depression

Why You Need To Make This Small Investment In Your Life

I’ve been through some of the worse a child can endure; torture, sexual abuse, child labor and more. Cult life was excruciating, daunting and extremely emotionally isolated.

My healing journal has been difficult as well. Being diagnosed with mental impairments thrust me into shame and despair for a long time.

So, how did I get through? Fifteen years of hard work and a big mirror reflecting back at me.

This brought me to a place of wanting to share my journey with others. One of the excruciating parts of talking to survivors, is how many are alone, can’t afford therapy and are just struggling to be heard.

So, I started a channel where I can listen and share. Through videos and posts, you, the subscriber, can come to understand more about mental health struggles. I am currently doing a video series on Dissociative Identity Disorder.

I am in love with this channel. Subscribers are private unless you choose to comment or openly participate. I can garauntee a constant stream of information and so, so much more.

Click to join:  My Private Channel

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Five Tips For Surviving Holiday Gatherings

Let’s face it, for many people the holiday season is a reminder of past and current emotional and/or physical abuse, missing family members, the gathering together of dysfunctional family, even abusers, alcohol consumption and more.

So, how does one get through a day which may possibly have to be spent surrounded by dysfunctional behaviors?

1. Remember that other people’s behaviors are not yours. If it becomes projected toward you, you get to get up and walk away. You get to gather your brood and keys, respectfully say your goodbyes and simply leave. On this day, and every day, you have the right to self preserve and exit from toxic environments. If you feel you may end up in an abusive encounter, arrange a way to be able to leave as soon as you can.

2. We live in an age of pressure. We worry over judgment and backlash. Not attending a family function can create an arena of hurt. We don’t want the family to be upset at us. We don’t want to have to rehash grudges still being held against us. We don’t want to experience any new wounds. Remember that your peace of mind belongs to you. If you feel it is safer for you not to attend, then you don’t have to. If you do decide to attend gatherings though, for yourself, focus on any moments of positive laughter and conversation.  Focus on the familial connections which feel positive for you.

3. If you encounter triggers such as passive aggressive comments made toward you, skewed stories told that are meant to make you feel bad or humiliated or other audio invasions such as high noise levels, remember to use some grounding tools. Have headphones with you to temporarily block out the noise and negative conversation. Not only does it silently make the statement that you are unwilling to participate in toxicity, it also allows you a temporary mental escape as you listen to soothing music on your phone. If you feel yourself dissociating, silently name five red, green, white or black items in the room. Grab some ice water. Run your hand over the couch material or a solid object beside you, focusing in on its texture in your mind to bring you present into the room . If there are children around ask one of them if they want to play catch. Toss a stuffie or ball or any small item back and forth with them. These tools can all help to bring you back into the present.

4. Stay sober. Try not to drink in an attempt to relax. Keep your mind aware and focused. Concentrate on breathing. Visualize a protective barrier between you and those who you are not comfortable being around.

5. Set a time limit on your visit, and have an exit strategy. If three hours is all you feel you can handle, then try and time your visit so that the family meal is starting and wrapping up within your time frame. Be okay with taking a “to go” plate to enjoy later when you are back in your own safe space.

In essence, please remember to not be guilted into placing yourself in anxious or stressful familial situations. Even if your family doesn’t understand you, or doesn’t try to, know that you have the right to reserve your own comfort zone.

Remember to stay in the present.

Remember that if you feel triggered you have the right to ground or leave.

Remember that many people are not mindful of others’ needs, so prepare a self care list that you can glance at if you feel your mind can’t focus on its own. Looking at a list of ways to ground yourself can, in itself, also bring you into the present.

To my fellow abuse survivors who struggle through the holidays, I am with you in my heart. Here’s to the passing of another year and the start of a new one.

Vennie Kocsis is a child abuse survivor and the author of “Cult Child“. She is an outspoken advocate for trauma survivors.

What Is Holding Space? 

Crisis. It happens all around us every day in some form, from the child who cries a lot, to the friend who is dying of a terminal illness, to war and news and everywhere we turn we’re surrounded with crisis and news of crisis. We are often left feeling helpless, because as humans, our heart says “We have to fix this.”

I regularly practice caution in this arena. As a natural Empath, I can easily bring to my bosom, every pain in this heaving planet, leaving me somewhere lost in a great pond of sadness.

Once, when I was going through a deep struggle, a friend said, “I’m holding space for you.”

It is quite one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.

So what does it mean to hold space for someone in your life? What does it feel like when you know someone is holding space for you?

When we see others struggling and hurting we want to fix it. We want to help them feel happy. We want to make it better because we love them. This is how beautiful we are underneath our masks which often give off the tone of apathy, a cover for the shame we feel that we cannot fix it.

The first rule of holding space is to NOT do it of you aren’t dedicated. The last thing anyone in crisis needs is am empty promise.

Here are some examples of how to hold space for someone.

1. Answer their calls and texts. Do so willingly and with love. Respond with “I’m so sorry. What can I do to help?” Let them know you are listening. Open the door for them to share with you.

2. Check in on them. Don’t wait for them to reach out. When we are struggling, many of us isolate and cannot find the strength to reach out. So check on us. Let us know when you think of us. You may be the very light we need in that moment.

3. Sometimes we just want an ear. So cease attempting to fix it all. You may say, “Hey, if you need support coming up with solutions, I’ll gladly brainstorm with you otherwise, I’m here holding space for you.”. It’s often best to just hold the space in support, because that one simple act creates these feelings in times of crisis.

We feel Safe
We don’t feel so alone
We become Hopeful
We are Thankful
We feel Supported
We become Motivated

Holding space for our loved ones means sacrifice. I believe that we have to be clear on knowing our own self-love boundaries so that we, as the person holding space, are not depleting our own strength. Holding space requires balance.

Most of all, holding space requires empathy, an ability to step outside of our own self and find the joy in being there for someone else.

Hold space, my friends. It is a beautiful gift to give.

Faceless

I am a faceless wanderer passing by unknown. There are dimensions and planets inside of me that have yet to be born. I’m a color wheel glanced at from distances. There is energy in my existence that is a sinkhole of depression, apathy and ego bending.

I want out of this body and out of this place. I want to run away. I am stuck in thick mud. The spears would fly if I suddenly said farewell, goodbye; to, for once, live my own life. No desire to be caretaker, mother or wife.

I am dried out; wrung like a sponge; assessing escape routes; how to get out without the spears bleeding my skin from the inside until all that remains is a shell.

Hands held out for help, expected, enabled, the support table cracking at the legs, and in their hast to take, there will be silence when the legs finally break. Shattered wood goes back to earth quickly. It becomes dust and ash, disappearing until one day they will sit around musing, “She used to be the tallest tree.”

And my remnants will be what is burned in the fire pit. My mistakes will be their memories. My heart break will be the ghosts, an aching they will never know. So much whining about the trials of their life. You give me your childhood, and I’ll give mine. We’ll take measure of who really survived.

Years I spent, digging and clawing out words, hoping, just hoping to be heard. Even in that, there is no reprieve. Only the stark reality that is me; the knowing I must be alone in order to survive. I cannot be the foundation for anyone else’s life.

So I plan. I scheme. I prepare. To find a cave to call my own; a tender slice of home where there is no noise, the walls are mindful, the silence respects me, and I cease being a projection screen for the multitude of trivial screams.

Do Trauma Survivors Really Hold Onto the Past?

It is said that we trauma survivors most often hold onto the past, ruminating over it in our minds and manifesting it in our behaviors and dysfunctions.

Our past is a map of who we are. It is our personal history book. For many of us it is a manifesto of survival and the treacherous terrain we have travelled over.

But I say this…

I do not believe we hold onto the past. If we could wave illuminated wands or erase our minds back into a clear palette of beautiful memories and loving childhoods, we would maybe then, believe in miracles. I would most likely take that option without question.

No, dears, we trauma survivors do not hold on. Instead, the past holds onto us, and we spend a lifetime prying it’s fingers from our skin, rebuking its haunting voice in our heads and clambering over the piles of images and dreams it randomly throws into our path.

Reversing language, instead of asking trauma survivors, “What part of your past are you holding onto?”, which implies that the survivor is almost enjoying the trauma of their past, a better question would be, “What part of your past is holding on to you?”

There is too much victim blaming language being thrown at trauma survivors. So, I ask myself, what part of my past holds onto me the strongest?

I’d have to say the sexual abuse and the mental fear fragmentation. It makes my stomach revolt when I’m around certain types of men. I cannot stand to look at them or even have them touch me or act intimately towards me. My mouth will water with the urge to vomit.

I am hyper vigilant in all aspects of my life, no different than a military trained soldier or police officer. I am hyper aware of possible dangers around me at all times, hence the urge to stay at my home where it does feel safest.

I speak to my past often. I tell it, “Don’t hold me so tight. You are squeezing my breath.” And it complies, easing just enough for me to move. Our pasts don’t want to release us. The automated aftermath of trauma has been extensively trained by our abusers to keep its spindly fingers gripped into us like puppets.

And we spend time cutting the strings as the spiders continue to weave. We race against time to stay ahead of them; to clear the webs. Sometimes we get tired. It takes work to stay ahead of a spider. They are dutiful and focused. So we must do the same.

“We do not hold onto our past. Our past holds onto us.” Vennie Kocsis

Child Abusers Rarely Take Ownership of Their Crimes

If my mother were alive, and you were to ask her if she allowed her children to be abused or if she abused her children, her answer would most likely be (with Bible in hand), “Absolutely NOT!”

She would then most likely go on to tell you what difficult children my siblings and I were to raise, along with a myriad of other excuses to support the gross denial covering the guilt she couldn’t face.   This is what abusers do; blame the child, and all too often, naive adults actually believe it.

A couple of years ago, a friend who grew up in the same cult as me had a conversation with a woman who knew me when I was a child. My friend asked the woman about my time as a child at the second compound I was taken to in Alaska, and the woman said this:

Well, she was quite a boisterous child and was always in trouble a lot.”

She victim blamed a child who she witnessed be abused and yet still, thirty plus years later, the denial runs as deep as the ocean. What should we have expected? That our abusers would admit to their crimes? What a ridiculous notion. Child abusers rarely admit to their crimes unless they’re caught. Given the chance, they will quickly blame the child.  Witnessing child abuse and doing nothing is just as criminal as participating.

Victim blame a child abuse survivor, and that’s where my patience, kindness and association ends.

I do not ever condone a child abuse survivor having to defend themselves against the abuse they suffered. My fellow child abuse survivors, we’re not mentally ill. Our abusers are. Those who would attack your abuse are in serious need of psychological help themselves.

They lack empathy and understanding. Attacking someone’s child abuse is an extremely apathetic action. I feel we must use our voices to stand against those who would deny the atrocities that we endured as children and that children still endure. We have to stand our ground and not allow children to ever be blamed for the neglect and/or abuse they endure.

Tonight I sit in contemplation, knowing where my passions are, and what makes me feel in a space of forward movement.   I am aware of where I put my time and my energy, for my goal is to always be focused on believing and supporting child abuse survivors.

The Interview Is Here: I Talk “Sam Fife’s Move of God” Cult on Ridder Radio

Click the player below to listen to the two hour interview as I talk with Janaki of The (Not So) Sacred Radio Show about my childhood growing on in a bible based cult.