Finding Hope after Abuse

traces of hope

How do I process my grief?
Does suffering have any meaning?
Do we live in a random chaotic universe?
Is it time to re-evaluate my understanding of “God”?

This book is for anyone who has suffered a loss – of safety, of one’s home, of health, of a loved one or a relationship, or of one’s faith … and found themselves asking, “Why?” And then wondering, “Who am I asking?” and hoping they were not alone.

http://www.amazon.com/Traces-Hope-Surviving-Grief-Loss/dp/1937943275

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Traces of Hope

Over the past few years I have used the opportunity offered by this blog to reflect on many aspects of my healing from sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

I have a new book coming out that tells the story of my healing journey and my journey through grief and loss if you are interested in my full story.

http://www.amazon.com/Traces-Hope-Surviving-Grief-Loss/dp/1937943275/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426982211&sr=1-1&keywords=Mona+villarrubia

A response to commenters on Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea’s article on NCR

Reference:
“Hard work awaits pope and abuse survivors”
Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea | NCR Apr. 23, 2013

A response:

I read the article and was impressed, as always, by Frawley-O’Dea’s passionate and insightful comments. She not only counsels but truly understands the struggles of victims. Not all therapists can comprehend the spiritual devastation of priest abuse.

Then I read the comments and was sickened by two themes: 1. The problem is homosexuality; 2. Compensation is a miss-use of church funds and neglects the poor and needy.

To the second point I want to say that the victims of pedophile and sexually abusive priests are, in my experience (11 years active in the survivor community; 54 years living with the effects of the abuse) some of the poorest, most damaged and needy people in the catholic community. Sadly they are no longer actively catholic and hence not included in the charitable giving of the church. But the reason they are no longer actively catholic IS the church – the behavior of abusive priests in the church.

I have known suicides, alcoholics, drug users, homeless, bankrupt, mentally ill victims whose lives were irrevocably damaged by suffering priest abuse. Counseling is vital, but so is the ability to earn a living, a place to live, and food to eat. Unfortunately the emotional and psychological ability to process a claim against the church is beyond the mental and certainly fiscal resources of most victims. This is where pro-active lawyers must step in and when they do the claims made must cover their fees and they are expensive. And getting a large settlement is what lawyers do. It helps their reputations. This is just the facts. If the church would make settlements before lawyers are engaged it would lesson costs to the church. But the bishops are the first ones to lawyer up. Again, my experience: 17 years seeking help for therapy, the bishop eventually said – “don’t write to me any more, talk to my lawyer. ” It was downhill from there.

Now to the first point. Homosexuality is not and never has been the issue. No more than heterosexuality. If we throw out homosexual priests we have to throw out heterosexual ones too, because pedophilia and ephebophilia are two very different issues and not strictly homo or heterosexual. Sexually abusive priests I have known, or learnt about, were psychologically deformed in some manner. Some abused girls and boys, some abused adults and children. One of my abusers raped my mother, molested me and one of my brothers. How should he be categorized? Simply a sick man with a corrupted morality and deformed psycho-sexual nature. He was an opportunistic abuser, not a homosexual or heterosexual abuser. We have to stop labeling this a homosexual issue. Healthy homosexual relationships are between consenting adults and are as committed as heterosexual ones. The problem for some of the commenters is that homosexuality is seen as evil so it must the root of the sexual problems of abuser priests. Wrong! If anything, the common sexual issues for abusive priests are chastity and celibacy.

Where was I?

It’s only in looking back that I realise I was depressed these past months.
It’s only in looking back that not wanting anything more than sleeping on the weekends seems like a clue to a low mood.
It’s only in looking back that finding myself unable to work on my book or rejoin the choir seems telling and weeks of easy tears seem abnormal.

I think when you’re depressed it’s easy to miss it, even when you have a history. Maybe because you have a history. A little depression is just a common state of mind, so who’s to say when it is becoming a problem, when it is becoming “clinical.”

But today I went for a walk, even a little run; I enjoyed becoming breathless – it didn’t take much. I raised my face to the sun and my arms to the wind. I spread the fingers of my hands and felt the air between each one. I felt myself opening up, and wondered – not for the first time – where have I been?

Switchfoot, “Thrive”

 “Thrive”

Been fighting things that I can’t see
Like voices coming from the inside of me and
Like doing things I find hard to believe in
Am I myself or am I dreaming?

I’ve been awake for an hour or so
Checking for a pulse but I just don’t know
Am I a man when I feel like a ghost?
The stranger in the mirror is wearing my clothes

No, I’m not alright
I know that I’m not right
A steering wheel don’t mean you can drive
A warm body don’t mean I’m alive

No, I’m not alright
I know that I’m not right
Feel like I travel but I never arrive
I wanna thrive not just survive

I come alive when I hear you singing
But lately I haven’t been hearing a thing and
I get the feeling that I’m in between
A machine and a man who only looks like me

I try and hide it and not let it show
But deep down inside me I just don’t know
Am I a man when I feel like a hoax?
The stranger in the mirror is wearing my clothes

No, I’m not alright
I know that I’m not right
A steering wheel don’t mean you can drive
A warm body don’t mean I’m alive

No, I’m not alright
I know that I’m not right
Feel like I travel but I never arrive
I wanna thrive not just survive

I’m always close, but I’m never enough
I’m always in line, but I’m never in love
I get so down, but I won’t give up
I get so down, but I won’t give up
I get so down, but I won’t give up

Been fighting things that I can’t see
Like voices coming from the inside of me …

Positation-the new positive-thinking

Shit happens, but shit does not define me ~ I have Positation [hands off it’s my new word]. Or at least I’m trying to damn it?!

 The health benefits of  [Positation] from the Mayo clinic.com

Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:   

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

How to’s of Positation also from the Mayo Clinic

  • Check yourself. Periodically during the day, stop and evaluate what you’re thinking. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.
  • Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek humor in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.
  • Follow a healthy lifestyle. Exercise at least three times a week to positively affect mood and reduce stress. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body. And learn to manage stress.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people, those who believe they have no power over their lives, may increase your stress level and may make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.
  • Practice positive self-talk. Start by following one simple rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about yourself.

Examples of typical negative self-talk from–you guessed it–Mayo.com, and positive altenatives.  (With personal edits in blue, because Mayonites don’t use bad language, but I f****** do. Ok so I’m having a tough day with positation-eat me!) 

Negative self-talk Positive spin
I’ve never done it before ~ so why the f*** should I do it now It’s an opportunity to learn something new.
It’s too complicated ~ I don’t even know how to change the channel on my new TV I’ll tackle it from a different angle.
I don’t have the resources ~ I’m SOL and broke Necessity is the mother of invention.
I’m too lazy to get this done ~ Where’s the damn remote? I wasn’t able to fit it into my schedule but can re-examine some priorities.
There’s no way it will work ~ and neither will I. I am having a major case of anal blindness. I just don’t see my ass going to work today. I can try to make it work.
It’s too radical a change ~ just sounds completely pointless, I’ll never be able to Let’s take a chance.
No one bothers to communicate with me ~ no one loves me, boo hoo I’ll see if I can open the channels of communication.
I’m not going to get any better at this ~there’s always death by chocolate I’ll give it another try.

So, why bother with POSITATION? (These are my thoughts not Mayo’s. Actually mine are more like mustard, the sharp kind with lumpy bits in.)

  • Because your friends, if you have any left, are sick and tired of your “poor me” attitude, and you used to be a fun kind of person to hang out with
  • Because your life really does suck and something needs to change, and the only thing you can really change is yourself
  • Because shit happens, will continue to happen, and is usually outside of your control
  • Because life actually can be better than it is
  • Because the alternatives suck more

 The whole theory in a picture — for you dumb asses who can’t be bothered to read the above –from theawareproject.org.