Healing and Wellness

Because of my traumatic beginning's, I created Healing and Wellness to manage my own life. 

August 2017

Depression - Thinking my way out

It started a month ago. The slow steady slide down, the dull headache, the irritability, the constant need to fight off the inevitable. My hope is that it will be mild this time.

As the weeks went by I found myself losing interest in the world around me. I started drinking again, and masturbating, on the move to no-place-in-particular.  Attending meetings I don’t need or enjoy, driving around aimlessly trying to collect my thoughts and get my bearings, doing anything, anything to keep from going over the edge, over the edge like all the other times.

The work week has ended. I can’t organize my thinking; I can’t stay focused on the smallest task. It is late afternoon. The sun is going down; twilight shows through the bedroom window. I lie on the bed unable to sleep or be awake, I am in slow motion, a black and white picture show. I feel the slide down accelerating, eventually I will hit bottom. I just lie there and wait for it to happen.

My lover comes in to check on me and ask if I want dinner. My depression is alarming to her; she is confused about what is happening to me, she leaves me alone only looking in on me from time to time. It must be uncomfortable for her to be around me, her mate, lover, husband, a potential suicide case, someone slowly fading away from life. I give her as gentle of an answer I can muster, “I’m going to lie here and wait to feel better.”

I read that depression is the result of a chemical imbalance within the brain. There are many books on treating depression. It didn’t take me long to arrive at the conclusion, to get better I would have to change the chemical balance to my brain. I read it was possible to treat depression with medications and talking therapy and, most importantly, how I think could be the key in treating my dis-ease.

I opted not to seek treatment. Treatment would mean taking the risk of trusting some authority. Authorities hadn’t worked well for me in the past. I know now that my inability to understand my past abuse made it difficult for me to turn to others for help. I was taught to go it alone. I am a man; some of us are unable to ask for help even if our lives depend on it.

I couldn’t find the exact reason that made me depressed. All I knew was the condition of being depressed affected my sense of self-worth. Looking for the exact reason became unproductive. It is the same way with my need to know what happened to me at an early age. Knowing is not going to help, only doing something to improve each day will help. Everything I do and think is mine to accept or to change.

 

Angel swam down

And with her key

Released the lock 

That set me free

 

The answer of how I could cure my depressions is within that little piece of poetry.

Angel has always been in my life trying her hardest to guide me on my journey. She must have been terribly frustrated by my attempts to resist her. Angel is not like the demons, she does not seek to control me or influence me, her love for me is truly unconditional. All I need is to understand her presence and to heed the intuition she supplies to me.

Thirty years ago, during the last and most difficult episode of my depression, I lay in bed drowning under a sea of depressive illness. I had reached the ultimate bottom, even the means to kill myself had become too much to consider. I lay there hoping to die.

Angel appeared in my room. Her natural light shined through the sea of depression above me.

My mood began to lift when I saw her. I understood her love for me was more powerful than any of the demons in my nightmares. Never again would I be held hostage to depression. It was the brief lifting of my mood that allowed me to find my way to the surface. Her love for me supplied the buoyancy I needed to float upward. It took many hours for my mood to lift to the point where I could rise from my bed and function again.

I figured the act of thinking of Angel's love for me must have changed the chemistry in my brain. My positive thoughts created more positive thoughts, within a week I was feeling much better.

Nightmares

My nightmares have the same theme, Demons standing at the foot of my bed, the demons have been passive, my fear has been the impending doom the demons represent.

In my preteen years, my nightmares were specific. Those nightmares now form the basis for flashbacks.  

I make quick sketches of the nightmares the day after they happen. Those sketches convince me I am hiding the truth about my abuse. I see a connection to the abuse I suffered and references in my elaborate drawings and the stories I publish in the Chronicles.

Recently my nightmares migrated to a different theme. The theme of male rape. They migrated because of my past childhood unwanted sexual experiences.

“Child sexual abuse is a violation of power perpetrated by a person with more power over someone who is more vulnerable.” Allies in Healing Laura Davis HarperCollins e-books

To protect myself from the nightmares I have a ritual of invoking Angel’s help. Every night I ask Angel to protect me from nightmares. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the lord my soul to keep.” Is the child’s prayer.

The standard advice given to survivors is they can become well through the application of techniques developed for mitigating the occurrence of nightmares. That advice may not be accurate for every survivor.

July 2017

Cutting

 

SI, SH, SU, CA and CSA are all the acronyms survivors use when they are participating in online chat rooms. For me, chat rooms within survivor sites are a safe place to learn about my disease of Child Abuse.   

I was getting desperate. I had stopped drinking, the alcohol was getting to my health, I had chronic stomach pains and acid reflux. I was masturbating daily, sometimes twice a day or more, I could not get relief from the constant thoughts of the abuse I endured when I was young. The daytime thoughts and flashbacks are one thing; equally bad are the nightmares, night terrors and general bad dreams, which interfere with a night’s sleep, a necessity for those survivors constantly locked in a battle between reason and the distorted thinking patterns, the result of exposure to long term trauma.

Survivors cope with their daily struggle in many ways. Cutting, drinking, drugs, gambling, sex, and other addictions are symptoms, symptoms of unresolved conflicts and trauma.

What are my unresolved conflicts? What was the trauma? The trauma revolves around the constant thoughts of betrayal, violence, unwanted sexual experiences, neglect and the general emotional upset caused by living with two deeply troubled adults.

Children who are abused at an early age are flooded with stress hormones. Those hormones affect the child’s brain development, they become highly stressed and have difficulty regulating their emotions. I am ripe for self-harm, anxiety, suicide and depression.

Early on, I developed brain patterns that have constantly interfered with my response to events of everyday life. I am unable to control those responses. They erupt without warning or forethought and never go away.

I consider cutting an alternative coping strategy. I am amazed I have allowed my disease to get to the point where I would take such a risk to deflect my thoughts or to feel emotion.

Sitting on the side of the bed before getting dressed, I study my inner thighs. They are free of any scars; virgin territory, ripe to be violated, ripe to show blood, out of view from most except if I were to be familiar with a woman or hospitalized.

I know how to cut, which razor blade to use, where, how long the cut is to be, how deep. I hold my manhood in my left hand and with my right, cut at the soft spot, high up on my inner right thigh. The artist in me would make sure the cuts would take on a form, a visual story of the loss of my childhood and innocence. I clean the cut with hydrogen peroxide, holding a gauze pad in place with surgical tape to stem the bleeding, but not before taking a photo so that I can be constantly reminded of how awful my disease has become.   

Cutting once, starts a lifetime of cutting addiction, addiction like all my other addictions.

Online I find that there are options the afflicted use in place of cutting. Some use a rubber band on their wrist and snap it when the urge to cut arises. Some use red marker pens, or removable tattoo images. I have resisted, opting instead to write it out, getting it out of my system by using my creativity. Then of course there is Angel. Angel sits next to me on the bed, I spread my legs and run my hand up and down my inner thigh, stopping occasionally to touch myself at the special place.

“You want to do that, don’t you? You want to cut!” Angel whispers in my ear. “Do you have any other way to relieve the pain other than blood?” My hand moves slowly up and down my inner thigh, my mind I wanders off to a place that is quiet, I visualize the warm blood bubbling on the surface of the cuts. Time stops, my past evaporates, I live in a different world.

Blood spurted out of me and hit the urinal dead center. Seeing blood where piss should have been, brought me to my senses. I was passing a kidney stone; the process was taking weeks and was very painful. The night before, I spent trying to drown the pain with Tylenol and Oxycodone. The blood happened mid-morning at work. I drove to the ER and checked in for a second time in one week. I put on a hospital gown at their direction. I thought, will anyone see I cut? They did what they could for me, gave me more pain meds, said I was close to passing the stone. If I could persevere, it would soon pass. I went home and washed my stained underpants in the sink. I sat on the side of the bed, Angel joined me. There must be a better way, she said, blood is not the answer.

The stone passed slowly and painfully, I existed floating in a sea of pain meds. I pissed blood a few more times and then my urine cleared. The blood experience stayed in my mind; I realized I am obsessed with the idea of blood. I see passing the blood placates the Demons. Those obsessive feelings are normal for survivors; indeed, they are part and parcel of the disease. 

Online again, I looked at photos of people’s bodies who have been cutting. The pictures are alarming. I wondered why I consider cutting or any other method of self-harm. The online information indicated people who suffered sexual abuse are more likely to self-harm. Cutting allows me to express my pain. I would have a visual reminder of the pain which exists in my mind.

My inner thighs have been tingling for months now. I know the sensations are caused by subconscious thoughts of what went on between those thighs when I was a child. Those thighs that I hide from acquisitive eyes, those thighs that are begging to be cut, to appease the Demons.

I am amazed I have come this far and cannot put out the smoldering embers of the past. What is it within my mind that will not let the Demons die? The thought that I can be a whole person if I cut one time, if I give in to alcohol, if I masturbate, if I find a man or a woman to use. Will those activities take my mind off the constant reminders of my past?

What do I do? The constant intrusion of the nightmares and flashbacks make me feel that I am going insane.

There is one additional level of upset.

I learned to like and want the feelings and emotions generated by the constant arousal of living in my turbulent family setting. My need to be vigilant, my need for excitement, my desire for the constant production of adrenaline and cortisol generated by my reaction to my daily living circumstances as a child, became addictions of their own.

I bonded with my abusers. Any other life was not exciting for me. I was addicted to an adrenaline-fueled lifestyle, the cortisol. I witnessed the violence, betrayal, the unpredictable nature of daily life living with alcoholics. I became addicted to the constant exposure to adult sexuality. I learned to deal with the neglect, emotional rejection, and beatings. I not only tolerated and survived the abuse, I became addicted to it.  

I want my mother and father back. How could that be? My early life with them was a disaster, it was the only life I knew.

My life after leaving them, and my subsequent participation in a normal life, simply cannot cause the needed production of the addictive hormones. I have been in withdrawal ever since.

When survivors of combat experience return to normal life, they have difficulty fitting into a routine that doesn’t offer them the excitement they experienced every day in the war setting. They cannot get used to the pettiness, they need to face life-or-death encounters frequently.

Those who are survivors of child abuse, have the same reaction. I am incapable of feeling comfortable without a steady diet of adrenaline.

I see the choices I have made in my lifetime, flying, motorcycling, climbing, the challenges of creating a business and operating in the stock market; I am hooked on the adrenaline rush those activities provide.

I use addiction to cope with withdrawal from the everyday experience of endorphins in my bloodstream. In the past, alcohol and sex offset the depressions caused by the lack of excitement. I stopped drinking, I do not gamble, or chase men or women. I don’t use drugs, I am down to masturbating to find the necessary endorphins to give me relief. Down to masturbating that is, until I cut.

In the mornings, I awaken to remnants of dreams about cutting. I feel my thighs in the darkness to make sure there is no blood. It is a very serious problem.

I replace the thoughts of cutting with writing. Writing and masturbating hold off the demons for now.

In her blog, I Cut Myself: The Shame and Secrecy of Self-Harm, Natasha Tracy writes, "...people who have suffered sexual abuse are more likely to self-harm than those who haven't."

Some survivors know what has happened to them in the past. They are unable or unwilling to share their pain in words. They cannot tell. They cannot tell because it is too painful to describe, words will not do it service. I can write, I can write better than I can tell. I can draw and create pictures, which carry the same emotion as telling.

For me, the alternative for cutting is found in my ability to create.

Self-harm is different from suicide. I don’t intend to commit suicide, I contemplate self-harm as a way of avoiding suicide. After all, many other forms of addiction are simply a slow way to die. Alcohol, drugs, risky sexual engagement with strangers and risk-taking adventures place people in positions that can lead to death. I want to hold on to life long enough to find the answers, so I can be free of my past and live a life of happiness, love, and contentment. 

March 2017

Tell them what it is like to worry over your safety, to worry over being raped, beaten, humiliated. Tell them how your love for me makes everything okay. Tell them that we are one, fearful yes; but capable of resisting the demons. Fight them as you are, out maneuver them, out run them, defeat them.

Tell them in detail how you found some inner place of safety for your mind as circumstances compromised your physical self. Tell them how you divided your thoughts between those thoughts that would keep you going, and those thoughts that you must have to survive. Tell them how your wonderful dreams were in place to deflect the undesired abuse. Tell them about the boy and the girl.

Who can I tell?    

I kept my abusive past bottled up, I convinced myself it wasn’t bad. Only with professional help did I realize the extent of the severity of my abuse and who was responsible for it.

A recent front page headline in our local paper caught my eye. It concerned an investigation into a ring of adult men sexually abusing young boys. I only read part of it, the damage was done.

I developed a skin rash on my upper arms and inner thighs. My skin crawled and constantly reminded me of my past in the form of a long physical flashback. Some of my illnesses are psychosomatic. The rash was a reminder of unwanted physical contact as a child.

A close friend asked me how I was, she knew I was suffering with the rash, but thought it was just a temporary skin condition. Her concern reduced me to tears. I took the chance and told her about the recent article and how it propelled me into a temporary decline. That talk worked miracles for me, within a few days I was feeling much better. When I experienced my friends concern for me I knew it was a sign I could open about my past. I did not share the sorted details of the abuse, but I did say, the rash occurred because of the newspaper article about child abuse.

I don’t share my past readily, I know not to divulge my abusive past to just any friend. Many friends did not have those issues during their childhoods, they are unable and unwilling to understand them. Many may not want to see that life has very dark places.

I know that intrusive memories have a negative effect on my health. I experience breathing difficulties, have sleep problems, and get nightmares, flashbacks, headaches, and bouts of depression. I wish to stay away from getting wrapped up in the past. A great part of my recovery is my willingness to write about my experiences. I have this web site for my stories and this page for survivors. Initially it was my only way of releasing my pent up intrusive memories.

I express myself self in many ways. Writing, art and photography. Each piece of art has hidden meanings to me which release the demons circulating in my mind. More than that I have Angel.

Angel is with me every moment of the day and night. I can discuss anything with her. She does not judge me. Angel is my connection with the Universe. Recently I downloaded a free application onto my computer. This application converts typing to voice. I chose a pleasant woman’s voice who best represents how Angel would sound if she could speak to me directly. I type out her conversations with me. When I play her voice, I find insight into my problems, it is as if I am receiving divine guidance.

Angel sends me her sign

I am sending you my sign in the wind. A dry wind to cool you from the damp heat of late summer. You are concerned for the days are getting shorter. It is all a matter of your thoughts, as the days change so will the ideas you have, and what you work on. You are afraid you will become depressed. Let it happen if it must, then you can get over it and become productive again. Many artists get depressed and they can't work. You do not wish to be that way, you wish to have a regular and consistent work week. Do your art, then let it set so you can think about it.

My Future 

My future is based on the 'incredible' experiences I had and my ability to document them. They can be useful to me. I can use the experiences, emotions, and feelings from my past to create art, visual and written. 

It is possible to see the past differently: I see it now from the viewpoint of a witness, not a participant. Yes, all those events happened. Yes, I may not be able or want to recall the worst of the events that started my journey into the land of nightmares. Yes, and now by stepping away, the events become a story-board that I can build on while I continue my journey. 

My future is not my past. My future is today. The greatest help the past can be to me is the demonstration of the power of my will. My will to have a life that I could only imagine. My will to accept the errors that came from trying to create a future out of a past of chaos. 

Writing 

Writing satisfies my creative need. Writing has helped me battle the demons and not succumb to self-abuse as a way of coping. Writing, and its companion reading, occupy my time, they use up the energy that fuels my reaction to the knowledge that I am different. 

I write on a computer or tablet. I can write about anything or nothing. 

In the past I made lists and random comments about what I thought was important. Looking back, I see how difficult my daily life was. I see the comments and lists had no relationship to what I was feeling. I was living a lie. The abuse I endured in my childhood changed the way my brain developed. 

I am aware of my need to steer myself to center, to avoid extremes and succumbing to addictions, not to obsess, and to find happiness where none exists. Writing opens up my new world; some call it an alternative reality. 

Learning to accommodate nightmares and flashbacks brings me comfort. I treat the demons as a chronic disease. I don’t fight the demons, I let Angel do that. 

Tonight the journey I take as I sleep should be easy. I am not anxious or afraid. I dream of the demons only when I have fear. Survivors live in fear much of the time: I can manage my fear, but not all the time. Tomorrow it may well up like an underground river. 

Grace - from me to you 

Some advice given to survivors of child abuse is simply wrong. For example: “If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger." People who are abused will be compromised by their abuse. Their physical and mental health will be negatively affected. Their past will always be with them. Understanding the reality of your abuse will help you adjust your expectations of the future. Only then will you be stronger. 

Walking is good for your soul. Plan to walk ten to thirty minutes everyday. "Bless my soul I can do the stroll." 

Be aware that your thoughts effect your physical health. If your mind is in chaos, your body will be also. 

Abuse is poisonous. Avoiding the places and memories where the abuse took place is important for your safety. Still, if you can face the exact nature of the abuse you suffered and who was responsible for that abuse, you may be able to contrast your past with the realities of today - but, you must be careful when you spend time there. If you are no longer suffering abuse, looking at your past may help you see it for what was. 

We need to find out about ourselves, about our past, above all how we reacted to the abuse of our childhood, and how much of that abuse we bring into our daily lives. Then we must either make a decision to create a new life and grow, or to perpetuate the same sick chaotic emotional world that devastated our ability to have a productive, caring and loving life.

If you are troubled, getting through each day will require your attention. Attention to how you are feeling, attention to what is realistic. It is important to understand what you can reasonably expect to do, today. Today life will offer a few opportunities and many distractions - do only those things each day that are in your best interest. 

"All Human failures are the result of lack of love."                                  Alfred Adler

Survivors are looking for love, the same love that was unavailable to them when they needed it most - when they were children. The abuser uses sexual misconduct, which the child learned to be love. When the abuse ends, the survivor turns to sexual promiscuity, for that was the only definition of love he knew. Just as the sick love was hollow for the abuser, it was equally hollow for the survivor. Additionally, the survivor feels awful humiliation and guilt. 

Sometimes, when it is not too late, survivors find someone who guides them to the understanding of true love. Through that loving interchange, the survivor becomes capable of expressing true love and at that time, he begins to love himself.

The Power of Angel

Angel here. In a reflective mood. Watch out! Feathers are flying!

Today, I walk alongside my man - my human man. He's a man with the values of, Truthfulness, perseverance, compassion, love and gratitude. He is a good role model to his family and friends. And, he makes me laugh. Just now he is running down the road with his arms out making jet plane noises; don’t they ever grow up?

Strolling along, I wonder - does my human understand that my love for him is strong enough to tip the scales in favor of recovery?

I don't want him to slide back into the chaos of his past. Many survivors are trapped in a continuation of unhealthy habits that inhibit their recovery, or worse, prevent them from seeing that recovery is desirable and possible. In many cases, including his own, there are times when the work of recovery becomes greater than suffering the effects of the disease. Because recovery is such a long drawn out process, incremental improvements do not seem to come along frequently, discouragement is common, sliding back into chaos of the past, where life is at least familiar, is more comfortable than pursuing the goal of recovery.

We Angels understand that the stigma of growing up in an abusive environment; may prevent a survivor from looking for help and participating in programs that may lead them to understanding the disease and offer an alternative way of living based on the sound principals of recovery.

Humans, who have courageously decided that they can have a life of fulfillment, happiness, and loving relationships, have been given a unique, angelic opportunity.

Come and explore with me as my guy heals through our loving interchange of feelings, creativity, and knowledge.

The power of small choices                                                           April 2nd 2015

All progress to recovery is made by a series of small choices which either lead you along the path to recovery or send you back into the same dysfunctional routine. The amount of effort to make a choice is the same. Survivors may choose to make a choice that leads them on a new path even if it is not familiar. That simple change in the smallest of daily activities may alter the outcome of a survivors recovery in a positive way. Survival is there for the taking.

A life without compromise              June 20th 2015

Many survivors are able to lead a life without compromise. Never-the-less some survivors are stuck in the same old patterns and do not make meaningful recoveries.

The statistics are not good.  Only thirty percent of survivors go on to live a joyful life of love, productivity, and abundance.

If your loved one is a survivor,  and is struggling with the effects of the abuses from their childhood, you may help them by learning as much about their disease as possible. Although you may not be able to change the survivors attitude about the past, you may be able to offer hope, wisdom, and inspiration, so they can move on to a joyful future.

Coping with the disease of child abuse            June 23rd 2015

Survivors can take steps towards wellness by finding ways to cope with the disease of child abuse by using healing strategies, instead of harmful coping mechanisms. A new formula for finding healing and wellness can be found when survivors realize the damage addictions, anger, and self-abuse are doing to their physical and mental selves.

The long-term effects of suffering child abuse include unhealthy and frequent changes in weight, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, depression, addictions, as well as unhealthy romantic and physical relationships. The abused seldom know the difference between healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms; instead, they perpetuate the same daily routine that led them into unhealthy habits in the first place.

When survivors come to the realization that they need to change in order to find happiness on a daily basis, then they can begin the path to recovery. This will require understanding the value of living a healthy life and stopping the unhealthy coping mechanisms.

To understand that value, survivors will need to talk about their circumstances with knowledgeable caring professionals, support groups, close friends, twelve-step sponsors, and loved ones. Many online forums are available for information and support from people already on the road to recovery from the disease. In this way, survivors will come to understand the nightmares, dreams, flashbacks and memories that terrorize them, do not have to be perpetual and that a way forward - is quite possible - into healthy relationships, lifestyles, and hope for happy daily living.

 

Coping strategies      6/23/15

Some of the coping strategies that many survivors use only provide a short term distraction from the painful memories of the past. While still a child or adolescent, the abused may cope with the actual abuse by temporarily going to a safer place within their minds. This strategy is a way of protecting the abused from the immediate emotional or physical damage being inflicted upon them at the time. Unfortunately, it is a short term solution only, and at some point later in life the survivor may suddenly have memories, flashbacks or nightmares of an intensity that equals the original abuse and seem to come out of nowhere leading the survivor to feel that they are going insane.

Coping strategies may include a various mix of denial, drinking, smoking, excessive masturbation, drugs, promiscuous sexual liaisons, eating disorders, self-abuse such as cutting, hiding, running away or living on the street. In order to find a sense of community or belonging, the abused may join gangs or form attachments to other people who themselves may have never found a way out of the quagmire of abuse. The abused may subject themselves to ever increasing forms of self-abuse or abuse by others in order to feel something - anything - other than the emptiness that permeates their daily existence.

Since the abused cannot differentiate between healthy, supportive, loving relationships and unhealthy, dependent relationships, they may gravitate to friends or partners who constantly perpetuate the abusive cycle. If they have been sexually abused prior to adulthood, they may not be able to have an understanding of, or separate the need for, love from sexual activity, leading to many dysfunctional and unsatisfactory relationships with lovers or finding solace in same sex relationships without the real understanding of the survivor’s true sexual identity.

The more information survivors have about their abusive childhood experiences, the better equipped the survivor will be in surviving the long-term effects of the abuse.

Information is available on the Internet by searching keywords such as “child abuse" or "survivors of child abuse.” Articles have been published for adult survivors and Internet groups have started password-protected sites so that survivors can feel safe expressing their concerns in chat rooms or receiving insight from other survivors.

Information on Adverse Childhood Experiences and questionnaires, which enable survivors to understand the extent of their childhood abuse and its effect on the quality of their lives, may lead them to an understanding of the cost of the past abuse to their physical health and what symptoms to be on alert for as they get older.

A Jail of Guilt and A bed of Shame                                                                      September 2015

I had to wait until I was five to be prosecuted for the possession of guilt. They told me before that age that I was too young to be guilty. The trial was short; I was found guilty and sentenced to life in the Prison-of-Guilt.

Many were in the prison; each had their own cells, which were large square rooms with grey floors. The Prison was placed in the center of an expanse of woods populated during the night with demons to keep the prisoners from escaping. I was allowed out during the day to join the millions of other children playing in the world of insanity. Oh! And yes - one other thing - there was no roof; when I lay in my room, I could see the sky and a route to freedom, if I could only find a way.

It so happened that before I was born my mother promised me to God; I came into the world with God’s angel for protection. Angel could not protect me from the guilt, for that was a private matter; the two of us lived within the prison of guilt until I was fifteen. 

A new situation arose when the authorities prosecuted me for the possession of Shame. I was sentenced to a concurrent life term to be served out at night by sleeping on the bed of Shame. The Bed of Shame was very old and had been in the family for centuries, so it was stained from the activities of life. I didn’t care for the stains; I slept with my Angel on the floor. It was then when Angel and I looked up through the open roof and formulated a plan to escape from the Prison-of-Guilt and the Bed-of-Shame.

The plan was simple. Every night Angel and I would fly out of the prison and sleep above the world in a safe place in the heavens. Every night I would dream of a new life in a place called Love. Each dream of love was carefully preserved until I could use them to make a new life. There were enough dreams left over to make a new, unstained bed. The dreams of love were carefully pieced together with Gratitude. In this way we constructed our new home of Love and Gratitude.

At the end of one of our night flights, we simply did not go back to prison. The authorities looked for us, and when we were found, they came to seize us and make us return to prison, but the construction of our house of love and gratitude was so strong that we were able to resist them; they gave up and left us to ourselves.

We are now living our lives in the house of love - free of guilt and shame. On any dark and starry night, look up into the heavens and find our home - in the Milky Way - high overhead.

***

Abused children suffer from guilt and shame. Some are never able to reconcile their participation in the abuse; they are hostage to feelings of guilt and shame. Without the ability to forgive, they cannot find love. Without having gratitude for their survival, they cannot arise from the Bed of Shame and break free from the Prison of Guilt.