Five Ways To Maintain Your Critical Thinking During Socially Triggering Times

1. STAY MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU WATCH/READ IN REGARD TO NEWS

I wouldn’t watch the news these days without a pen and a piece of paper in hand. Why? I’d need to take notes as to what is being presented TO ME. There are two phrases that make me shut down immediately toward a journalist who has taken upon themselves the ethical responsibility to investigate and report facts about important situations, doing so SEPARATE from their own personal opinions or thoughts on the subject. “Just the facts, please.”

The two phrases that make me turn it off, turn the page or click that X in the top right hand corner are:

“I think…”
“My opinion is…”

This is not journalism. These are opinion voices.

I don’t care about a journalist’s opinion. Again, “Just the facts, please, along with fact checking to back it up would be nice.” I can form my own conclusions from facts.

Listen very carefully to what is being said by news anchors about what is happening in the world and your country. There is a side of NLP called Dark NLP. It is a neurolinguistic programming used from a negative angle to control your mind, the way you think, react and feel about a subject. NLP existed long before the trend of using it as a “therapy” tool. NLP originated in the 1950’s and soon became a very handy tool of the CIA.

How CIA and Secret Agents Make Use Of NLP

Dark NLP is language purposefully used to skew your mind. It is filled with specific words and body language strategically inserted into information that is being fed to you visually and audibly.

A very simple example of the use of NLP by media is dropping name brands into music. Not only does the name brand pay for the artist to promote their brand, but the listener now feels a deep desire to buy and boast the brand in order to be “cool” like their peers/fans of the artist. That is a win/win for the music industry and the brand. Below is an exploration of the use of mind control techniques in music.

A Look At Music and Mind Control

What is happening to your mind when you are engrossed with a speaker in all ways, from their verbal to non verbal language and the speaker is telling you possible falsehoods as if they are truths? Will you be able to spot signals of things you do not want sinking into your subconscious mind? If not, this video may give you a little kick-start into how you are fed repetitive sequences of information. This video is posted only for the purpose of showing you identical speech patterns through multiple news outlets across the United States.

News and NLP:

In NLP the meaning of any communication is the response that you get.” David Snyder

NLP is not only verbal. It is also visual. Hand motions, facial expressions and body language is a science that is known to influence the average person’s mind even in observatory conversation. Mirroring is taught at sales seminars, where salespeople train to watch their consumer’s behavior and listen to their conversation so the salesperson can behave like them and seal the deal. This results in the sales target becoming comfortable enough to buy. It is rampantly used by politicians, pastors, self-help gurus and corporations around the world.

Peter Bull, from the Department of Psychology at the University of York, studied the use of hand gestures in political speeches. He includes some case studies in this fascinating abstract:

The Use of Hand Gestures In Political Speeches: Some Case Studies

Mega-church pastor, Joel Osteen is one example of someone who uses both verbal and non-verbal NLP.  These are techniques taught in pastoral schools. Learn them and become adept at spotting them. Joel’s most popular non-verbal gestures:

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Joel Osteen using NLP to avoid questions and respond in a form of crazy making conversation in this interview with Larry King.  It is important to listen to vocal tone, when his voice goes soft, such as when he says “they love God”.  These are very subtle ways of creating an ebb and flow in a person’s emotions.

The Forbidden Knowledge Archive is an interesting 49-page thesis which explores the many facets of the uses of NLP.  As with all information I share, I in turn urge you to do your own study, dive in, find and read information for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Lets face it. The news is meant to make you feel like shit. The world is ending. Everyone’s at war. A race war is coming. A civil war is coming. The economy is crashing. The list of fear-based information goes on and on. The commercials inserted between this continual rocking of your minds, not just in news, but in mainstream media in general, is a consistent up and down of humorous commercials meant to pacify you, coupled with brand based pieces geared to make you have buying urges, or fear based programming commercials such as, “if you have [this grave disease] you need this [pill] which will also cause another [grave disease], but there’s a [pill] for that” and so on.

Do you ever ask yourself where the positive mainstream news channels are? Have you ever asked yourself why there isn’t at least one mainstream channel in your community which reports only on the great things which happened in your area during the day? It’s because that won’t leave you in trauma, and that is an ultimate media agenda, to create and blast multiple traumatic scenarios at you every day, resulting in filling you up with fear and anger.

Real-time Murder Shows
Lifetime Murder Movie of the Week
Dramatic Reality Shows
Craziest Police Chases
Cops

The list of shows and news outlets which have increased over the decades is extremely long and disconcerting when it comes to the way media can make a person panic that the world is self-destructing, causing them to turn on one another, have increased social anxieties or severe isolation. Stay very keen if you choose to let yourself be subjected to mainstream media.

If fear is not the media’s agenda, then the public would simply be watching more positive media than fear-based media.

2. WRITE DOWN THE FACTS AND MISSING PIECES AS YOU HEAR THEM AND TAKE THE TIME TO CRITICALLY CHECK THEM

Remember that pen and paper I mentioned before? This is where it comes in handy. When you are watching, listening or reading the news, use mindful thinking. Listen to all versions of the story while writing down what you would consider facts.

How do you equate facts? I look at what would stand up in a court of law. I look for holes in the story, and then I research that hole. I go inside of it. Is there a missing piece? Why? Where is it? What is off with this story?

The key here is to ask questions. Question Everything. In doing so, you will be able to equate the truth.

Is there evidence, even circumstantial, upon which a case could be built? Does the story hold weight? Is it a story built off of someone said something that someone said, or are there experiencers being showcased telling their personal stories? If a news story, for instance, is about certain regions of the world or social constructs, write down your questions.

Then take the time to connect with people in those regions or social constructs, and ask them the questions. They are your counter weight to global news. Citizens in your community are your counter weight to local news. Social media can be used as a very good information source if you actually TALK to people, not just watch one minute videos, believe it to be truth, and then pass it on as truth.

When things began to really get worse between Israel and Palestine over the last few years, I purposely sought out through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, average citizens like myself, who lived in these regions. I let them know I’m an American, and I want to understand their stance on this issue. I found out something very interesting. They all actually didn’t hate one another. They all wanted peace. They did not even express religious views about the conflict.

The patterned feedback I found in my conversations with people inside this conflict was that they all are just trying to live life, and were ALL most concerned about the peace and safety of their families. It convinced me that the issue is a political game and these people are simply collateral damage. This was never reported in American news, and undoubtedly never will. Yet, you could easily understand it by having simple conversations with the intent to listen and understand. You have access to people across the globe. Why aren’t you conversing with them?

I find there to be no excuse for individuals not having conversations that will help them understand the perspective of other individuals who are on the ground in certain situations. If you want to know what it’s like to live in poverty, talk to some poor people instead of watching the news. If you want to know about race relations, talk to people in your community. If you want to know about sexual abuse, talk to some survivors. If you want to know about cults, seek out those who grew up in them. If you want to understand politics, get into your community and see what is happening around you. What change would improve your community as a collective?

It hasn’t been hard for me to connect with people. If you are reading this, you are online. Therefore, it shouldn’t be hard for you either. What you must do, is the work. What you must do, is open your mind to the answers, and accept they may not match what you saw on the news. Accept that what you find may change your reality, and allow that to exist. It’s called growth and evolvement.

“If you heard it on the internet, it’s probably true.” Abraham Lincoln

 3. HAVE THE ABILITY TO HAVE A MULTI-PERSPECTIVE VIEW

The way I separate the “wheat from the chaff“, so to speak, is a combination of listening to my intuition and letting it work in sync with a mind clear of anyone’s influence, including my own. I look at information from all angles. I don’t immediately take sides. I investigate. Once I’ve done that and deducted the truth, then I make a decision if I want to take a stand, walk away or simply observe and hold space.

Take politics for instance. I make a point NOT to follow any one side. Why would I ever immerse myself into situations which are focused on being devise when I can move in an Independent arena, taking no sides, and instead, focusing on politicians working on issues which are important to me? I may support a politician on some things and not others and decide not to vote for them because what I don’t like overshadows what I do like and vice versa.

I’ve watched people shouting about the blue and red, and I realize what I’m observing is America’s re-play of the 90’s Crips and Bloods battles, only the politicians’ drive-by shootings are their disinformation and defaming of one another.

If it’s not okay for the streets, it’s certainly not okay for any institution which is ethically supposed to be committed to having the best interest of the people at heart.

If you can’t have a multi-perspective view, you may be looking at a situation from your own trauma foundation mindset. This can result in you projecting your own traumatic experiences into someone else’s situation. This is very self-deprecating behavior. Please don’t take on other people’s situations as your own. I talk with dozens of people about a myriad of things, from select friends in war torn countries to individuals in my own community who are struggling, to trauma survivors, veterans and more. While I care very much about their well being, I also keep my critical thinking intact and remember that their situations are not my situations. So I am able to listen, observe and not let it turn me into a triggered ball of tears. I do so on my terms and in my own time.

Being able to have a multi-perspective view will also help you see holes in stories, because you are using your critical thinking mind instead of running solely on emotion that is being projected from unresolved personal traumas. Gain the ability to look at a situation objectively over time. With keen eyes and an open mind, you can see the truth for exactly what it is, even if it goes against what you have been told you’re supposed to do/believe/be.

4. DON’T BE A FOLLOWER

One of the worst things a human can do is become a follower and stay complacent in that space. People become followers for many reasons. Some follow an institution or a cause because it makes them feel relevant.

For example, I know of anti-cult “experts” who claim to be know everything about Scientology if that’s what’s trending. Then they’ve moved now to knowing everything about Jehovah’s Witnesses, because that’s what’s trending. They will move on to whatever other new cult subject comes up when that starts trending. But they are NOT experts on these cults. They are people adept at trying to stay in the spotlight. This is not an intention rooted in having anyone’s best interest at heart. That is the behavior of a follower with an ulterior motive disguising themselves as a leader.

Someone with the motive to let truth be known and to help without needing recognition, for instance, would know there are dozens and dozens of Jehovah’s Witnesses on social media speaking out and would encourage the media to talk with the experiencers to get the truth. Understand the myriad of people with agendas that serve only them or their latest book. Research the people you are following. Read everything about them and get to know who they truly are. Talk to people who have had experiences with them and listen to their stories. As humans, we have an innate ability to know truth vs lies when we don’t deny that ability within ourselves.

Others follow because they’re terrified to stand alone. Some follow because they love the frenzy of being a part of a big crowd. While I believe in peaceful protest, there are some protests that have held so many people in frenzies, I think about how many individuals they could have helped if they had taken those plane tickets and hotel money and poured it together into a support fund.

The women’s march in Washington DC would be a good example of this. Almost a million women bought plane tickets to the 2017 march. They financially supported the airlines. They financially supported the vagina hat maker. They financially supported the hotels, hostels, motels and/or Air BnB’s they stayed in.  A million women spent almost 1000 dollars or more apiece to gather and protest.

Let’s do that math: 1,000,000 x 1000 = 1 BILLION dollars. Let me repeat that. 1 BILLION dollars.

How can a million women not take a billion dollars and actually create action to help one another, but they can organize to wear vagina hats and vie to be on the news? Why can’t the average American woman look at that with critical eyes and see how counter-productive that was in the larger scope of how those finances were used?

Would those same women have donated that money if that had been an option? I believe some of them would have, but I do not believe the majority of them would because that wasn’t their intention. Their intention was simply just to march and say they were there as if it was a political Woodstock. This is a follower mentality, in that they are not clearly thinking about the best plan of action for their agenda or the best plan of action for the finances they’re willing to invest into their cause.

Do you see the problem with American society here? I do. It’s action vs. attention. Attention, too often, wins.

Americans are used to protesting, but many are not used to doing on-the-ground work to actually help the causes they are so passionate about. Instead, they spend a few days worked into a frenzy and then head back home to continue on with their lives. Be careful of this behavior in yourself. Be willing to donate your money to help someone in your community in regard to causes you are passionate about. Make that money WORK with education and support. That will last someone a lifetime. Action changes lives.

Group think is a dangerous ground to tread on. It is a quicksand which often builds blinders around a human’s eyes so that the person can only see what the group wants them to see.

We must gain the ability to stand on our own two feet and stop following along after other people’s beliefs. We must re-tie the strand that connects us to our individuality and clear thinking. If we all look into our own lives and focus on PERSONAL change, this requires NO following at all. It simply requires work and motivation to be SO incredibly strong that no group nor gust of frenzy can shake you.

5. TAKE A BREAK, DAMMIT!

Turn those damn electronics off. Shut that computer down. Put that phone in the other room. Turn off the news notifications. It is OKAY to take a break. In fact, I beg you to take a break if you cannot clearly see the world outside of yourself with open eyes. If you’ve become one-sided about issues, you may want to ask yourself why? No issue is ever one sided. When in doubt, shut it down.

If you are being pushed into a personal negative mind space as a result of what you are seeing or hearing, give yourself a break.

Get into nature and take a walk. Turn on some music and dance. Bake something. Go play some pool. Go to a movie. Do anything except watch the news, read the news or deal with social networking. Clean up your feed. Un-follow anyone who you feel may be posting triggering opinions. I just went through a major social media cleanse on all of my networks. Now, when I sign in, I’m seeing who and what pertains to my passions. I have to tell you. It felt good.

You are ultimately in control of what you watch and what you take in. You are in control of when you turn it on or off. You are simply in control. The moment you believe you are not in control is most likely a signal that you need to take a break and re-ground yourself into your own reality so you can regain your inner balance.

Your reality is hopefully rooted in your own path; your own healing, your own growth and especially your own personal community. Inside of us is where true change begins; when we continue to promote healing and resist falling prey to fear frenzies, a very easily used mind control tool, given a wide open platform by the internet and media, we realize that beyond the trauma, beyond the social triggers, is a possibility for teaching moments and healing. This starts with the conversations we have with ourselves. our children, friends and family, and dedicating ourselves to a healing path.

So please, please, take a bubble bath (those aren’t just for chicks, by the way). Invite a friend over for dinner and a board or card game. Watch a funny movie alone. Clear your mind. Sit with a sunset, a sunrise or beneath a tree.

Take care of yourself and your mental health. We cannot carry the weight of the planet’s pain within us. Before you dive into anyone else’s trauma, make sure you are grounded into your own healthy reality.

She Was Raped. They Made Her Apologize To the Church. It Was 1984.

As I am working on writing the sequel to Cult Child, entitled Rise of Sila, I am again having moments of struggle, pain and even avoidance as I write out and re-live more child abuse memories.

Writing out traumatic memories is an intricate process. Telling someone a brief story of our experience is far different than the hours of detailing each ticking second of a memory. When writing, we must recall every possible sound, conversation, smell, surroundings and anything more we can remember, in order to write a book which allows our readers to be inside each experience with us.

As I am writing I understand how much I was never able to make sense of about growing up in Sam Fife’s Move of God cult; until I became a teenager. While my mother remained silent, my brother and sister did not. As I grew older, we had deep conversations, many questions were answered and peculiar situations happened to us which kept us bound together as siblings who, while not always getting along, each held pieces of our childhood shattering in a way that kept us feeling a base protectiveness of each other.

Many sad revelations came out in our conversations.

One explanation would come from my sister. I had a very convoluted understanding of love. I believed it quite normal for an adult man to be interested in teenagers and young girls, who after beginning our menstruated cycles, were now future wife material, able to breed children, future generations for the cult. It made biological sense to me, seeing as how I had been educated, not about sex, but about my duty as a female, which included mainly the honor of being chosen by a man and bearing his children, living for God and being a good wife.

Even worse were the predators like my sister’s rapist. He raped her under the guise of deep lies and promises of a rescue that she could not critically think through. He kept her in a state of hope and fear, a narcissistic criminal who preyed on an innocent and highly naive young girl. She could not deduct that he was married, had multiple children, and furthermore, she had no knowledge yet of what he had done to his own daughter. She was a victim of a very cunning and predatory man.

It would be in later years that I would find out the truth of what was done to my sister on multiple levels. A man named Buddy Cobb was the go to man for The Move of God for over 30 years after its founder, Sam Fife, died in a plane crash in 1979. When my sister was raped, Buddy Cobb flew to Alaska on one of the cult’s private airplanes specifically to “handle” the situation with my sister.

What Buddy Cobb did to my sister was nothing less than abhorrent.

We were sequestered into our cabin. I write about this in detail in Cult Child. They held Elders meetings to decide what to do about my sister. During this time, as a young teenager, I did not understand or have much of a clue about what was going on. No one explained anything to me. My sister would barely speak at all, staying curled up in the fetal position on her mattress in our cabin, usually facing the wall, telling me to leave her alone if I tried to talk to her.

The details of what happened to her will be told in Rise of Sila, but I will share a summary of the horrific shame she was put through. The final decision came down the line from Buddy Cobb. Not only were we to be expelled from the cult, but my sister was about to be forced to do something that no rape victim should ever endure. Decided by the Elders, under the leadership and advisement of Buddy Cobb, my sister was made to stand up in front of a congregation of over 200 adults.

She was forced to ask for their forgiveness. She was forced to confess that she was a Jezebel, a whore of Babylon.

No wickeder of a human could exist after someone as low as her, according to them. She was too much of a sinner to be rescued. She was such a slut, so vile, that it was more likely she would influence the other girls.  This wasn’t just a demon which could be cast out. No, she was truly a problem for the men on the cult.  She would more likely seduce man after man. For the record, my sister later went on to graduate college and be married to the same man for over 25 years, completely opposite what they predicted she would “be”, a girl who would never commit to one man. They were wrong.

With my brother having already run away, my teenage sister “seducing” grown men, me being “rebellious” and too non-compliant (argumentative), we just weren’t a family who was an asset to the cult any longer. With a “heavy heart”, Rick Alloe, my sister’s rapist, stood and confessed that he was weak and had allowed himself to be “seduced” by a teenage whore. They too were “exiled“, so we thought. We would later find out they merely migrated to live near another cult compound in the South, and their family would remain intertwined inside of this cult into the present times. One of the Alloe’s daughters, Debbie, married one of the original cult investors, a man named Doug McClain.

My mother and her best friend made my sister’s life hell. How could she do such a thing, destroy our families like that? Rick Alloe’s wife, Peggy, would never speak to my sister again. Post cult, when my mother and Peggy would talk on the phone, my sister would quietly exit the room.  At first I didn’t really pay it much mind, but as we grew closer, and as I learned more, I understood, and the abhorrence of these women with their cultish, deviant behavior grew stronger.

My older sister was raped and victim blamed in a cult. It was 1984. Now, the unearthing of sex abuse and religious child trafficking is blasting into the news and social media. This is not a new horror. No. It has existed for decades; centuries. Have we simply come into a time of reckoning through the adult victims and the release of technology?

There is no consolation for having been through the levels of child abuse we kids suffered. No amount of restitution would make the pain go away.

Yet, restitution is due the victims all the same. Criminals who quietly stood by, knowing abuse was happening, should be held to their day in court. While the descendants of these rapists and their silent, aiding and abetting leaders want to live comfortably, reserving a false memory of their ancestors, not wanting to face the truth of what their families did to us, we will not allow this hiding any longer.

Before Buddy Cobb’s death in 2017, his granddaughter, Angie, brilliantly pegged him on the abuse. She asks him the same questions in two different scenarios. He gives the same answers, that the abuse is just evil having its day, and nothing happens that is not God’s will. When I first saw this video, I dealt with nausea having to see this man’s face again. His face has haunted me my whole life; the darkness of his eyes; the wicked smile; the arrogance and lack of caring. As a sensory child, my memories of him are filled with avoiding being near him and a crawling of the skin at his presence. While I have struggled to remember many of the eyes of those who abused me, I always could remember Buddy’s eyes, hooded and piercing, seemingly mocking and daring one to cross him.

His children would like us to think that these were the answers of a man who was aged and suffering with Alzheimer’s. Knowing Alzheimer’s as I do, I say that all the more then, he was speaking the truth. One of his children tried to say that the granddaughter was under the influence when she filmed it.  I say even if she was, she still asked the question, and he still answered.  Twice.  In two different settings.

Maybe his mind had returned to what we children experienced and how they as adults handled it, shuffling pedophiles off from farm to farm, working us into exhaustion, beating children and blaming rape victims while protecting criminals. Broken bones and bruises? God’s will. Child rape? Just evil having its day. Regardless of any excuses being given in regard to this video, these responses are those of a man whose mind is extremely sadistic.  The look in his eyes and specific hand movements are psychologically revealing to me.

Buddy Cobb Hand Signal

There are no excuses to be given. There is nothing which can be said that will erase the truth of what was done to me, my siblings and dozens of other children in Sam Fife’s Move of God.

The church is being called to answer. No longer will we allow Christian ritual abuse to be slid under Satanism as if only Satan can be a wicked entity. If there is a God, loving, omnipotent and omniscient, I dare say, he is indeed, a sociopath entity who has fed children to his supposed fallen son, allowing evil to have its day, and that, my friends, according to the followers of the Bible, is simply God’s will.

Christians no longer get to say that this is not “true” Christianity. Yes it is. That is akin to saying a dictionary is not a real dictionary. The Bible is a book. There is no changing it’s existence. There is no changing the horror stories it holds or the sick mind control enacted based on its teaching.

Until humans wake themselves up to what has been done to their minds; to their judgment and sick moralistic ties to a book based out of blood sacrifices, incest, cannibalism (communion), exorcism and child sacrifice, I fear there will be no reprise for children continually born into the generational curse of religions. The after affects of being raised in such arenas leave adults with anxiety, depressions, low self esteem, false senses of wholeness and often a sadistic deviance in regard to children.

No longer will we blame victims for what has been done to them.  No longer will we divert the issue of CRIMINALITY into an issue of religiosity.

As human beings, we have a responsibility to stop allowing adults to treat children like my sister was treated.  Young minds are malleable and often naive. The church must be held to their cross for the foundation they have built which has allowed for this apathetic mindset to exist. The church must be held accountable for the deviance their morality concepts has created; concepts built out of stripping humans from their innate right to be free, think free and not be harmed.

No child is ever responsible for their abuse. There is nothing they can wear, say, do, think, or breathe which ever makes them the blame. There are only wicked adults attempting to hide from accountability.

I See You

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Liz Ianelli

I met her online, but I feel like I have known her forever. We have conversations like sisters, laughing and saying whatever we want.  We understand each other’s brash language and sarcastic thinking.  I feel so happy to have this connection.  Child abuse survivors understand other child abuse survivors.  We have our own way of conversing.  We joke about off color things. We find the macabre fascinating and nerd out on unexpected subjects.

Liz Ianelli was sent away as a teenager.  For 993 days she suffered.  Now, she rises out of the ashes to speak for those who cannot.  Liz sat down with me and shared her story on my radio show, Survivor Voices Show.

Click below to listen:

Liz’s story and incredible artwork was recently featured in ICSA Today’s 2017 Fall Quarterly Journal. After over 80 deaths of her fellow survivors, many of them suicides, Liz decided to begin the #ISeeYou campaign to inspire others and let them know they are not alone in their struggle. She rallied up her fellow survivors to make videos sharing their stories and what we deal with on a day to day basis as a result of being abused. Soon, survivors were sharing their stories. Liz hopes to continue rallying survivors, asking them to make videos as they feel comfortable.

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.

Five Tips For Surviving Holiday Gatherings

Let’s face it, for many people the holiday season is a reminder of past and current emotional and/or physical abuse, missing family members, the gathering together of dysfunctional family, even abusers, alcohol consumption and more.

So, how does one get through a day which may possibly have to be spent surrounded by dysfunctional behaviors?

1. Remember that other people’s behaviors are not yours. If it becomes projected toward you, you get to get up and walk away. You get to gather your brood and keys, respectfully say your goodbyes and simply leave. On this day, and every day, you have the right to self preserve and exit from toxic environments. If you feel you may end up in an abusive encounter, arrange a way to be able to leave as soon as you can.

2. We live in an age of pressure. We worry over judgment and backlash. Not attending a family function can create an arena of hurt. We don’t want the family to be upset at us. We don’t want to have to rehash grudges still being held against us. We don’t want to experience any new wounds. Remember that your peace of mind belongs to you. If you feel it is safer for you not to attend, then you don’t have to. If you do decide to attend gatherings though, for yourself, focus on any moments of positive laughter and conversation.  Focus on the familial connections which feel positive for you.

3. If you encounter triggers such as passive aggressive comments made toward you, skewed stories told that are meant to make you feel bad or humiliated or other audio invasions such as high noise levels, remember to use some grounding tools. Have headphones with you to temporarily block out the noise and negative conversation. Not only does it silently make the statement that you are unwilling to participate in toxicity, it also allows you a temporary mental escape as you listen to soothing music on your phone. If you feel yourself dissociating, silently name five red, green, white or black items in the room. Grab some ice water. Run your hand over the couch material or a solid object beside you, focusing in on its texture in your mind to bring you present into the room . If there are children around ask one of them if they want to play catch. Toss a stuffie or ball or any small item back and forth with them. These tools can all help to bring you back into the present.

4. Stay sober. Try not to drink in an attempt to relax. Keep your mind aware and focused. Concentrate on breathing. Visualize a protective barrier between you and those who you are not comfortable being around.

5. Set a time limit on your visit, and have an exit strategy. If three hours is all you feel you can handle, then try and time your visit so that the family meal is starting and wrapping up within your time frame. Be okay with taking a “to go” plate to enjoy later when you are back in your own safe space.

In essence, please remember to not be guilted into placing yourself in anxious or stressful familial situations. Even if your family doesn’t understand you, or doesn’t try to, know that you have the right to reserve your own comfort zone.

Remember to stay in the present.

Remember that if you feel triggered you have the right to ground or leave.

Remember that many people are not mindful of others’ needs, so prepare a self care list that you can glance at if you feel your mind can’t focus on its own. Looking at a list of ways to ground yourself can, in itself, also bring you into the present.

To my fellow abuse survivors who struggle through the holidays, I am with you in my heart. Here’s to the passing of another year and the start of a new one.

Vennie Kocsis is a child abuse survivor and the author of “Cult Child“. She is an outspoken advocate for trauma survivors.

What Is Holding Space? 

Crisis. It happens all around us every day in some form, from the child who cries a lot, to the friend who is dying of a terminal illness, to war and news and everywhere we turn we’re surrounded with crisis and news of crisis. We are often left feeling helpless, because as humans, our heart says “We have to fix this.”

I regularly practice caution in this arena. As a natural Empath, I can easily bring to my bosom, every pain in this heaving planet, leaving me somewhere lost in a great pond of sadness.

Once, when I was going through a deep struggle, a friend said, “I’m holding space for you.”

It is quite one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.

So what does it mean to hold space for someone in your life? What does it feel like when you know someone is holding space for you?

When we see others struggling and hurting we want to fix it. We want to help them feel happy. We want to make it better because we love them. This is how beautiful we are underneath our masks which often give off the tone of apathy, a cover for the shame we feel that we cannot fix it.

The first rule of holding space is to NOT do it of you aren’t dedicated. The last thing anyone in crisis needs is am empty promise.

Here are some examples of how to hold space for someone.

1. Answer their calls and texts. Do so willingly and with love. Respond with “I’m so sorry. What can I do to help?” Let them know you are listening. Open the door for them to share with you.

2. Check in on them. Don’t wait for them to reach out. When we are struggling, many of us isolate and cannot find the strength to reach out. So check on us. Let us know when you think of us. You may be the very light we need in that moment.

3. Sometimes we just want an ear. So cease attempting to fix it all. You may say, “Hey, if you need support coming up with solutions, I’ll gladly brainstorm with you otherwise, I’m here holding space for you.”. It’s often best to just hold the space in support, because that one simple act creates these feelings in times of crisis.

We feel Safe
We don’t feel so alone
We become Hopeful
We are Thankful
We feel Supported
We become Motivated

Holding space for our loved ones means sacrifice. I believe that we have to be clear on knowing our own self-love boundaries so that we, as the person holding space, are not depleting our own strength. Holding space requires balance.

Most of all, holding space requires empathy, an ability to step outside of our own self and find the joy in being there for someone else.

Hold space, my friends. It is a beautiful gift to give.

Faceless

I am a faceless wanderer passing by unknown. There are dimensions and planets inside of me that have yet to be born. I’m a color wheel glanced at from distances. There is energy in my existence that is a sinkhole of depression, apathy and ego bending.

I want out of this body and out of this place. I want to run away. I am stuck in thick mud. The spears would fly if I suddenly said farewell, goodbye; to, for once, live my own life. No desire to be caretaker, mother or wife.

I am dried out; wrung like a sponge; assessing escape routes; how to get out without the spears bleeding my skin from the inside until all that remains is a shell.

Hands held out for help, expected, enabled, the support table cracking at the legs, and in their hast to take, there will be silence when the legs finally break. Shattered wood goes back to earth quickly. It becomes dust and ash, disappearing until one day they will sit around musing, “She used to be the tallest tree.”

And my remnants will be what is burned in the fire pit. My mistakes will be their memories. My heart break will be the ghosts, an aching they will never know. So much whining about the trials of their life. You give me your childhood, and I’ll give mine. We’ll take measure of who really survived.

Years I spent, digging and clawing out words, hoping, just hoping to be heard. Even in that, there is no reprieve. Only the stark reality that is me; the knowing I must be alone in order to survive. I cannot be the foundation for anyone else’s life.

So I plan. I scheme. I prepare. To find a cave to call my own; a tender slice of home where there is no noise, the walls are mindful, the silence respects me, and I cease being a projection screen for the multitude of trivial screams.

Do Trauma Survivors Really Hold Onto the Past?

It is said that we trauma survivors most often hold onto the past, ruminating over it in our minds and manifesting it in our behaviors and dysfunctions.

Our past is a map of who we are. It is our personal history book. For many of us it is a manifesto of survival and the treacherous terrain we have travelled over.

But I say this…

I do not believe we hold onto the past. If we could wave illuminated wands or erase our minds back into a clear palette of beautiful memories and loving childhoods, we would maybe then, believe in miracles. I would most likely take that option without question.

No, dears, we trauma survivors do not hold on. Instead, the past holds onto us, and we spend a lifetime prying it’s fingers from our skin, rebuking its haunting voice in our heads and clambering over the piles of images and dreams it randomly throws into our path.

Reversing language, instead of asking trauma survivors, “What part of your past are you holding onto?”, which implies that the survivor is almost enjoying the trauma of their past, a better question would be, “What part of your past is holding on to you?”

There is too much victim blaming language being thrown at trauma survivors. So, I ask myself, what part of my past holds onto me the strongest?

I’d have to say the sexual abuse and the mental fear fragmentation. It makes my stomach revolt when I’m around certain types of men. I cannot stand to look at them or even have them touch me or act intimately towards me. My mouth will water with the urge to vomit.

I am hyper vigilant in all aspects of my life, no different than a military trained soldier or police officer. I am hyper aware of possible dangers around me at all times, hence the urge to stay at my home where it does feel safest.

I speak to my past often. I tell it, “Don’t hold me so tight. You are squeezing my breath.” And it complies, easing just enough for me to move. Our pasts don’t want to release us. The automated aftermath of trauma has been extensively trained by our abusers to keep its spindly fingers gripped into us like puppets.

And we spend time cutting the strings as the spiders continue to weave. We race against time to stay ahead of them; to clear the webs. Sometimes we get tired. It takes work to stay ahead of a spider. They are dutiful and focused. So we must do the same.

“We do not hold onto our past. Our past holds onto us.” Vennie Kocsis