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

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

Hope for the Future

John’s passage describing his “revelation” succinctly explains the perspective of the Church and the reason why things have been so slow to change.

Catholics4Change

Click here to read: “I Was Once a Victim,” by John Salveson, class of ’77, ’78 M.A., Notre Dame Magazine, Summer 2013

Excerpt:

Slowly, eventually, I figured out the reason for the lack of progress within the Church. It really was simple. I had long believed the Roman Catholic Church considered the child sex-abuse crisis to be a moral issue. So I expected clergy to care about the victims and to do the right thing.

But the simple truth I had learned over time was this: Much of the Catholic leadership does not view this as a moral issue. They view it as a risk-management issue. The focus is on managing settlements, keeping the topic out of the media, telling the faithful everything is taken care of and, most of all, doing everything humanly possible to ensure none of these cases ever make it into a court of law.

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Switchfoot, “Thrive”

Video

 “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 …

Murder, Suicide and God’s Plan

Someone posted a letter on-line today with news of the death of a Benedictine monk – his abuser. The death may have brought “closure” for his abuser, he reflected, but not for him.  Over the years he had planned then rejected both murder and suicide, but now he expressed sadness — for victims, but also for his abuser who, he realizes, must have been a troubled and twisted individual. The writer ended the letter with a blessing for his abuser!  I was shocked. To have moved from considering murder, not so many years ago, to offering a blessing was incredible, I hesitate to use the word but — miraculous.

In his words:

“Today I visited Montserrat Abbey, the oldest Benedictine monastery in existence. I went into the Church. I don’t know God’s plan for me, I don’t know God’s plan for Fr. Roger, but in my own simple way, I said – And May God bless him.            
                                                      C Michael Coode (SNAP  Tennessee)

Here was a victim who had retained his faith in God and was now dedicated to advocating for and supporting other victims through the National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) and through leadership in his local branch of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and religious (SNAP).  He had maintained his faith in God despite the overwhelming proof of negligence, deceit, and denial by the Catholic Bishops. He could still enter a monastery and not run out shaking and crying. He could still pray to a God he believes has a Plan.

I know one thing with absolute certainty: If there is a God and if there is a Plan it doesn’t involve abuse of children. What makes most sense to me is that God’s plan — call it “the best of all possible worlds” — is thwarted every time someone chooses to reject God in favor of doing evil. And so God has to adjust the plan. My heart tells me that in responding to evil with a blessing Michael has more than lived up to what God would hope for. There is NOTHING more powerful and more loving and healing in the world than responding to evil with goodness, offering a blessing instead of creating more suffering — by hurting oneself or others. 

So, I responded to his post and offered Michael a blessing:

May you be blessed and comforted, may the light of Goodness shine upon you and bring you peace, and may you be filled with the healing power of Grace. You are my hero today.

To read the letter in its entirety you can go here:

 http://nationalsurvivoradvocatescoalition.wordpress.com/___-8/

For those who are struggling today

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be.
                                                                                                Anne Frank

This poignant, optimistic comment was written by a young Jewish women who spent two years hiding in an attic unable to enjoy the world of nature she describes. It is good to be reminded of the things we take for granted: nature, beauty. Even if we are not sure of God, nature is always there to show us the cycle of life and death and life that is enacted every year. Some days that is enough.

One Mother’s Son

Conceived in poverty
raised in a working man’s home
taught a trade

Catching his dream only to have it stolen
doing the bidding of a father
so much more to give
duty bound

Did he fulfill one father’s demands
or watch it all turn to sand and flow
between his fingers
desperately grasping

Will death be a comfort to this
one mother’s son
or will he cry out in pain
recognising his betrayer as he gasps

Will he stare at the horizon
willing the sun to hold back from setting
begging for one more moment one more breath
preferring the pain to oblivion

And will he surrender at last and breathe
It is done as tears fall on his cooling cheeks
and jackals gather to gnaw on his bones

Oh that in death he could meet
one loving father’s embrace
and hear
you did well, son,
you did well.

This poem began as a poem about my dad, and then became a poem about Jesus, too. Or the other way around. I’m not sure now. It just took shape around 3.15 am.

Finding Healing in Broken Places–my new project.

I have a new project, “Finding Healing in Broken Places.” I am going to try and pull together some journal reflections on religious faith and the pursuit of  healing after suffering trauma and abuse. I want it to be hopeful and I want it to address the issues of healing from trauma and loss in a broader sense than just sexual abuse. So I think my energy will move there. I will leave these reflections on-line and I hope they will continue to be of some use. Thanks.

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.