laugh as your ropes fray. It is your day. Your reckoning has arrived. We have been released from the hive, a swarm, marching with precision. Welcome to your new religion.
One must wonder about the abusive adult whose mind is so oblivious it cannot rationalize, that what you forced us to internalize would return to watch you burn. Yet, into the flames you will run, because the thought of combusting will feel less painful than the torture we will enact. Every item accounted for. Every brick will be removed. Each stone you drove home to build your wall will fall, and in the end what will be left, are more humans, free from your invisible chains, living in happiness.
For now, you shake beneath the hands of a mighty earthquake. In this surge, graves are unearthed and after years of holding still, we now run swiftly, legs strong, to destroy the villainous ones.
You will relax, forget to watch your back, and we will attack, because you deserve to be fought. You deserve to be tested with unrest.
I moved this weekend. It has been a challenging transition, as I have had to go through an arduous process for acceptance into my new residence. I was down to the wire with my time window. My anxiety was peaking. I didn’t have a way to have a back up plan for my plan. I had to contend with myself. So, I moved through the process in the following ways.
Tip One: Acceptance
Accept that whatever situation you are in is, in fact, an anxiety causing situation. Don’t deny yourself that truth. Don’t feel ashamed about feeling anxious. Everyone was telling me that it would all be okay. They were right. It was. Yet, in that moment that it was NOT alright, I had no guarantee that it would be. So, I just said “Yeah, you’re right, it’ll be okay.” But I didn’t mean it. Inside I was very anxious.
So, I accepted that yes, this was a stressful situation, and my feelings of worry were valid. Things weren’t set in stone yet. That’s an unsteady feeling for anyone, much less a trauma survivor. My first step of dealing with the transition was to accept that it absolutely was a valid situation to feel anxiousness over. I did not war against this emotion in me.
A step beyond acceptance is radical acceptance. This is when I have accepted that there is nothing I can do to change the current situation. It is in this moment that I breathe a lot. I stay very inward focused on my physical body. I stay aware of tenseness in my muscles, a sign my agitation might be growing. I listen to my heartbeat. I pay attention to my physical feelings as well as my emotions.
Tip Two: Self Soothing
It is great to have people we can vent our worry out with. Yet, I find that most often, doing so can cause my anxiety to rise. For me, the act of too much discussing of my worry and anxiety is almost a fueling of it at times; especially if it’s not a solution based anxiety, meaning there is no specific solution. Only patience is the answer. Now I must carry myself through this act.
During self soothing I focus on my thoughts. I avoid negative thinking like:
Nothing ever goes right for me
It’s probably all going to fall through
Do I pack?
This is too much chaos!
I’m freaking out!
Instead, I live and think as if it is already happening. I packed. I imagined myself in my new space. I jumped on Pinterest and looked at some ideas for my new space. I envisioned the pallet I was going to create. I imagined my art in the walls. I saw myself finishing the sequel to Cult Child and making more art with new surroundings and inspiration.
I had a message telling me for sure I was approved, just a few signatures needed to be finalized. I just didn’t want to have to be left with just two days to move everything. I knew the many trips and hauling in a short time would leave me sore. I knew this was the root of my anxiety. So, I sat with that. I asked myself.
What is the worst that can happen? Sore muscles and back? I listed the ways I would soothe; baths, resting, laying down, hydrating, taking it easy unpacking. I focused myself away from the worry of being left to move in a short time to the fact that even if I get sore and exhausted, it passes and life continues on. I thought about how lucky I am to have a great friend and family to help me.
When I was a child, I wasn’t held when I worried or cried. I didn’t have anyone to tell me that it’s going to be okay! So I can forget to reassure myself.
I radically accepted that this transition was not going to go exactly how I wished it to go. I accepted that I would survive moving with IT, instead of it moving with ME. I breathed and said okay, I’m stepping into this change. I left complaining behind for reveling in the joy of a transition I’ve been waiting a very long time to make.
Tip Three: Celebrating!
When the change is over, absolutely do NOT forget to celebrate yourself. Not in a, collapse on the couch and and say “whew, I got through THAT!” kind of celebrating. No. Take time to sit and really revel in every moment when you wavered and worried and kept going. Laugh with it. Tell yourself, damn I’m amazing. What seems like a small step to some is a major step for us. We deserve to celebrate.
Order some take out if it’s been a while. Buy a new shirt; go Goodwill hunting. Write about it. Make something new as a gift to yourself. Something. Anything. Pause to take a moment and really truly celebrate that you got through that thing you worried so much about.
When I was a little girl, no one ever said, “Good job! Wow!” I wasn’t asked about my hopes and dreams. I wasn’t told I was exceptional in any way. Because of this, I can forget that it is okay to humbly celebrate myself.
How we trauma survivors are able to move through change, or sudden change, is centered within the confounds of our own thoughts. We learn the art of self mindfulness and awareness. We learn to put our needs first in a way which keeps us healthy.
Acceptance. Soothing. Celebrating.
Remember that it is perfectly acceptable to take care of you. Do not shun yourself. Love yourself.
I soothed myself through my transition. Now, as I write this, I am peacefully soaking in my new living room view and the beauty of my city.