All posts tagged Sexual Abuse

Rewriting Psalm 55 Reflecting on Sexual Abuse

In his booklet Recovering from Child Abuse: Healing and Hope for Victims David Powlison identified Psalms 55, 56, and 57 as particularly good Psalms for helping victims of abuse put their experience into words.  The Psalms were meant by God to help us put our experiences into words, but for many people (especially those who were “silenced” after their abuse) this can be difficult.  The example below is an attempt to rewrite Psalm 55 to put the experience of sexual abuse at the hands of a family member or trusted friend into words.  It is advised to read Psalm 55 in your Bible first.  Then read this post.  Afterwards you might try to rewrite it to allow God to give words to your experience.

A song of me,
my pain, my story, and my God.

1. Oh God please hear me. Don’t pretend that this is not happening. I need you!

2. Be silent no longer. Say something. Let me know you are there. I am overwhelmed as I cry and convulse over what happened to me.  I can’t eat, sleep, or think.

3.  My abuser made such awful noises. He took pleasure in my pain and degradation. He over-powered me. There was nothing I could do. He must hate me to keep doing this. What have I done?!  What could cause such hatred and disregard?!

4. My soul quakes.  Heart-break feels romantic compared to this. This is worse than death.

5.  Panic attacks and the fear of panic attacks assail me. My body tremors in rebellion against me.  I can’t control my movements. Fear divides my heart, soul, mind, body, and will to attack them separately.

6. Like Jenny in Forest Gump, I want to be a bird and fly away.  I want to escape to a place of rest.

7. That place of rest would have to be far away, but there is one, right? I would travel however far, by whatever means, if only You promise there is somewhere I can go.

8. If you would just tell me the direction I would leave now. I would drive all night. I want peace more than sleep. Without peace sleep is useless. Sleep is just part of the storm.

9. Take justice! Do to them what they have done to my soul. Don’t let them multiply my shame by talking of this deed. Don’t let them mock me or worse talk like nothing happened.

10. I can’t believe I live in a world/country where this is “common.” It’s always being reported on the news or another documentary. Every time I hear it I am reminded. The pain echoes; worse it flashes back.

11. There is a whole industry of sexual degradation in our culture – porn. Its bigger than the NFL. They write and glorify stories like mine. There is an audience who pays for it, even with children.

12. But I can’t blame culture or an “industry” for my pain.  It is no stranger who dined on my soul. It was not an enemy who was getting even. If it were, then I could be more protected. I could appeal to family and friends for help… and they might believe me.

13. But I knew him! I trusted him! My trust was used against me. My trust was the Trojan horse that let him in. How was I supposed to know?

14. We had so many good talks before that. We went to church together. We prayed together. He taught me Bible lessons. How much of that was a lie? What does it mean to have your soul betrayed by a friend and a “friend of God”?

15.  May the death they have sparked in me explode in their own life and them live to experience it.  Oh, that they would know the full degree of pain it was possible for them to create.  Let their heart vomit its content into their own soul.

16. But I call to you God.  No one is capable of handling what is before me except You. It takes omnipotence to overpower my pain, omnipresence to get your arms around it, and omniscience to fathom it.  Only You can help me.

17. My pain is before me all day and at night when I am not sleeping.  I don’t know what else to do but cry to You.  So You hear from me a lot. Everything in my life reminds me of my pain and my pain reminds me of my need for you constantly.

18. You are the one who keeps soldiers safe in the midst of battles. I am in the fight of my life and won’t make it without You.  My abusers, pain, memories, and fears out number me greatly.

19.  God I trust the lies and deception do not outlive You.  You hear, see, and know the truth. This sin was as arrogant against You as it was ravaging to me.  He will not stand or smirk in Your presence.

20. My father/uncle/friend attacked me and violated the trust of our friendship and, with it, my willingness to allow anyone to get close again.

21. I replay his words over and over again, but cannot figure out what I should have heard. The terror of his intentions was hidden from so many. Were all of his compliments intentional instruments of death or were some sincere?

22. This was not my fault. God calls me righteous.  He calls for me to cry to Him. He is not ashamed of me.  God is angered by anyone who would shun or condemn me.

23.  But God is more angered by my rapist. Sexual predators will answer for their sin. Yet in His fury against them God is still safe for me.  I will come near, leave my shame, look in Your eyes, and have my trust restored.

A Picture of the Ongoing Effects of Sexual Abuse

Do you remember playing with a cube box with different shaped pegs (square, star, crescent) that went in the holes?  Probably not, but you’ve likely seen children play with them.  This is a good picture of childhood development.

Children try to match the peg with the hole.  If they’re wrong we say, “Not quite. Keep trying.”  When they get the right peg with the right hole, but the block is turned the wrong way we say, “Oh, you’re so close. Turn it just a little bit.”  Gradually a child trains their sense (sight, shape recognition, fine motor skills, depth perception) and learns to trust their judgment.

We see from this that a child is dependant upon their parent to teach them what things are – not just shapes but also right/wrong, good/bad, safe/unsafe, acceptable/unacceptable, funny/offensive, and so on.  These lessons are much more significant than colors and shapes.  They have major implications for most every significant area of life – self-perception, emotions, relationships, sense of hope, whether effort will be rewarded, and many more.

Imagine again a child who is playing with her cube.  She manages to get the right shape to the right hole turned in the right way and pushes it through.  Instead of praise, she is scorned.  “What are thinking?  You are such a bad little girl. If you wouldn’t do things like that I wouldn’t have to yell at you like this.  Why do you make me do this?  You bring out the worst in me.  If you tell anyone I treat you this way they will take you away from me and you’ll never see me again.  It will be your fault too, because you did that stupid thing with the blocks to set me off.”

The child just learned a lot.  She learned that blocks are not safe.  She learned that adults and authority figures are not safe. She learned that life is full of set ups and you better be on guard.  She learned you can do things “right” and still catch Hell and it still is your fault.  She learned, “I should protect my family from outsiders even when my family is dangerous.”  She learned that good was bad; right was wrong; unacceptable was acceptable; her feelings are irrelevant; hope is dangerous, and effort gets you in trouble.  Oh yeah, she also learned not to put a square peg in a square hole.

Take all of those distorted lessons and multiply them by intense physical pain, confusing intermingled expressions of affection, possible sexual arousal, and the real need to believe that your parent is a safe person and you have the distorting influence of sexual abuse.  Now with that raw material step into a “normal world” where nobody knows you’re dealing with that and try to learn at school, engage in relationships, make sense of emotions, and pursue your dreams with the life experience of a nine year old.

You may think this sounds too awful and that I should be more “positive.”  Real hope begins in the depth of our suffering.  Hope that does not begin in the depth of our struggle is more platitude than Gospel which began with incarnation – Jesus entering our world in all its brokenness.

My goal in writing these words is not to be dark, but try to get past the defense, “You just don’t understand” when I say, “There is hope.”  And I do believe there is hope.  It is a hard road and one that should not be walked alone.  You were alone in your abuse.  You were alone when fear kept you silent or when your plea for help was not believed.  You were alone in your confusion when you tried to make sense of your life with what you “knew.”

Damage was done in relationship and healing will occur in the context of relationships.  The goal of this seminar is to give voice to your experience, overview what the process of restoration looks like, and point you to valuable resources to help you continue on that journey.

Book Review: Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault by Justin S. Holcomb and Lindsey A. Holcomb.

You cannot judge book by its cover, but you can begin to learn a lot from its opening statements. In this book, the Holcombs begin the first chapter by saying, “If you have suffered as the result of sexual assault, this book is written to you and for you – not about you. What happened to you was not your fault… You should not be silenced… You do not have to pretend like nothing happened (p. 15).”

These statements speak to the common fears and lies associated with sexual abuse. The authors begin where their readers begin. They know and care deeply about their audience. While many biblical counseling books discuss sin more than suffering and emphasize prescription over description, this book digresses from that trend.

As with any book worth reading on sexual abuse, this book is hard to read. It speaks of stories that most of us would prefer to never think about. The words of Amy Carmichael are worth considering to remind us why a book like this can be both disturbing and edifying, “Those who know the truth of these things will know that we have understated it, carefully toned it down perforce, because it cannot be written in full. It could neither be published or read… but oh, it had to be lived! And what you may not even hear, had to be endured by little girls (p. 228 in Things As They Are).”

In the first section of the book, the Holcombs use the category of “disgrace” to capture the essence and explain the effects of sexual abuse. The vividness of their authorship does an excellent job of displaying how this category serves to capture the experience of sexual abuse while, at the same time, preparing the reader to understand God’s grace as essential to the healing process.

In the opening chapter, the Holcombs seek to capture the contrast of disgrace and grace:

Disgrace is the opposite of grace… Disgrace destroys, causes pain, deforms, and wounds… Disgrace makes you feel worthless, rejected, unwanted, and repulsive… To your sense of disgrace, God restores, heals, and re-creates through grace. A good short definition of grace is ‘one-way love.’ This is the opposite of your experience of assault, which is ‘one-way violence’ (p. 15).”

The second and third chapters do an excellent job of defining sexual abuse, describing the impact of sexual abuse, and summarizing the key research on the subject. At this point the reader gains great confidence that the author knows me (if he/she has experienced sexual abuse) and that the authors have invested their lives in knowing my struggle. For a reader who has been silenced for most of his/her life and likely spent the rest of it hiding, those are powerfully important messages.

Chapters four through nine seek to capture six experiences of sexual abuse: denial, distorted self-image, shame, guilt, anger, and despair. Each chapter is introduced with a four to five page case study that sets up the discussion of each struggle.

This section begins to speak slightly more at a counselor’s level than a counselee’s. The description of the experience, discussion of alternative explanations, theological insight, and application are excellent. However, there are two aspects that (for this reviewer) make this book more valuable for the counselor.

First, the depth of empirical research and theological discussion may lose a reader who is overwhelmed by their initial experience(s) of abuse and the post-trauma that emerges from considering the subject again. Because of this, a strength of the book may get it caught between audiences (counselor and counselee).

If giving this book to a counselee, the counselor may want to offer the following points of advice:

  1. Read the book slowly. You may have a spike in emotional disturbances as you read a book on sexual abuse. This is normal, but can be alleviated by not trying to finish the book quickly. [This is general advice for any book on the subject.]
  2. Read the book twice. The first time do not try to understand everything. Get the big picture the first time. If something feels deep, know that you can come back for it the second time. This is a book that goes as deep into the cross as it does into your pain and that is hard for anyone to digest in one reading.

Second, the material seeks to dissect the individual experiences of sexual abuse rather than charting a journey through those experiences. It is often hard for a victim of sexual abuse to pull apart his/her emotional experiences. This book does a good job of labeling the “baskets” of experiences. Each of the six experiences are described well enough to serve as a stand alone resource on each subject for teachers (regardless whether the subject being addressed is sexual abuse). However, for the reader seeking to be taught how to “sort the laundry” of his/her experience they may desire more process instruction.

The richness of this book would make it an excellent resource for someone well into their recovery who wants to understand what God has been doing all along the way. Even if their recovery was found through a secular counselor or the “school of hard knocks,” I believe they would be able to trace the hand of God in their life with the quality of writing and scholarship in Rid of My Disgrace.

I am personally excited to see books like this one being written by biblical counseling authors. I pray that God will bless not only the ministry done with and through this book, but that God will use it to inspire more of its kind.

This review was originally posted at The Biblical Counseling Coalition site. I would heartily recommend the BCC as a resource to find information about the best resources on Biblical Counseling.

My Prayer for Those Attending the Sexual Abuse Seminar

Lord,

I know Your heart hurts that this seminar is even necessary.  You care for Your people and despise abuse of all kinds.  I pray that in the seminar tomorrow that Your heart of compassion could be seen clearly by those aching to see it.

Father, probably no one but You can accurately sympathize with how hard it will be for those who need to come to actually muster the courage to come.  I pray that you would give them Your courage.  As their heart’s race while deciding whether to come, let each person be keenly aware of Your presence. Remind them as they feel like they are “walking through the valley of the shadow of death” that they can “fear no evil, for you are with them” (Psalm 23:4).

Lord, I pray for my words tomorrow.  I want to accurately capture the experience of sexual abuse so that those in attendance can feel less alone and see that the words of hope/guidance really are applicable to them.  At the same time, I do not want the presentation to be any more painful than is necessary to begin/continue Your work of healing in their lives.  Grant me the discernment to strike that balance.  Give me good words, full of grace and hope, as I speak.

Lord, I recognize that this subject is beyond the power of clever illustrations and penetrating insights to bring about change.  I ask that the seminar, in whatever way best fits the situation of each person there, serves as an introduction to You, The Great Physician and Wonderful Counselor.  Use the materials as a bridge from pain and shame to You.

Finally, Father, I pray that tomorrow would be a landmark day in Your work of restoration in the lives of many people; knowing that tomorrow will not “complete” the journey for anyone.  But I ask that it would be a day that many could look back upon and see it as a point where hope grew, lies broke, silence stopped, isolation ended, fear began to retreat, shame lifted, “normal” moved towards healthy, and peace peaked through the darkness as the God of Light displayed His great love for many of His hurting children.

Thank you, Father, for being willing to listen even as we bring you prayers that we wish did not have to be prayed.

 

Rewriting Isaiah 53 Reflecting on Sexual Abuse

In her book On the Threshold of Hope: Opening the Door to Healing for Survivors of Sexual Abuse Diane Langberg advises victims of sexual abuse to rewrite the Isaiah 53 passage of the Suffering Servant as a way to help them see how Christ can identify with their suffering. She says:

“Turn what you read into a prayer. Use the word of Scripture to help you articulate your pain, your questions, your fear, your anger… Rewrite the Scripture passages as you read. Personalize them. Take Isaiah 53, and write it so it speaks about your life. Then look hard at the similarities in your life and the life of Jesus (p. 182).”

The example below is an attempt to rewrite Isaiah 53 to put the experience of sexual abuse into words.  Dr. Langberg provides another example of rewriting Isaiah 53 in her book on pages 182-186.

Isaiah 53 (Personal Rewrite)

1. I spoke and no one believed what I said.  They thought I was a liar or a lunatic. Even when there was great reason to believe me, they refused. The truth was supposed to set me free, but it made me an outcast.

2. I was a young child. He knew and “loved” me. I was weak and vulnerable in his care.  Was it my body? Was there anything about the body of a child that could allure such destructive passion? If so, I’ll hide my beauty. I’d rather not be seen than attacked. To be known is dangerous.

3. Oh, the way he looks at me now. He hates me. He looks at me, knows what he did, and despises me as his reminder. I feel like others can see it too, and reject me. When I speak people back away from me. I want comfort. I keep getting rejection. I am sadness. Grief is my best/only friend. People find it easier to pretend nothing happened and turn their eyes (literally and figuratively). I represent what people want to forget.

4. Is this worse than the cross? Is this what made you cry “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” instead of the nails? I know why people thought God had abandoned you. I have thought the same of myself.

5. You did this voluntarily? You bore this so we would not be alone in this moment? I don’t yet know how it is supposed to heal me, but I am amazed. I can’t get anyone to believe me and You would join me. You must want peace for me worse than I do!

6. I have run from my pain in so many directions: people-pleasing, promiscuousness, cutting, thoughts of suicide, perfectionism, denial, withdrawal, and more. None of them worked, yet You bore the penalty and walked the journey of each road to buy me back and set me free.  That kind of love is so foreign to me it scares me.

7. You too were tortured and silenced. You surrendered Your voice because they took mine. They took Your clothes too and You said nothing. You plunged fully into the depths of my pain to rescue my drowning soul. I was so silenced I could no longer call to You, yet You came.

8. People scorned You because of Your suffering. I too have been judged for my suffering.  I judge myself and wonder if it was “my fault.” I want to scream, “No I wasn’t asking for it!” You were cut off from the “land of the living.” I feel as if I walk though life with a dead soul. I hate being ostracized because of someone else’s sin.

9. I hate being grouped with the “dirty people”—hookers and sluts. But that is how I feel, dirty. I did not give myself to another, but I do not get to be “pure” and do not feel I can associate with the “pure.” But I didn’t do anything wrong. I have to believe that. It’s true. Why is it so hard to believe?

10. I don’t know how to talk of Your involvement in my suffering, God.  You were not blind. You were not sleeping. Your character does not change? God, be patient with me if I skip this question for a while. I fear I want survival more than redemption right now. Work with me at a pace my soul and mind can bear. I’m trying to pray “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

11. When/if I find comfort for this pain, I would gladly share it with the world, or at least anyone who would care to listen to me. Help me believe that peace is more than a fairy tale like unicorns. I long to join with Christ in His journey through suffering to life—life unshakable and impenetrable.

12. Pray of me, Jesus! Pray for me!  I am beginning to realize if I have held up under this weight for this long, I must be in “the strong.” You identified with me in my suffering. Help me identify with You in your victory over sin, suffering, and death. Instead of losing myself in the crowd, in my numbness, or in the dots on the ceiling (where there is no life). Let me lose myself in You (Life Itself)!


Sexual Abuse as Living Between Two Worlds

Imagine that as a child your house was burned to the ground (or some other horrific event) but no one at school, church, or in the extended family knew it.  You go to school the next day and everyone acts like nothing happened.  You go home and live in the charred timbers.

Friends talk about the cool new way they decorated their rooms or ask if they can come over to your place.  Yet for some reason, you don’t think you can tell them what happened.  You don’t want to disappoint them or ruin their excitement about their new room.  Teachers ask you to write a paper about giving someone a tour of your home.  You don’t want to fail or upset the teacher so you make up a paper. An aunt asks the color of your room because she wants to get you something for your birthday.  You don’t want to seem ungrateful or like you’re lobbying for a larger present than your cousins so you tell her blue.

Secrecy demands lies.  Shame reinforces secrecy.  Pretty soon you are protecting everyone else from the truth of the reality you have become insulated within.  It’s not long before you are living in two completely different worlds (one with real events and the other with real people).

This is a small picture of the effects of sexual abuse.  A tragedy happens that radically disrupts life, but no one knows it.  You go on living and people ask you relevant questions, but the situation doesn’t seem to be able to handle the magnitude of an honest answer and you don’t know how they would respond, so you lie.  Lying gives a little bit of relief.  It is almost easier to live in the world you write with your words… if only it were real.

Now imagine the world of a sexually abused child.  People make positive comments (get close to your father for the picture) and ask awkward questions about the tragedy (why don’t you go to church anymore, you used to love pastor so-and-so).  Each time aggravates the pain and further confuses the two neat realities the abused child was trying to live in.

It is not enough that you can’t live in one unified world, now (with each comment and question) you can’t even live in two neatly divided worlds. Worse still it is only the make believe world that obeys the law of cause and effect.  In the real/hidden world there doesn’t seem to be a reason why people get hurt (for being a pretty little girl?). So you either learn that nothing you do matters enough to change the abuse, or you desperately try to control everything because it is the only chance you have at survival.

Then you step back into the fake world (the one with real people) and other people talk as if cause and effect is absolute (sowing and reaping).  This either makes you feel incredibly guilty (tying to figure out what you “sowed”) or like you really do live in a different world with different rules from everybody else.

But whenever you try to just surrender to rules of the “your real world” people tell you “You’re doing it wrong.”  The result is you don’t know how to win.  The temptation is to give up on life (despair) or give up on people (callous anger).  Yet you’re too human to do either one for very long, so you ping-pong between the two.

The goal of the sexual abuse seminar is to help you understand the effects of what happened to you and the effects of how you tried to control what happened to you.  With this understanding you can begin to live out of one story (that God is redeeming) rather than in two worlds (that are pulling you apart).

This post is an illustration from the Hope and Restoration After Sexual Abuse seminar.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Sexual Abuse” post which address other facets of this subject.

A Picture of the Ongoing Effects of Sexual Abuse

Do you remember playing with a cube box with different shaped pegs (square, star, crescent) that went in the holes?  Probably not, but you’ve likely seen children play with them.  This is a good picture of childhood development.

Children try to match the peg with the hole.  If they’re wrong we say, “Not quite. Keep trying.”  When they get the right peg with the right hole, but the block is turned the wrong way we say, “Oh, you’re so close. Turn it just a little bit.”  Gradually a child trains their senses (sight, shape recognition, fine motor skills, depth perception) and learns to trust their judgment.

We see from this that a child is dependant upon their parent to teach them what things are – not just shapes but also right/wrong, good/bad, safe/unsafe, acceptable/unacceptable, funny/offensive, and so on.  These lessons are much more significant than colors and shapes.  They have major implications for most every significant area of life – self-perception, emotions, relationships, sense of hope, whether effort will be rewarded, and many more.

Imagine again a child who is playing with her cube.  She manages to get the right shape to the right hole turned in the right way and pushes it through.  Instead of praise, she is scorned.  “What are thinking?  You are such a bad little girl. If you wouldn’t do things like that I wouldn’t have to yell at you like this.  Why do you make me do this?  You bring out the worst in me.  If you tell anyone I treat you this way they will take you away from me and you’ll never see me again.  It will be your fault too, because you did that stupid thing with the blocks to set me off.”

The child just learned a lot.  She learned that blocks are not safe.  She learned that adults and authority figures are not safe. She learned that life is full of set ups and you better be on guard.  She learned you can do things “right” and still catch Hell and it still is your fault.  She learned, “I should protect my family from outsiders even when my family is dangerous.”  She learned that good was bad; right was wrong; unacceptable was acceptable; her feelings are irrelevant; hope is dangerous, and effort gets you in trouble.  Oh yeah, she also learned not to put a square peg in a square hole.

Take all of those distorted lessons and multiply them by intense physical pain, confusing intermingled expressions of affection, possible sexual arousal, and the real need to believe that your parent is a safe person and you have the distorting influence of sexual abuse.  Now with that raw material step into a “normal world” where nobody knows you’re dealing with that and try to learn at school, engage in relationships, make sense of emotions, and pursue your dreams with the life experience of a nine year old.

You may think this sounds too awful and that I should be more “positive.”  Real hope begins in the depth of our suffering.  Hope that does not begin in the depth of our struggle is more platitude than Gospel which began with incarnation – Jesus entering our world in all its brokenness.

My goal in writing these words is not to be dark, but try to get past the defense, “You just don’t understand” when I say, “There is hope.”  And I do believe there is hope.  It is a hard road and one that should not be walked alone.  You were alone in your abuse.  You were alone when fear kept you silent or when your plea for help was not believed.  You were alone in your confusion when you tried to make sense of your life with what you “knew.”

Damage was done in relationship and healing will occur in the context of relationships.  The goal of this seminar is to give voice to your experience, overview what the process of restoration looks like, and point you to valuable resources to help you continue on that journey.

This post is an illustration from the Hope and Restoration After Sexual Abuse seminar.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Sexual Abuse” post which address other facets of this subject.

My Heart for the “Hope & Restoration After Sexual Abuse” Seminar

In our day we have done a much better job of trying to ensure that no one hurts in silence.  There are more programs in many of our churches for those who are facing the aftermath of divorce or who are struggling through an addiction.  More and more seminars are being provided for marital enrichment or emotional struggles like anxiety, depression, grief, anger, bitterness, or guilt.

Yet there are still relatively few resources for those who live with the effects of having been sexually abused.  Most of these people were silenced during and after their abuse (by threats of harm, intense feelings of shame, or the thought that no one would believe them).  They lost their voice.  Unfortunately now, because there is no place for them to speak of their abuse, they still have no voice.  This magnifies their pain and reinforces their fears.

No 3-hour seminar is going to give someone their voice back after years of isolated silence.  Neither will a brief seminar bring healing where significant damage has been done.  But I do hope that this seminar can do two things:

  1. Help people feel less alone with a struggle that is isolating in many ways.  It is natural to feel hopeless when you do not think anyone understands.  Hearing the nature and origin of your struggle put into words that make sense (when it has only been random and/or violent up to this point) is a first step in the direction of hope.
  2. Create a map of a struggle that is complex enough to make you feel crazy.  A map and journey are two different things, but a map sure helps with most journeys.  More than compassion alone, this seminar also hopes to offer direction and resources to assist you on your journey towards hope and restoration.

I hope in our time together we can answer (or at least begin to answer) questions like:

  • How does facing sexual trauma a child affect the process of developing as a person, emotionally, and relationally?
  • How are traumatic memories stored differently from “normal” memories?  How does this affect flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, and other disturbing fear experiences?
  • Why is it so hard to trust again?  Why do I often choose such bad people to trust and go “all in” when I do?
  • Why don’t my emotions work like everyone else’s?  I feel numb at odds times.  Other times emotions come on too intensely.
  • Why do I feel like I am always on guard?  I can’t turn my mind off or quit waiting/looking for something to happen.  Will I ever know what “normal-normal” is?
  • How do I change beliefs that are rooted in fear more than logic?  If they were rooted in logic I could reason with them, but they’re not, so I feel powerless to change them.
  • Why does it alternate between feeling like everything matters and that nothing matters?
  • Why do some people who have been sexually abused take pleasure in hurting themselves (i.e., cutting, or other self-destructive behaviors) or hurting/abusing others?
  • If I know I am safe now, why doesn’t this all just go away?