Adult Children

Pins and Needles: Chronic Abuse and Trauma

Our formative years present the potential for self-harm to thrive. Our early experiences, for better or worse, shape us. And sometimes, that shaping can take the form of addiction. Hypervigilance often results from certain incidents, in which trauma somehow established our need to self-medicate.

"... When a child grows up afraid or under constant or extreme stress, the immune system and body’s stress response systems may not develop normally. Later on, when the child or adult is exposed to even ordinary levels of stress, these systems may automatically respond as if the individual is under extreme stress... Adults with histories of trauma in childhood have been shown to have more chronic physical conditions and problems. They may engage in risky behaviors that compound these conditions (e.g., smoking, substance use, and diet and exercise habits that lead to obesity)." "Effects of Complex Trauma," http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/complex-trauma/effects-of-complex-trauma

My first memory, a traumatic one at that, was when I was three years old; my parents decided to move the family’s sewing machine from one floor of our house to another. But they neglected to remove its drawers, filled with hundreds of needles and pins. Inevitably, I toddled downstairs, stepping on many of them.

The Heart: A Wild Creature

This statement, from its anonymous author, recently caught my attention:

"Hearts are wild creatures. That's why our ribs are cages."

Its focus, the heart and the rib cage, hit home. For I have had a disordered history with both.
My obsession with the thin physique created my descent into anorexia and its painful heart issues.

"...I could count all of my ribs. I still wasn't thin enough; it wasn't good enough..."*

As I've been in recovery from eating disorders, food, weight and body image issues, yes, I've had to deal with my heart. That, therefore, includes the related topics of passions, desires and idolatry.

Power In Discovering Your Audience

Coming from a theater background, I'm no stranger to an audience.

"All the world's a stage... And one man in his time plays many parts..."

In William Shakespeare's play, "As You Like It," Act II Scene VII, purpose-filled life is compared to that of a theatre stage.

How much more does that apply for those of us recovering from addiction, disorder or abuse?

Besides my theater background, I also have an eating disorder history as well. In college, I battled both anorexia and bulimia.

Indeed, during my sophomore year, desperate in my bulimic behavior, I began to dumpster dive...

"... I'd try to play it off, pretending everything was normal as people passed by me scrounging in the dumpster... in broad daylight... I couldn't hide any longer from others what I was doing... people were noticing..."*
*Excerpt from Sheryle Cruse's book, "Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder"

This was an unwelcomed audience for me.

Nevertheless, people saw. And, no matter how I tried, I could not escape the Presence of the Most High.

For a long time, I fought God.

What’s in My Suitcase?

I have this roll around bag I carry with me every day to work. In it, I carry my journal, extra pens, a small laptop, and anything else I think I might need for the day. I decided to get a bag that had rollers because the one I carried over my shoulder grew too heavy for me. I wish I could do the same for the other baggage I have carried with me over the years.

The other suitcase I carry with me has no handle. It resides within the chambers of my heart and the confines of my soul. It has years of control, co-dependency, self-blame, regret, sadness, grief, and pain within it. As I face Step Four of my recovery journey, I know there is more in that piece of luggage. I know there are things I haven’t admitted to yet. I know there are probably even things I am not aware of. But I know this is an important step in the recovery from my past.

These issues I have carried with me are common for people like me. I haven’t always known this to be true. Working diligently on making a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself showed me this. Reading Psalm 139:23-24 guides me toward God’s loving arms to reveal the truth about me.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

I ask God to search and know my heart. I ask him to

Nature vs. Nurture: An Unanswered Question?

Nature versus nurture: it's still an unanswered question. And that mystery applies to all things appearance.

Faces have always captured my attention. I am fascinated by the variety of features and expressions they contain.

A Couple of Kittens...

I first was obsessed with my mother's set of three cat figurines. There was one "mother cat" and her two smaller white kittens. I was especially preoccupied with the kittens.

And here, perhaps, is where I encountered one of my first harmful disordered ideas about image. I viewed one kitten as cuter, a/k/a, "better" than the other. Why? It was because this kitten- let's call her "Sally"- appeared to have a sweeter, more pleasing, "good kitty" facial expression. The other kitten, however, had more of a "Sophia- Loren- exotic- eyeliner-drawn- face" situation going on.

And, somehow, to me, that kitten face - let's call her "Sophia"- symbolized more mischief and displeasing, "bad kitty" behaviors than that of innocent-and-cute-looking Sally.

Indeed, in this kitten context, my toddler self was already learning inaccurate appearance associations all on my own.

But soon, other influences contributed to my preferences. Adults also instructed me about which emotions, often depicted in the human face, were acceptable - and which were not.

An Image Utensil?

Playing Hide and Seek with God?

I searched hurriedly to find just the right hiding place. Breathless I hid silently behind the shower curtain in my parents shower. A giggle slipped from my mouth and I quickly cupped my hand to keep it quiet. I could barely hear my friend counting... 6... 7...8 ...9... 10! Ready or not, here I come! My heart raced for fear I would be found.

I'm sure you remember the exhilaration and suspense of playing hide and seek with your friends. Now that I am older, I no longer play this childhood game with my friends or anyone else—or do I?

Listening in the Quiet (Pain, Loss & Suffering)

The historical account of Job is one of pain, loss, suffering, and God's wise control. The long and short of this book of the Bible is this: Job was a stand-up guy. He was faithful to God. He had a family, a farm, and a good life. One day, God and Satan were having a conversation about Job and his faithfulness to God. Satan believes he can turn Job against God and God accepts the challenge. While God is watching, Job loses everything. He loses his farm, his wife, and his sons.

Okay, let's stop there. So, God allowed Satan to test Job's faithfulness? Yes, but you see, while God allowed this, He was in complete control the entire time. God knows all things; therefore, He knew Job would remain faithful. So why would God allow Job's suffering? I don't know the answer to that for sure, but I believe there is purpose in our pain. I believe that God works all things according to His purpose and for my good.

In the end, Job remained faithful to the Lord and he was rewarded for his faithfulness. The same is true for me and for you. What does this have to do with Step Four?

While working through my searching and fearless moral inventory, I have to remain faithful to God. I know His

The Trigger of Grief

In the work of recovery, we address the danger of triggers. Its very word itself suggests the power to cause us harm:

"Something that precipitates a particular event or situation; To set off; initiate; To fire or explode."


On one August morning of 2003, I encounter such a trigger. The phone rang. My dad was dead.

My grief, for the next year and a half, was an alarming, unexpected reality. And each subsequent "anniversary" proves equally tricky also. Both defy what I thought I would - or should - be experiencing.

After all, coming from an abusive childhood, I didn't think the loss of this pain-inflicting parent would register as significantly as it did.

Let it All Go: Hurts, Anger, Resentment, Frustration

...that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.Romans 10:9


Some days I am just tired. Some days I have a difficult time with letting go and giving my worries to God. Some days I have the full confidence I can let God be God and other days I want to wrestle control back into my grip. Do you ever feel this way?

The Mother-Daughter Tug-of-War

It's been said the mother-daughter relationship is the most complicated dynamic around. Therefore, most of us can see why eating disorder behaviors often arise within these relationships. The influential modeling of mother on daughter impacts her beauty values.

But the issue goes beyond just appearance; the enmeshment creates a tug of war for control and autonomy.

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