A Brave New World

I am so bitterly disappointed by our election result here in Australia, but not for the reasons one might expect.

There really wasn’t a choice. Fear here, fear there, fear everywhere.

If you vote this way, you will lose this or lose that. Meh.

Not one party really presented a hopeful and loving campaign. We were saturated with text messages starting months ago – Big Brother letting us know we have no privacy and no control – money rules us all.

I realise how ridiculous that sounds, campaigns based on fear, because that’s the way it’s been for a long time. And a campaign based on love and hope just seems too utopian ideal to be realistic. But the world that is envisioned by such a campaign is very different to this one.

Imagine – no fear. We all have enough to live the lives we want to live – without greed, without ego, without waste. We aren’t scared of who lives next door, who brushes past us on the street, if we will have enough to make ends meet next week, if a policy will tax money not currently taxed.

Imagine – love and light dictates decisions and interactions. We ask, how will this serve the majority of us, if not all of us? How do we make this a win for all? How can we all benefit from equitably funded education, health, policing and social services?

Imagine – love and compassion. We see a broken person, we ask, how can I hold space so that this person empowers themselves to stand, to rise, to live, again. Instead of bashing them back down, our souls filled with hate and vengeance. We can see another hurting and hold their hand, even if they were previously an ‘enemy’.

And, when someone has fallen as a result of ego and greed and arrogance, we stop to feel their pain and hold their heart so they may learn to see a different way of being. So they may grow and feel the same compassion for others that has been shown to them.

A world where difference and authenticity is valued over all else. A world where we each feel supported to make contributions. A world where we aren’t scared of our own shadows.

My only saving grace is that in my electorate I had a choice. I could choose a hard working and integrous woman. So, I did. So many people did not have that choice. Too many men in politics. Too much arrogance, too much greed, too much ego, too much ‘whiteness’.

I think, yesterday, Australia lost. And would have lost either way. There was no choice between leaders – both have manipulated their way to the top of their respective parties. Both have lead from fear and ego. Neither preach a beautiful vision for our country and our world. Both are short sighted. Neither could be trusted.

And, it would appear, the populace is the same. Gloating that their party won. Small, feeble minds that refuse to see the true cost to all of us of such ignorant perspectives. Attacking people who express compassion for the fallen. Or just a different perspective.

Until there is change in the way we view our system and our world, we are doomed to repeat this cycle. I do not wish for that.

Standing in Truth

Something fundamental has gone wrong in our society. Kids are feeling alone and troubled and disconnected and we don’t see it. Hope seems to be non-existent.

I grew up in trauma and I know many people my age who did. We just kept going. I guess, it’s like we felt we didn’t have too much of a choice.

Fuck. I don’t know what I’m trying to say.

Yesterday, I received a message to let me know that one of my ex students from school had died. This has become a regular occurrence. Just too regular. Too many young lives gone, at their own hand or through accidents.

Too many of our youth feel there is no light. They wander aimlessly, living the life they feel they are expected to live. Scared to pursue their dreams, or to even dream, not believing in their own light. Not realizing they even have a light.

We are all so connected. The ripple effect of kids dying is savage. Meh. The words won’t flow. I’m still in shock.

Death serves to remind us all that life is short. We deserve happiness and peace, but they don’t come easily. We need to work towards it by making choices that take us there. One after the other.

Hardship is part of life. It serves to teach us humility, compassion and resilience.

Every time someone I love dies, I take stock of my life. Is what I’m doing serving others, serving me, making the world a better, more authentic, happier place? What do I need to change? We only get this one opportunity to live this life.

Ah, Trae. You were a gorgeous kid. Year 8 English, sitting with your boys, staying back to have chats, smiling at, but not participating in their silliness. I am just so sad that you won’t become the adult version of the child I knew.

This is the hardest thing to go through as a teacher. We give our hearts and souls to our kids. We invest in their happiness whilst we invest in their education. When they are sick, or lost, or suffering, all we want to do is grab them and hold them and save them from all of the shit that can be this life, their life.

But we can’t.

We all impact those around us. Even when we feel we are nothing, we impact. Even when we feel we are unseen, we impact.

Man. I feel for Trae’s family, his mum, his friends, all being forced to deal with and process and work through something that must be ripping their hearts apart.

Life is short. Significantly shorter for some. We need to ensure we honor the memory of those that pass early by living our best lives and creating a beautiful world.

😥

Pell Take 2 🥵

Aaaargggghhhhhhhhhhhh.

Getting the anger out yesterday helped.

We know I’m into acknowledging the benefits and drawbacks in every situation to maintain balance. I did that yesterday too. It empowered me to enjoy the day. And it gave me space to process.

The triggering I felt yesterday wasn’t about my abuse situation – I’m grateful for that journey in its entirety. What triggered me is that in this society, as much as we’ve seemingly moved forward, we haven’t really at all. Well, in a minuscule way. And, yes, it’s better than nothing.

I guess, until the patriarchal power structures change, we will continue to fall into the same sort of patterns.

It’s like in Child Protection – referring is mandatory, but the legislation stops there. Report, but no, there’s no real support for the mandatory reporter or the child who shares their story. You guys just do what you have to do.

If we were serious, really serious, about changing this culture and healing the children, men and women who have become prey to it, we would focus on rebuilding social attitudes, and ensuring help and real support for those who need it – perpetrator and victim.

Instead, we have a situation where a judge acknowledges the barbaric and self-serving acts of an official of the Catholic Church, acknowledges the short and long term impact for the victim who did not die from a drug overdose (the other did), acknowledges the lack of remorse from the official, and with the potential for a fifty year sentence, orders 6 with a non-parole period of 3 years and 8 months.

Because the perpetrator should not have to die in prison and has health concerns and has been vilified in the media. FFS.

Balance, Tina, and breathe. Fucking ridiculous.

So, where is the benefit?

In the outrage. Palpable outrage that people from all walks felt yesterday. From the outrage, change will come. From the outrage, healing will happen. From the outrage, people will unite and a community will be borne.

Yes, the outrage will start conversations – uncomfortable and challenging – but conversations that will spur movements and that, inevitably, will trigger the cultural shift in attitude that we need.

Life CAN Be Hard

Modern life can be really hard. We work long hours to pay for the rent/mortgage, power, gas, phone, internet, cars and their many expenses, food, school fees, and the list goes on.

The time we have off, we feel pressured to socialise and catch up, when all we really want to do is lie on the lounge to prepare our energy to repeat the entire process the following week.

Life can be hard.

It doesn’t have to be.

We choose for it to be.

Me included.

It doesn’t have to be though.

Three weeks ago, I turned my intermittent meditation into a daily ritual. I’m sleeping much better and more deeply. I wake feeling more energetic.

I’m not the guru of meditation. I use an app (Insight Timer) and I try different meditations, mostly guided. It works for me.

A week ago, I decided to follow my sister’s example and, except for business, disengage from social media. All of a sudden, without mindless scrolling, I have more ‘free’ time. My mind is less cluttered and I feel more grounded.

I also decided to stand on the grass for five minutes a day to just breathe. I feel more centred and calmer.

I’m consciously and mindfully eating and engaging with food. I have more energy and feel like I’m healing my body.

Life can be hard. Our choices make the difference.

A War Within Yourself

I think one of the hardest parts in resolving trauma, in particular childhood trauma, is that it is a long process. A looooong process.

The journey for me, has spanned decades. I had to go through every uncomfortable thing I did to get to health, and I’m still getting there.

Through my twenties and thirties and early forties, I struggled to manage depression. I engaged suicidal thoughts too much and was a roller coaster of irrational emotions.

I endured an inner blood curdling scream for over twenty years. I never felt in control and I never felt worthy of good things. I sabotaged friendships and potential good relationships all of the time. I was almost happy being unhappy, but not.

My mid forties has been a reckoning for me. I’ve learned so much about myself, about the healing process, and about managing our pain.

Two things have to be present for healing to take place:

1. The desire to heal.

2. The right time.

You might scoff at both. You might say, No one wants to be unhappy.

You are wrong. It’s not that people want to be unhappy, but they have become safe in that place and pain has become their identity. Breaking through that requires a great deal of work.

I encounter people all of the time who say they want things to change, they want to heal, but they are stuck where they are and unwilling to take any steps away from the safety of where they are.

I get that. It sounds harsh of me, but it’s true. Sometimes, in our head, where we are and what we know feels safer than the unknown. Feels safer than risking it and failing.

The worst thing we can do though, is stagnate, not move, die where we are. You don’t want that.

And yes, the second we have little control over.

I have had opportunities my whole life to heal. Most I’ve taken, some I have not.

What I know for sure is that if we don’t listen to the whispers of intuition we get that we need to change something, our lives will eventually crash around us and force us to take action.

That’s what happened to me in 2016. I had been too scared, too stuck in the fear of life outside of teaching, that I had not left. As a result, investigation for almost a whole year.

Now, I’m grateful for every second of the torment and anxiety and life as it was.

The Phoenix rose.

Because of that, because of the psychological and emotional healing, I’m now ready to manage my weight effectively. The last frontier for my healing journey.

After this, it will become a journey of maintaining mental, emotional and physical health whilst I grow spiritually and intellectually.

I’m excited.

Healing takes a lot of work and a lot of time, but it’s worth it. Every tear, every breakdown, every second.

Living With A Trauma Survivor

I write a lot about what it’s like to live with a trauma history. I’ve only occasionally thought what it must be like to live with me or to be my friend or partner.

You see, when you have experienced a trauma, the person you were and the person you could have been, no longer exist. There is a grief attached to that, the loss of you and of your past potential, that takes a long time to heal for most.

And the rules that apply to people without trauma, don’t really fit those living with trauma and it’s impact. Trauma breaks people; most temporarily, but for some, permanently.

It changes the way you see the world, and people, and relationships.

When you are abused as a child, you lose trust and a sense of positive self-worth.

As a result, as an adult, you need validation continually that what you are saying, what you are doing, and what you are feeling is okay. You second guess yourself all of the time. Trauma survivors don’t know what the boundaries are and can drive the people closest to them nuts by seeking validation and/or approval constantly. It is hard to live with, but harder to live through.

Remind your survivor that they are safe with you, and that they are enough, especially on the really hard days.

Once a survivor opens up and trusts you, you’re pretty much in for a hard ride. You’d think it would get easier, but it doesn’t.

Because a trauma survivor’s sense of trust has been demolished, when we trust, we trust wholly and expect you to live up to our expectations. It’s not fair, but it is what it is.

We don’t trust easily. We are used to people letting us down, but we expect you to be better than everyone else which sometimes means we don’t allow you to be human, and you feel like you can never win. You can’t. Sad, but true.

Your survivor still loves you, they just need more. Like, if we are feeling something or processing something or working through something, we need to work it through fully. You need to listen. You need to engage. Until it all makes sense in our heads from our perspective, just nod, hold a hand, remind us, “I love you. I’m listening. Keep talking.”

If we express that your behaviour doesn’t help our situation, listen closely, say what you are hearing back, and maybe negotiate a compromise on your behaviour. If that could work.

It’s hard, living or being close to a survivor of trauma. Most of us experience, especially in the early days of healing, irrational rages. If not rages, serious bouts of depression-like behaviours – not wanting to leave the house or interact with others or get dressed or do anything.

We hurt those closest and we try to push them out of our lives before they can hurt us. Even if you stay, we will keep pushing and trying to see how far we can push you, what it takes to break you, because we don’t believe we are worthy of you or your love or your friendship. If there is a chance you can hurt us, your life won’t be easy.

We are damaged.

The world doesn’t look to us like it looks to you.

Where you see sunsets, we see night coming, and that means fear of someone hurting you.

Where you smell eucalyptus, we smell the abuser who wore Vick’s as they hurt us.

We are triggered by the weirdest things at random times, and often can’t access why until we have completely lost our shit. After the release of breakdown, the shedding of another layer of healing, we return to the vulnerable human you know and love.

It’s a hard life for everyone involved. You, the partner or the friend or the parent, well, you need to self-care, you too, need a support network, you need to do what you can for yourself to ensure you cope okay.

You’re right, it isn’t fair.

But it also isn’t fair for the survivor. Healing is a process. There isn’t a one size fits all. And often, healing can take a lifetime as the survivor learns how to live in a world that allowed the damage to happen in the first place. Surely, that, is the ultimate betrayal in trust.

The Hard Lessons – Shame

Third post in this series that started this morning with a mid post breakdown.

I mowed the lawn after the last (second) post. The cortisol moved through my body, I sweated heaps, showered and vomited, and after my shower, I felt cleaner and the cortisol had subsided enough that I knew taking time out and just being, with some meditation later on, would bring my body back to balance. Oh, and eating food with nutrients. Plus a coke or chocolate (this part is not nutritionally sound and a habit I need to break – just not today – don’t judge).

I have worked hard to dissolve the actual abuse triggers. I realised this as I pushed the mower through the grass. This isn’t about the sexual abuse itself. I am grateful to those people for my abuse; I have posted about that before, and this trigger hadn’t changed that. This is about the impact that the trauma of my childhood made. This is about my automatic reactions to things and having to work through every trigger as it comes up.

And that’s okay. Three hours after the incident, I am lying on the lounge, feeling much better, empowered and fully feeling that my mission to empower others is my soul work for this lifetime. So, I’m good.

I want to talk about the shame though. Receiving those messages made me feel like I had done something wrong.

Maybe I shouldn’t have replied. Maybe I said the wrong thing. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough.

Intellectually, I know otherwise. Trauma is a funny thing though. And trauma is not intellectual.

Posting my initial Facebook post yesterday made me feel vulnerable; I was worried that people would judge me, blame me, hold me responsible. I was worried that people would say, and I shit you not, that I am ugly and no one would look twice at me, how many tickets have you got on yourself. I posted anyway.

I wasn’t letting irrational fears guide my choices – this is real growth for me. Trauma is fear based and very hard to ignore or move through. It requires feeling the vulnerability and dealing with the shame.

When people, out of love and kindness, pointed out that George was probably a bot or a Nigerian catfish scammer, my brain told me that I was stupid and I should have known that (how, I don’t know). I felt significantly more shame. I am still unwriting this shame narrative. It will take time.

I think my belly weight is the shame manifested physically. This is really important for me to realise because that knowledge will empower me to lose my excess weight. I thought it was the abuse that caused the weight. I think it is actually unresolved shame. I think my underlying narrative is a strong shame narrative that I fight against.

I now own that I’m an amazing teacher. It took me years to not feel like I was being conceited and to stand in that truth. When I said it to some people, they tried to shame me out of it, but I refused to be shamed.

I now own that I’m a very attractive woman – and the belly twinges – I am, I argue with my belly. I’m not model beautiful, but I’m gorgeous. I am me, wholly and proudly, and shame only has the power to make me buckle, not drop.

Trauma is insidious. It told us we weren’t valuable, we weren’t important, we were disposable, unworthy, undeserving. Trauma is wrong though. And my trauma and my healing is the legacy I will leave this world.

There is more to say. I’m not sure what it is at this point. But I am so grateful for being able to express my self, grateful for having a medium to express myself in, grateful to have the courage to acknowledge the shame publicly, and grateful that I empower myself to stand in my truth.

Unwanted Attention and One Man’s Inability to Listen 🤨

I run a healing business. I post weekly videos on my Facebook business page (@akashichealingthirlmere). Yesterday, I went to our local botanic gardens to film my video. At the moment I have very blonde hair and feel very empowered. I’m in an exceptionally good place. I am radiating that.

Already I’m looking for reasons.

Blonde hair (men love blonde hair – seems to suggest sluttiness).

I’m happy (suggests to men I’m low maintenance).

Ridiculous, Tina. Stop believing the conditioning.

I posted my video. A couple of hours later, I received a private message from a man, possibly not a real account – how do you eve know.

He said, “Hello pretty angel.”

Automatic replies are sent to all messages (important to keep that response banner there). Because it is my business page, I felt the need to reply and to be kind. On personal pages, I ignore these messages. I choose to not engage.

Too many men, too little time – as I roll my eyes.

Business pages are different. My reply was short and dismissive, I thought. It resulted in a very long message about who he was and what he was looking for. I realised my initial reply was not dismissive enough. I became more blunt. No change.

I posted about it on my personal and private Facebook page and beautifully, one of my friends told me how I block/ban him (I’m old lol). So I did.

I was not intimidated, but I was very uncomfortable. I wasn’t being heard which diminished me. He treated me like an object and showed no respect and no regard for what I wanted, which diminished me. And frustrated me and aggravated me.

He wasn’t sexual. But he was belligerent. He said he was a good listener, but he isn’t.

I am going to post the chat here. I have reread it. Some people might say I answered inappropriately – odds on some people will say – oh, you shouldn’t have said that or done that – yep, that’s why people don’t speak out about these things.

The response of others suggests the person receiving the unsolicited attention should feel ashamed. I don’t think I’m expressing this very well – abnormal for me and a sign that I really am uncomfortable about this, as much as I could laugh it off yesterday.

Today I feel angry. I could unban him just to abuse him. And I’ve literally just realised why.

This is why I keep weight on.

I was sexually abused as a child, by three different males, of different ages and with different relationships to my family. Male attention makes me uncomfortable unless I’m in control of it. Fat keeps men at bay.

Fuuuuck. Now I want to cry. And am.

Those males had no right to impose their needs and desires for power over me as a child. And George Hackman had no right to impose his needs on me yesterday.

I should be able to be my best and healthiest self without needing to worry I’ll be targeted or receive unwanted male attention. Now I become articulate. What the. I just do need to write the C word.

How dare any man or any person violate the peace and safety of any other living thing. How dare they. How can someone feel so entitled and be so selfish that they impose their will onto others.

I need to decompress. I’ll post the messages. I’ll get up and process what I’m feeling. I’ll be back when I have.

Childhood Trauma

Obviously, I’ve decided to start writing every day again. I’ve missed it. I think (it could change) that a lot of my posts might focus on childhood trauma and abuse and healing.

I was sexually and physically and emotionally/psychologically abused during my childhood. The way I perceived it all, I grew up believing that I wasn’t worth very much. This made it easier for other people to keep me feeling small in my life. After all, when you aren’t worth much you believe you don’t deserve much.

I have recently read two amazing books on childhood trauma. Dr Bessell van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score and Dr Nadine Burke Harris’ The Deepest Well. If you are interested, the second one is a much easier read than the first. She also has a TED Talk.

An ACE Score is an adversity in childhood experiences score. There are ten questions based on childhood experience. The higher the score, the more traumatic your childhood experiences were. This leaves you open to greater health problems and dysfunction in adulthood.

My score is 8 out of 10.

I’m flabbergasted I function as well as I do hehe.

I always felt motivated intrinsically to heal though. I never wanted my life to be restricted because of my childhood adversity. After all, it wasn’t all bad, it’s just that the bad had no voice and no way to release itself or moderate itself so it took over.

As I read The Body Keeps the Score, I realised how significant the impact of silence and shame has been – especially physically. The physicality extends into the psychological.

I have achieved a great deal in and throughout my life. I continue to grow and to heal. I don’t know why I never really fell off the rails into promiscuity and drugs. Possibly fear lol.

I do know though, that we are better informed today than we were in the seventies and early eighties. I know that counselling and support could make the world of difference in an abused child’s life.

I do not understand why it isn’t mandated in the Child Protection legislation. Trauma counselling should be a given for children experiencing trauma. Research indicates that it can make a significant difference to life outcomes.

So, I will be advocating for this. I want children to have hope, and passion for life, and the belief that they deserve to have their dreams come true.

That’s why I taught for so much longer than I think was healthy for me. I believe in our children, and I’ve seen too many parents, out of their depth, not know how to support their child through trauma. Parents need support too.

We know better. It’s time we do better.

Tina says 🤪

Unsolicited Advice 🤪

My whole life I have had very strong opinions about a lot of things. I was idealistic, passionate and very focused on my vision for this world. I would listen to the views of others, but only ever add to my arsenal of opinions rather than change them.

As we begin to age, I think we lose or temper some of that fervour, and some of my opinions have moved closer to the right side of politics (not right as in accurate, right as in right wing). The delivery of those ideas though would always encompass support and education.

For me these days, empowerment of individuals is vital to happiness and fulfilment. I guess that’s my underlying value and philosophy for living. People need to become empowered, by themselves or through a facilitated process.

In New South Wales in Australia, where I live, we have to vote in a State Election at the end of March.

I have always taken my vote seriously because the only dictatorship I would like to live in is one dictated to by me. When I turned 18, way back in the dark ages, and my first vote was coming up, I fastidiously researched (without Google I might add) the philosophy of each major party in Australia at the time (Liberal, Labor, Greens and the Democrats) and then I researched their leaders and then I found out about my local candidates.

I thought it was important to know all of this. During my twenties, I became involved in local politics, joined a political party, became active, a little militant, and served.

During my thirties, I became disillusioned. Candidates that WERE the best choice weren’t being supported by Head Office as much as they should be and I saw the yucky side of party politics.

Now, towards the end of my forties, having resigned from the political quagmire of school and education bureaucracy, I feel my passion and voice returning.

It has been bothering me that there is an election coming and I don’t know who to vote for. Here in Australia, politics and governance has become an ego riddled joke. Our Prime Minister changes with the winds and politicians don’t really seem to care about us real people and what we want.

So, for the first time in my life, I’m looking very seriously to vote for a candidate that quite possibly won’t gain office this time, but might next time. I’ve gone back to grass roots, and I think I’m going to vote for my local independent.

I met them on Saturday. They are traveling around the electorate to meet and genuinely hear from their potential constituents. Irrelevant who it is. I’m not trying to tell you who to vote for. That’s personal choice and your values may be different from mine.

I am suggesting though, that you find out about your candidates and the parties they belong to, and don’t ignore the independent candidates. Some independent candidates are stooges from the major parties placed in the ballot to extend the preferential votes. Find out.

Find out what each candidate stands for and don’t just vote a way that you always have – I truly believe our major parties need to know how disgruntled we are that they do not choose the needs of their constituents over their own and/or party needs.

It’s time for a political shake up and massive awakening in our country, and we start with our vote at the next elections.

And, yep, after months, two posts in a row hehehe.