“My Wish” a poem I wrote many years ago.

                                         My Wish

                              By Dave Shreve

  

One day I caught a leprechaun, And he told me a story so true.

He said “you can have three wishes, Anything I will give to you”.

He said I could have a racecar, Any kind that I like.

Or I could have the planet Mars, Or even a motorbike.

He said I could have a million bucks, Or all the gold in the world.

Or I could have the universe, Or even my hair uncurled.

As he told me all I could have, Off my shirt I picked some fuzz.

Then when he finished, I told him what my wish always was.

I don’t want a racecar, Any kind that I like.

I don’t want the planet Mars, Or even a motorbike.

I don’t want a million bucks, Or all the gold in the world.

And I don’t want the universe, Or even my hair uncurled.

Then I told him what I wanted, as I stared at the stars above

I said to him with a tear in my eye.

All I ever wanted was just to be loved.

 

 

Abuse: Forgiveness vs Understanding

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I am writing this post on abuse. Physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse. I am not a professional, these are my opinions based on my experiences, things I have read and studied and people I have had intimate discussions with about this subject. My only motive is to try to give the reader a different way of looking at the subject. I do not believe that we as people are made from a cookie cutter. So I do not believe that the ideas within conventional therapy work for everyone. My hope here is that someone who reads this will find some peace and understanding and will benefit from the ideas I have expressed.

If you have even just a few close personal friendships, then you probably know someone who has been abused. Physical, sexual, mental and/or emotional, it doesn’t matter what kind of abuse it is. It is a horrible thing to experience. And to make it worse, most of the time, the abuse to a child is inflicted by someone who is suppose to be protecting them and loving them. The scars inflicted on the victim never really go away. Some people deal with the memories and pain of abuse, better than others. I believe how well you deal with it has more to do with your emotional ability to reason through the experiences, than anything else.

People who haven’t been abused don’t understand or have more of a predisposition to burying emotional hurts. They will say things like “get over it” or “ it was the past, let it go” but quite often, that is easier said than done. What I have learned from others and especially my own experiences is that as long as I live, there will always be triggers that remind me of something painful from my past and there will always be people in my life that do and say things that cause my fears and anxieties to resurface. And it is my choice on how I deal with these anxieties and fears. Do I let them ruin my day, or do I except them for what they are (the past) take a deep breath and remind myself, that I am not going to be a victim any longer.

If you go to church and ask a religious leader what you should do, often you are told to forgive your abuser, forgive the people who didn’t protect you from the abuser and forgive yourself. That is real easy to say. But the action involved can be the hardest thing you have ever come up against. To a point I can understand why others believe that forgiveness is the key to healing. Because if that is how you deal with your pain, then you can find healing in forgiveness. But being able to forgive someone for hurting you so bad is not as easy for some people as for others. Forgiveness isn’t always the same thing to everyone. It has many levels. And forgiveness does not mean forgetting, it does not mean you are responsible for anything that someone else did to you, and it does not mean you have to let your abuser back in your life at any capacity. One of  the benefits of it is, is that forgiveness allows you to release the anger and not allow the memories to upset you all the time, ruin your relationships and make you miserable, because of something someone else did to you. And another part of forgiveness is understanding the whole picture. Realizing and accepting your innocence and knowing that NO ONE is deserving of abuse, especially a child. But again, it is very hard for some people to find the ability to “just forgive”. And I understand that.

The good news is there are other ways to find peace. Finding peace doesn’t mean forgiving, yet it is often a byproduct. It doesn’t mean forgetting. It means understanding. Understanding and coming to terms with what happened, why it happened and how it happened. I know each and every situation is different. Yet they almost always are deeply connected with one of a few factors.

No Normal, Right minded human being would abuse another human being. If someone is an abuser (regardless of how normal they seem) they have something terribly skewed in their mind.

Alcohol:

Alcohol abuse has been a factor in the abuse of others for as long as it has been around. Many people do stupid things when they are drunk, they act in ways they would never act when they are sober and do things they would never do when not under the influence. This is unfortunately true when it comes to abuse too. Quite often some of the gentlest people become angry and mean when they have had too much to drink. This is because of the affects alcohol has on the brain.

For example: There have been studies that show support to a cognitive disorganization interpretation of the effect of alcohol on aggression. One study sites: “The cognitive disorganization hypothesis posits that alcohol abuse increases the likelihood of violence, because it interferes with communication among family members and results in misinterpretation of social cues, overestimation of perceived threats, and underestimation of the consequences of violence.”

Studies also show the effects of alcohol on “The deviance disavowal hypothesis suggesting that the perpetrator attributes the violence to his or her alcohol abuse and thus avoids or minimizes personal responsibility for the violent behavior.” And thirdly, studies have indicated that “The disinhibition hypothesis proposes that alcohol’s pharmacological actions on the brain interfere with the actions of those brain centers that control (i.e., inhibit) socially unacceptable behaviors.”

Now by no means does this excuse the abuser. Please don’t get me wrong on that. If someone chooses to abuse alcohol or drugs, knowing full well that they act inappropriately under the influence, then they are guilty of whatever they do while under the influence. (EX: Someone chooses to drink, chooses under the influence to drive. Has an accident and injures or kills someone. They are guilty and are going to spend a long time behind bars) Being drunk doesn’t excuse anyone from their actions. As far as I am concerned and generally speaking, if someone physically, sexually, emotionally or mentally abuses a woman or child while under the influence, they had a predisposition to do this when they were sober. They where just better in control of their social cues when sober.

Alcoholism is a terrible disease. It is very sad that people get caught up in any type of addiction. All children dream of what they will be when they grow up. A princess, a truck driver, president or a doctor, etc. They all have hopes and dreams. No one hopes to be a drunken abuser or a failure in anyway. It is sad when a life is exposed to things that make being intoxicated a way to escape the horror and pain. Everyone of us was once a child, innocent and with lots of potential. But life has a way of hurting us to the point of such desperation, that we create a counterfeit identity for ourselves, simply to protect ourselves from life.

Emotional Damage:

For some children life is so bad that is causes them such pain and fear that they create an alternate identity, often that identity is a very confused and even a selfish identity. Just like with alcohol, mental and emotional turmoil can cause many similar disorders as disinhibition hypothesis, cognitive disorganization hypothesis and deviance disavowal hypothesis. (listed and defined above). The innocence of a child is so drastically impaired from pain and fear, that in the child’s own mind, (what he or she is seeing being done), becomes acceptable behavior. Because that is what the child is taught, by example and forced into by fear. And whatever the child does to help him or herself cope with the pain, becomes an emotional safe place when they get older.

It becomes such a part of their subconscious, that they don’t even realize it is a habitual coping device. They would claim, “They believe it is normal. It’s just their personality”. This is why so often, the abused, become the abuser. Not because they were born monsters. But because they have been hurt so badly, that their minds have been terribly discombobulated with the painful information that they have received by example. It’s like the little boy in 3rd grade that is labeled a bully. Always beating up someone. It’s because his daddy is always beating him and his mommy. People don’t think about what has happened to the boy. They just see his behaviors and then label him bad.

And again, like I said about alcohol, This is NOT an excuse for hurting someone else. Across the board, it is never ok to hurt an innocent victim. This post is simply my way of trying to help the reader see the whole picture, to gain understanding in order to promote healing.

Mental & Emotional Illness:

Unlike the previous two examples of why people become abusers. There is also those who are born with a predisposition to mental or emotional illness. Unfortunately, there are a lot of mental and emotional illnesses that can cause someone to not have a proper perspective of what are and are not socially acceptable behaviors. And these illnesses can be so obvious to everyone, or so subtle that you wouldn’t know they had problems, unless you were real close to them. Often, but not always mental and emotional illness is hereditary. And society only wants to label the extreme cases as a problem, yet we all know the person at work, that everyone says that they have thought in the back of their minds that this person is going to go postal one of these days.

With all three examples I have used, the common denominator is the torment, the inability for them to correctly interpret social cues and the loss of reality, that leads to such a dysfunctional way of seeing life, justice and compassion for others. (Before I say anymore, let me say this: I do NOT excuse or condone any type of abuse and I believe anyone who abuses another person, needs to be institutionalized. They are a danger to society and will only further the abuse and pain) Often people label abusers as the devil. ”Evil to the core.”  When in reality abusers are more often scared, hurt, confused children in adult bodies. Whatever has caused them so much pain, has also altered their sense of right and wrong. They act out of an altered sense of perception of life.

Forgiveness and understanding is not for the abuser, it is for the victim. To help them heal, find peace, release themselves from the pain, grief and guilt. My prayer for the victim is that they learn to love and be loved. That they don’t follow destructive behaviors, but find peace in their hearts and minds. I so badly wish I could hug every person who was ever abused. Hug them and tell them how much they deserve love. My heart breaks for the hurting.

http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications

My New Tattoo; Wile E. Coyote “SUPER GENIUS”

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Image

Why Wile E. Coyote?

Wile E. is a go-getter, he is not a quitter and he has high self esteem, in spite of his failures. Wile E.’s creativity surpasses any other character on TV. He is always figuring out new ways to catch the Roadrunner. And though he has never gotten the opportunity to delight his pallet on a tender juicy Roadrunner, he never ceases to try. Wile E. sees himself as a “Super Genius” this fact may be argued by most everyone who has ever watch him in action, but in his mind he is. And frankly I have to agree with him. So many people these days try something once, twice maybe even 3 times. Then they give up. Wile E. never stops trying. And that persistence he has is what it takes to succeed. Not brains, not talent, not money, but the perseverance to get up when you fall and try, try again. There are some great quotes about this subject:

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
Winston Churchill
All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure.
Mark Twain

Making Positive Changes

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To be successful at making positive changes, you must learn to tune out distractions and pay attention to what is important, today. Because you can’t change the past, and allowing it to hold you back is a huge mistake when trying to make positive changes.

 You cannot change The Past, but you can learn from it.

When the same situation arises, you can do things differently and enjoy a more successful today.

Look at what happened in The Past.

Learn something valuable from it.

Use what you learn to improve today 

Don’t stress over the future (what will happen tomorrow) When you focus to much on the future, you become anxious, Because you can’t act on something until it happens. All you can do is plan for the future, starting now.

 Have you ever heard the expression “One day at a time”? That’s what it means. You can’t change the past and you can’t act on the future till it gets here. So all you can do is live today, focus on today and don’t allow guilt from your past or the anxiety of the future control your thoughts.

 You need to define your purpose. What is important to you. When you live and work with Purpose, and respond to what is important, “One day at a time”. You are more able to lead, manage, support, befriend, and love.

 Success is becoming who you are capable of being. Progressing toward worthwhile goals. Each of us defines for ourselves, what it means to be successful. 

Life will always throw you curves, just keep fouling them off… the right pitch will come, but when it does, be prepared to run the bases. 
Rick Maksian

Learn From Someone Else’s Mistakes

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To learn from someone else’s mistakes is a prize greater than any lottery. In this post, I am offering the opportunity for someone to learn from my mistakes. I am 46 years old. I have read books and papers, listened to lectures, and shared knowledge with counselors about the subjects surrounding emotional behaviors. I am not a professional. This is just an interest of mine that I am passionate about.

The experience that I hope someone can learn from is simple. Get help!! If you are struggling with low self esteem, depression, anger or just a broken heart, seek professional help. As a young adult, I started reading books and papers about emotional issues. My interest combined with my experiences have made it all seem very easy to understand. I believed I could deal with my own problems by myself in their entirety. I found that ignoring issues worked very well for me. I became a pro at it. When a problem arose, I would choose to ignore it and eventually it would work itself out. In many cases this idea did work which only reinforced my point (in my own head).

I have grown to be a big man – 6′ 6″, 240 lbs. I look like a wrestler (so I’ve been told), yet emotionally I am very fragile. Recently some events in my life have occurred as a result of my “ignoring issues” that have severely crippled my walls around my heart. I have officially been broken. The only good thing about this is the realization of my condition. Yet at 46 years old, I am concerned my fears and beliefs about myself are so deeply ingrained in my subconscious that I will never be able to escape.

Let me offer you some information about fear and low self-esteem. Any type of emotional pain is like a virus. It gets into the deepest parts of who you are, sets up camp and then unleashes its wrath. Our self-esteem reflects our opinions and judgments of ourselves and the importance we place on ourselves as a person. The definition of low self-esteem is having an inadequate belief or judgment about ourselves, which is held without actual proof, and we then consider ourselves to be of little importance. The root of low self-esteem is negative beliefs about oneself, believing you are bad, or stupid, or unworthy.

Mind you, our beliefs are only opinions, not facts. If you have ever seen American Idol tryouts, you see a great example of this. Some of the worst singers, BELIEVED they were great, BELIEVED they could be the next American Idol. Yet the facts proved different. Your negative beliefs are the opinions reached as a result of your experiences, usually your earliest observations of facts or events. The existence of negatives and the lack of positives can add to them. Again using the American Idol contestant as an example, someone, probably a parent or a good friend, tells them what a great singer they are, deceiving them with a biased opinion. This can also work when a parent belittles a child or kids on the play ground make fun of and bully another child. Their biased opinions (NOT FACTS) are translated to the victim as truth about his or herself which plants seeds of negativity in the heart of this child.

Negative beliefs lead to the development of rules for living that enable you to function in the world despite your negative beliefs. These rules protect you against your negative beliefs but in the long-run they keep low self-esteem going. I have always had a grim view of myself. Despite what good others have said about me, I have harbored the belief that I am worthless and unlovable. In order to function in society, I choose to ignore these thoughts. I resist them every time they show their ugly head. What I haven’t done in the past, is replace them with positive facts about myself. I have just avoided the self analyzing thoughts completely which in turn have only allowed the negative beliefs to colonize in my subconscious.

Negative expectations of what may occur produce beliefs that you are helpless and not able to stop it. These beliefs cause us to make anxious predictions about the future. These anxious predictions cause us to change our behaviors. We find ourselves avoiding circumstances, ignoring issues that need attention and we adopt a whole range of behaviors to try to make sure our worst fears are not realized. Quite often, especially in relationships, our behaviors cause our fears to come true. For example, someone who falls deeply in love with another person – as a couple some issues or disagreements may arise. The partner living in fear may choose to ignore the issues, fearing they may result in their partner not loving them because facing the issues may reveal a defect in oneself, exposing their failures, all the while hoping the issue will disappear while the other partner desperately wants to resolve the issue. Inevitably the partner that wants to resolve issues becomes frustrated after several of these types of accounts and seeks out another relationship where communication and resolving issues holds a higher priority. Hence the person living in fear has succeeded in filling their own self proclaimed prophecy. Inevitably, the fear ridden person has again been proven that he or she has no self worth, and the belief of being unlovable has been confirmed once again.

When you have the sense that your negative beliefs have been confirmed by experience the result is self-criticism. Self criticism is the fuel to your bad self-esteem. To get control of your thoughts is the first and most effective step to healing. Along with help from a counselor, you need to self-reference. (From an earlier post). Self-Reference is basically talking to yourself, encouraging yourself, only you know all the details about what happened, feelings you are experiencing and your own way of dealing with things. So to reason and manage thoughts and feelings for yourself is very important. Professional help can offer tools to help you self-reference. But ultimately you are the only one who can do the work necessary to promote healing.

The first step in self-reference is to make a note of the words you use to describe yourself when you are being self-critical. These will be words and phrases you will need to pay attention to. Critical thinking is a learned habit, often learned very early in life. Critical thinking is not necessarily based on facts, but opinions which are not always accurate. Self criticism causes you to feel worthless, life seems unfair, it makes it difficult to concentrate, and it clouds the truth and demoralizes you when you are having difficulties.

To combat self-critical thoughts make a record of the thoughts going through your mind when you feel bad. Write down how you feel about the situation, how you feel about yourself and list a column of words describing yourself as you feel at that moment. Next you need to clear your mind. It is time to begin to face the facts with reason and rational thinking. The best way to do this is to focus your mind, imagine you are talking to someone else who was just in the same circumstances that you were just in. Tell the story to yourself, exactly how it played out. Read from your list, one description at a time as if the other person was telling you this about themselves. With each description, look at the situation as if it was someone else’s problem and evaluate the feelings and thoughts that they are telling you. How would you respond to someone else telling you what you wrote down? Make another list and on it write what you would tell someone else about the situation. If they messed up, made a mistake or even a bad decision. Would you beat them up and make them feel worthless? Or would you encourage them? Would you say things like everyone makes mistakes, don’t beat yourself up? Just because you make a mistake, doesn’t mean you are dumb, it means you are human.

Once you have made your second list, study it. If you have an encourager in your life, they can help you by sitting across the table from you and work through your list. The important thing here is to try to see your mistakes from someone else’s perspective. Like I said before, your beliefs are not necessarily based on facts and for someone who lives with fear and low self-esteem, facts are hard to find when analyzing oneself.

To sum it all up, don’t make the mistakes that I have made. I choose to deal with my inner pain by myself and it backfired on me terribly. Seek professional help, don’t wait too long. Seek help NOW!!! Before fear, low self-esteem and all of their side effects set up camp in your subconscious.

REFERENCES:

1) http://www.forwardcounselling.com

There’s Healing for Emotional Abuse Part 2

I have gotten a few messages and a few personal comments from friends concerning this post. What I am hearing is discontent with what I wrote about “forgiveness” I said ” One of the most common and yet crippling myths is that “healing requires forgiveness” of the abuser. For the victim of emotional abuse, the most viable form of help is self-help and a victim handicapped by the need to “forgive” the abuser is a handicapped helper indeed. The most damaging mistake an emotional-abuse victim can make is to invest in the “rehabilitation” of the abuser…….The abuser has no “right” to forgiveness—such blessings can only be earned.”

I guess I didn’t expound on this enough. The other part of this, (that I failed to include in the org. post) is. To expect someone to forgive their abuser is putting incredible pressure on a very fragile foundation. Without repentance from the abuser, the victim will struggle and ultimately fail if he or she seeks to find in themselves forgiveness for their abuser.

BUT!!! With professional help, self-reference, and a good support system, the victim can successfully move toward healing. As healing and understanding come to the victim, ultimately forgiveness to some degree will follow. But again I say, expecting the victim to forgive the abuser, under the stipulation that forgiveness is required for healing, will create the illusion of an uncrossable chasm.

To truly heal your soul, mind and spirit. Forgiveness in necessary. But it should come without pressure, (Not to be expected) as their healing progresses.

I believe God requires forgiveness. But I also believe that God is a loving and understanding Father. Far more understanding of us than we are of ourselves. And I believe if we seek His help, counsel and direction. The Holy Spirit will (when the time is right) begin to direct us to forgiveness of our abusers. But again I say, expecting the victim to forgive the abuser, under the stipulation that forgiveness is required for healing, will create the illusion of an uncrossable chasm.

Also I have been questioned about what self-reference is: Self-Reference is basically talking to yourself, encouraging yourself, Only you know all the details about what happened, feelings you are experiencing and your own way of dealing with things. So to reason and manage thoughts and feelings for yourself is very important. Professional help can offer tools to help you self-reference. But ultimately  you are the only one who can do the work necessary to promote healing.