31 Days of Finding My Voice {Day 1} – The Challenge

It’s another year of the October “31 Days Writing Challenge” and I have decided to take the plunge! I have to admit. I was really hesitant

I have to admit, I was really hesitant over whether I was going to do it again this year, its not easy writing every day for 31 days. Heck I have a hard enough time writing once a month! but I am up to the challenge, because this journey I am on, has always been about taking chances, pushing through, and mostly finding my voice.

This 31 days challenge of “Finding my Voice” is about letting whatever is here in my mind speak to the space of this challenge, this blog. My writing has always been about that – but this is on a deeper level. Most of the time I write when I feel up to it, or find the words to the blog – but this challenge is about pushing through to use my voice even on the days its hardest to write.

I can’t promise I will make it through the whole 31 days, but I am going to try my hardest, I am going to make it my own personal challenge, and maybe that will help me grow this blog to where it used to be years ago when I wrote daily.

Maybe this challenge is not just about finding my voice, but finding the courage to be even when the moment doesn’t feel right, and pushing myself to connect even on days I dont want to connect.

One of the things I love most about this challenge is the connection is creates with others. You connect with so many different people on this challenge who are all out to do the same thing – connect, and write and push themself to the limits of putting your thoughts out there – even on days you wouldn’t normally write. We are all in the same boat and that is an awesome connection.

So come back every day and see what words and thoughts find this space! I look forward to connecting with others on this 31 day challenge.

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awaken memories

The past couple of weeks I have been experiencing very strong, vivid dreams and memories of my past when I was a little child, and it’s been incredibly hard to sit with these memories that have come to me in my sleep.

I have written before about “crying wake up’s” that I experience once in a while – dreaming and then waking up crying out of my sleep. Well, its happening again only now it’s happening along with very vivid and strong memories of my past.

The moment I wake up with a dream like this, I try and grab my phone’s notepad app to write down whatever I can remember to capture as much as I can! If I fall back asleep without writing the dream down, I will forget details.

I have had crying wake up’s before! I had had bad dreams before, but this is different, this is vivid, and they are strong and painful even. These dreams have been effecting me and my personal life and connection to self.

My therapist and I have been talking about them more in session and the meaning behind them and what the dreams/memories may be trying to tell me. We have spoken about it, I have written about it, I even talked with someone who knew a lot about dreams from those abused in the past, or from abuse survivors.

The dreams and the wake up’s are the inner young child’s way of telling a story she holds! Sometimes when we work on healing for so long, the inner child begins to trust more, she begins to step away from the wall just enough to let images be visible from the young child’s perspective. My inner child is telling me a story of the past that needs my voice, needs healing, needs to be spoken for her to move on, and grow up to be the adult I am today.

I have been told many times that the inner child is stuck inside, and sometimes it takes years and years for the young inner child inside to finally be free and ready to accept the endured abuse and pain, and the story she holds to be told, to be felt, to be trusted!

I have been in therapy for ten years, and in these ten years, I have talked about my story many times in different ways. I have worked through a lot of the pain! I have worked through a lot of the images and the story behind my past. I have painfully stepped into my past.

But it’s different this time; I feel a different shift happening inside of me to where the young part of me feels present; particularly through these vivid, horrific, painful dreams.

These dreams feel so real like it’s happening all over again! It’s the closest I have been to the abuse since it has happened, and it’s scary and painful in ways I cannot describe.

So what do I do with this? At times I am afraid to shut my eyes to sleep at night. My therapist knows what “I had a crying wake up” means and just how hard that is for me – – but that doesn’t even touch just how painful these wake up’s are or have been these past couple weeks.

My husband has even experienced me struggling in my sleep many times this past month, and he has seen just how horrible it has been for me. The crying wake up’s, the wincing in my sleep, the struggle to get out of the situation I am in during these dreams.

What I have come to realize and understand is, this is not something to hurt me all over again, but more so a way for the young inner child within me to speak and show me what she holds. It’s her way of saying “this is what I hold, this is what I remember – and she looks for healing.

But what about all the years I have talked about my past? What about all the hard work I have done so far in working with the images and stories of my past? I thought I was healing? Why is this happening now? Well, This IS the healing! This is the young part of me healing!

Finally, she has trusted to come out of the dark shadows within and show me, to use my voice to talk about “her” feelings and “her” pain.

We all have an inner child! For those abused as a child, that inner child is “stuck” and “silenced” and driven to fear out of being told for many years that she is not allowed to talk about it!

Me as the adult I am today, I have told the story! I have re-lived the old images of the past- but the young inner child wasn’t ready yet, she stayed dormant to the healing until trust could build just enough to come out from behind the walls.

As the healing has happened within me over the years, the young inner child has finally become awaken to my truth, to the trust of my therapist who holds the story. I have spent ten years showing up and showing her trust, love, and connection. The young inner child has awakened to that healing I have worked so hard through – and now that young wounded child is here – listening and ready to heal.

A physical wound heals from the inside out – An emotional wound heals from the outside in! Think about it, emotional healing begins on the outside and works its way inward, and deep within is that wounded, scared little child stuck, now ready to heal and speak and talk and even feel, and that is what I have realized is happening inside of me.

I spoke with someone recently who specializes in healing the inner child, and she said to me “Karen, you are healing, the dreams and the wakeups are not there to hurt you, but to show you.”

Difficult to think about isn’t it? Doesn’t make it any easier to shut my eyes before bed knowing I could be shown yet another image of my past that is painful or hard to see – – but if I can heal another wound on the little girl inside of me, it’s worth going through the pain again.

It took me years and years to believe that I have an inner child. I didn’t want to believe it! I struggled with the thought that if I admitted to having an inner child, that something was wrong with me. I feel differently now – I welcome this journey, and I embrace whatever the inner child wants to show me, because I know, from the outside in, she is healing.

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Grace found in Rigidity

Since I was as little as five years old, I have been stuck in the mindset of how to survive; trapped in the routines of how to move through each day feeling safe under fear.

Even as the adult, the mom, and the wife I am today, I am continually living behind the rigidity of my day-to-day to keep myself safe from anything that could harm me.

But when does rigidity get in the way of grace? When does the safety of rigidity as I know it, get in the way of living, and being the person who God created me to be?

Rigidity gets in the way of Grace when love, care, and support is only accepted when it falls in the strict boundaries and lines I have created around me my whole life.

What I realize more and more now is, It sucks to be trapped in the rigidity of routines that promise me safety and connection – and yet I see just how much grace I am missing out on.

Friday morning in session, when I was re-connecting to how hard it is for me to move out of the mindset of, “what I allow myself to do” vs. “what I really can do.” We both sat in an awed kind of silence when he said: “ahh it’s the rigidity that gets in the way of grace for you.”

He got it! He truly understood more of how hard it is for me to bend, or change the rigidity I live behind, and just how hard acceptance is for me out of fear of getting hurt.

Of course, my therapist knows my story from front to back, side to side, and all the cracks of my story in between! He knows the struggle of the walls I live behind out of fear, and the routines I live with day to day – but he truly got it on a bigger level this time.

That moment Friday in session, I, at the same time realized just how much grace I am missing out on because of that. I got it! I understood just how much grace had been stolen from me because of that rigidity.

“One of the greatest enemies of grace is rigidity.“

It’s incredibly hard living my life with so many self-boundaries and lines I keep myself within. It’s hard knowing that I have all this incredible support, and yet I only allow myself bits and pieces out of fear of getting hurt, or fear of dependency.

When I am struggling with a hard thought, or if I am struggling to feel connected, or if I am drowning in self-doubt, I know I have support to lean on. I know I can reach out to my support at any time, but the amount of work and energy internally it takes for me to accept that support, is sometimes harder than the problem itself.

Sometimes it takes more work for me to lean in and reach out for support than it is for me to move through it myself – and many times, I will get through it myself. Sad but true, but then there are those moments where I sit and cry and fight for that grace to lean in, because I don’t always want to do it on my own, I sometimes want and need the support, love and care. (just saying that wakes up all the fears around wanting or needing).

You see? I don’t wish this struggle on anyone.

BUT what therapy and this healing journey have taught me is, I don’t have to do this alone! I have realized just how good it feels to have that support, love, care, and understanding when I am struggling.

Deep down, I know I have come a long way with that, but I still struggle with living in that rigidity and living my life in the lines of what is safe for me. My routines, the way “I think” I have to be vs. what “I can” be.

I miss out on a lot of grace because of the abuse I endured as a child. I miss out on accepting more support when needed. I miss out on the ability to be heard when I really need to be heard. I miss out on so much of what grace has to offer because of the rigidity I hide behind.

SO, how do I break that wall of rigidity? How do I let grace in more without letting the fear of getting hurt overtake me? I believe it begins with “knowing.”

Knowing the difference between rigidity and grace, and allowing myself to do it anyways.

Knowing that the walls I created as a child served a useful purpose, and sometimes still do. Those walls created a purpose that was needed at the time.

Knowing that healing happens when realizing what part of those walls do not serve a purpose any longer. Those walls that stop me from seeing grace.

Knowing that it’s not my fault, but grace is here to pull me in.

I won’t lie, it’s hard! It’s hard to change what I know, and what I feel safe to do. But I also know the feeling of how good it feels to have support when it’s needed, and not having to do it all by myself all the time.

I know those who are reading this, those who have been through abuse as a child like I have, know just how hard it is to move outside of the boundaries we create to feel safe from harm. How hard it is to change the very routines that we create to feel safe and secure. I know how hard it is – I have been there, I am still there.

Rigidity is a rigid hard shell against grace, and I am beginning to realize just how much grace gets lost in that.

What I hope those who are reading this will see is: it’s not your fault! It’s not our fault that the walls built were made to create safety around us. It is how I, how we all survived from the abuse done to us.

It’s a hard life to live as an adult surviving child sexual abuse, neglect, rape and mental abuse. It’s hard to wake up knowing I will have to live between the walls looking for any grace I can grab onto without fear, and the work it takes letting go of the walls that no longer serve a purpose.

But healing can happen if you allow Grace to come out from behind the walls of rigidity – allow yourself to bend freely without shame or guilt or even fear!

Maybe it’s about allowing both “rigidity and grace” to be there; helping me to see that grace will offer more. Grace will not disappoint.

I am right there learning and healing with you. It’s a journey, a journey to healing.

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