Tag Archives: abuse

The year I was 14

The year I turned 14, my dad moved me and my sister to Valencia. The supposed reason was to escape our being bused into the inner city.  But that’s not what this blog is about.











This was the year I lived alone with my dad and sister while my mother, grandmother (Omy) and one brother stayed in Woodland Hills.  I was in the 9th grade, an awkward, painfully shy young girl.  Most of the kids in our new neighborhood had lived in the area all their lives, and they had already formed cliques and attachments. I didn’t fit in….my clothes weren’t hip enough for me to be popular. I was too smart for most of the kids (geeks, unite!) and even they already had their closed circles, so I hung out with the stoners and outcasts, and quite frankly, much older boys. I was painfully lonely and missed my mother and Omy.

iced cocktail










This was the year my father taught me how to make his three favorite drinks: Manhattans, Tom Collins, and Tom and Jerry’s.  I would mix them for him, and of course one for me as well.  We would sit and have a drink together before I would get dinner ready. He would ask me about school, and I would ask him about work.  It was very cozy and crazy there in Valencia.

german shepherd dog








We had a German Shepherd that my father locked in the dark in the garage during the day.  To this day I don’t know why he couldn’t just let her roam the backyard. But then, my father also liked to kill animals and was very cruel to them in other ways.  The first thing I would do when I came home from school would be to let her out, clean out her mess in the garage, and then take her for a long walk and bring her into the house. Those walks were very soothing for me.  My sister and I weren’t particularly close, especially since she was in junior high and I was in high school, so we didn’t have any common experiences to unite us.  There was a lot of animosity, jealousy and jockeying for favor with my father, which didn’t help the situation.

This was the year I started writing my novel.  I would spend hours locked away in my bedroom after school while my sister watched TV, scribbling away, doing my best to escape my reality.  My father would come home and I would cook dinner.  I generally had already cleaned the house and helped my sister finish her homework, and had done the laundry.  It was very domestic.  Looking back on this now as an adult—Too domestic, Today CPS would have hauled both my parents away.

My mother and Omy were still in Woodland HIlls as they refused to leave, so my father maintained two households, in a very bizarre way. I don’t remember too many phone calls from or to my mother that year.

14 was the year I lost my virginity to a local boy.  I was so desperate for love and attention, and if this is what it took, that is what I was willing to give.  It set up a pattern that lasted deep into young adulthood for me.  I learned to equate sex with love.

Eventually my mother demanded that we come back home.  Sadly, by this time I had finally made friends, and leaving them was a wrench.  I had to go back to my old school, with friends who had new experiences and friends they had made the year while I was gone.  So the shcool friends I had grown up with, had grown past me and formed new attachments.  I had gone from being connected to being disconnected.  Looking back at it now, it created a new pattern in my life that lasted for a long time —- not getting too close to people, as you could be pulled away from them at any time.  It would appear that I had deep friendships while I was feeling alone and separate on the inside.

I have mentioned in other blog posts that I slept with my father until I was 11 and had my first period. I still to this day don’t know what my father did to me.  At the very least it was an inappropriate relationship.  If there’s more it’s buried so deeply inside of me that I think it will only come out when he is gone, if then.  I have forgiven him for what he has done; forgiveness is a loving gift you give to yourself, not to others. Forgiveness is what allows me to write about these things. The deep seated pain is not there anymore.  The memories and the actions will always be there, but the pain isn’t as strong as it once was.

It took many years of therapy and crying to get past a lot of the darkness that I grew up in.  But I can tell you, you can get through it.  And I learned something critically important in the process of healing—-there is nothing inside of you, no memory, that can destroy you. You have already lived through the worst of it and survived.  Now it’s time to let go of that pain and anger and claim the life you want to live.

I hope my words in these blogs help you to understand that what happened to you is the past, and you have the power to write new chapters in your life, and be happy.

Changing your relationship with food

Changing my relationship with food has been a lifelong journey.








I have always struggled with my emotions and food. When I was growing up my father would dish out food depending on how he felt about you. My older brother was his favorite, so he got the biggest and the best pieces of meat. I was given mostly starches like rice and potatoes with a little bit of meat. We were not poor; my parents owned three houses and there were two late-model Mercedes Benz in the driveway. It was about my father having control. As an adult I still sometimes struggle with anger when I feel like there is not enough food or there is nothing available that I like to eat.

whiskey bottle







My mother was an alcoholic. She would walk to the local Stop-and-Go to buy a jug of Gallo wine, cigarettes and beer. She hid her alcohol purchases from my father and would bring us chocolate candy bars to keep us quiet. I learned very quickly that food is a reward. I still think of food as a reward for “good behavior” and have to remind myself that food is for nutrition.

I was a preemie so I got sick quite often as a young girl. I learned that this was the time I would get my mother’s undivided attention so I must admit I got “sick” a little more often than I really was. My mother would make me soup and I would lay on the couch under a blanket and watch soap operas with her. My mother and I had an extremely fragile relationship. She was a paranoid schizophrenic who had tried to smother me with a pillow when I was four years old, so I was always very careful around her. But she was my mother and I desperately needed to be loved. When I was upset my mother fed me mayonnaise sandwiches to soothe me. Yes, mayonnaise sandwiches. My mother lived in Europe during World War 2 when meat was seriously rationed and this was what she learned to eat. She would slather Best Foods mayonnaise on Jewish rye bread and feed that to me. Only Best Foods and only rye bread.

Best Foods MayonnaiseJewish Rye BreadI learned that food represented love and it was one of the few things that connected me to her. Years later whenever I was sad, angry or anxious I would reach for a mayonnaise sandwich. When she died and cut me out of her will (my sister told her I was plotting to kill her) I ate an entire loaf of mayonnaise sandwiches in one sitting. It took me a long time to stop eating those. It wasn’t the taste, it was the connection to her that I craved. Today I no longer eat mayonnaise sandwiches even in my most emotional times.

My mother would making huge batches of cupcakes. There were times I didn’t want to eat “my” cupcake but I knew that my brother or sister would eat mine, so I would lick the frosting in front of them and then put my cupcake back in the fridge. Sometimes my siblings would eat my cupcake anyway, so I learned that I had to eat it even if I wasn’t hungry. To this day I can get very territorial with my food, kind of like a dog that growls when you come near his food bowl. I spent many years mentally beating myself up whenever I over-ate, ate emotionally and didn’t take care of myself.

The truth is I had no idea how to take care of myself. I was taught to abuse myself, not nurture myself. With counseling and coaching I have learned to be aware of these destructive behaviors and to stop myself most of the time. Do I slip? You bet I do. But what I have learned is that slipping is not a moral flaw. It doesn’t make me a bad person, and I can forgive myself and make better choices next time. I could not have learned how to do this by myself. I needed a coach.

If you struggle with any issues like this or others, it helps to have a professional who can guide you to make better choices and change your habits and your future.  This is no different than any kind of training; you need to learn from a professional who has tools that you don’t.  There is no shame in this; professional coaches care about you and your future.

A Lost Day

depression image





Today was a lost day. I woke up trembling; sad for no reason.  I wasn’t in control of my emotions. My brain chemical imbalance had taken over and there was no stopping the tears, anguish and feelings of helplessness and rage. My breakthrough depression had arrived and no amount of meds was going to control it.

I tried anyway, desperately macking down both my bupropion and clonazepam.  Perhaps a shower and getting ready for work would work. What could I do for distraction? Maybe endless games of spider solitaire or working on my upcoming photography exhibit. Anything to stop this galloping pain. Too late. It was already upon me. I curled into a fetal ball. Waves of sadness rushed over me. Tears oozed out of my eyes. Sadness engulfed me. I got to my extra meds too late. I would just have to ride out the storm.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net









I cried endlessly, full of unreasoning sadness. I mentally berated myself. I am a loser. I’m too fat, too old, too stupid, too whatever. It didn’t matter— I’d never measure up. Who was I trying to kid? Everybody knows what a loser I am. This is the way my inner voice beats me up. There’s a part of me that isn’t listening. It’s the part of me that has braved this storm before, has survived the endless tempests. Deep inside myself I know that this will pass.  I just need to be strong enough to last through it. I think of curt cobain and any wine house and know the pain they were going through and how it finally engulfed them. I’m one of the fortunate ones. I’ve survived and I know from bitter experience just how this is going to go. I’m going to lose today. Today is a throw away day.

Ernie understands as well. He kisses the back of my neck…one of my vulnerable spots, and tells me he loves me and he’s sorry I’m going to go through this today. He jokes with me in an attempt to distract me and coax a smile from me with some silly story about the Dodgers. I look at him; this man who has stood beside me through some horrible times and think of how much I love him and how without him and his unconditional love I probably would not still be on this earth.









He leaves for the office. It’s payday and my staff is waiting. I know he wishes to stay with me but he knows my agents need to be paid and I need to be alone. He trusts me not to do anything stupid. Ernie and I understand this too will pass. I spend the day trying to just get by. I don’t stop the tears. I just let them ooze out of me. I have learned that they need to fall; they carry catharsis and healing inside of them. They will be salty and slightly bitter today as they purge pain from me. I know I just need to get through today. I need to let the chemical imbalance in my brain sort itself out. I know that no amount of drugs food or alcohol will heal me.  At best I have learned to manage my depression. I’ve survived and know to just let this pain run its course. I know that it does have an end. I know too that it will come again and I will again lose a day of my life. But …more importantly … I will not lose my entire life. Just a day here and there. I accept that  as payment for the remaining days I have that are filled with joy. There are others who suffer from worse types of depression such as bi-polar or schizophrenia, I now only deal with this type of pain on occasion.  It used to consume me. This knowledge is an enormous gift.

I decided to put something happy here, the retreat Ernie created for me

I decided to put something happy here, the retreat Ernie created for me

I have been asked recently if my employees know about these mental shit storms or do I hide it. Oh, they know. I will not hide this anymore. They know. They care about me anyway and text me through the day. They may not understand it but they accept it. I cannot lie about this. I need them to help protect me and they thus must know. Depression has such a horrible stigma to it. But I have faith that by showing how happy and positive I am the other days of the month they will understand that this is something out of my control. If they judge if let it be with kindness and understanding and knowledge not fear.   All photos are original and the property of the author.  Permission to use is granted if you reference www.HealingJourneyBlog.com in the photo credit.

Windshield Wiperblades and Abandonment

Abandonment seems to be a recent theme in my life. I blogged about it on February 24th http://www.healingjourneyblog.com/2014/02/24/abandonment/ and it kicked back up again today. It’s amazing to me how quickly and easily abandonment issues can cloud seemingly simple situations.  I was leaving the parking lot of my office and noticed that there was a small leaf stuck in the windshield wiper.  We were in the middle of a storm and there had been a lull, so I got out to lift the windshield wiper to remove the leaf so I wouldn’t have a streak on my windshield driving home.  I lifted the windshield wiper, and it came off completely. Here’s what I was worried about driving in. rain video

This is what I was afraid my drive would look like. Image courtesy of designtaxi.com

Now, this is a seemingly simple thing, right? Oops.  Pull into a parking space and reconnect it, and go home.  If  you don’t struggle with abandonment issues, that’s probably what you would do.  However, my heart clenched, my throat closed, and old fears of being lost and alone rose up, paralyzing me.  What was I going to do? I couldn’t figure it out! My stress level instantly spiked and rage engulfed me.  I needed to get home, and now I couldn’t.  I called my husband, choking back tears and raging at him what do I need to do!?!?!? My beloved Ernie, well used to and unaffected by these tear storms other than to comfort me, told me to take a deep breath and drive to the local car repair shop. Other fears kicked up….I didn’t want to look stupid.  Dumb woman who can’t put a simple windshield wiper back on.  It’s amazing how your self-talk can beat the living crap out of you without anyone seeing it on the outside. I drove to the mechanic, and sat in my car for a few minutes, trying to calm myself down and let the tears subside. I went into the shop and the kind manager tried to fix it for me, but no go. He couldn’t figure out the mechanics of the connection either.  Is it terrible to say I felt a little bit better and a little less stupid right then? He asked me to pull into a service bay and called a few mechanics over.  Another man tried and he couldn’t figure it out. Then they called in their heavy hitter.  He worked on it, trying to figure out the lever. Finally he got the mechanism open and fixed it.  I almost burst into tears. I could make it home now!windshield wiper He shook my hand. I kissed his hand and then kissed him on the neck, thanking him profusely.  He smiled, embarrassed and said it was no big deal.  He was probably puzzled about why this woman was so overwrought over a broken windshield wiper. I stressed the entire drive home, praying that the windshield wiper would hold and I could get home safely to Ernie.  When I got home I collapsed on the bed, the tears that had been threatening the entire drive finally able to release. I sobbed and Ernie, wonderful Ernie, held me in his arms and told me I was safe, that everything was okay.IMG_1625 Abused children grow up to become adults with deep abandonment fears.  They are not logical fears, yet they are 100% real fears.  It wasn’t the windshield wiper that was worrying me. It was that I couldn’t go home, that I didn’t know what to do.  My life had shrunk in a few seconds down to the size of a windshield wiper blade. It’s not rational, but it’s real, and it’s a horrible feeling. I also blog at www.SusysMusings.com and check out this other blog on abandonment http://www.susysmusings.com/2014/03/06/sentri-pass-healing