I used to have a recurring nightmare. In the nightmare, I was trapped in a concrete maze on top of a building. I ran frantically through the maze, gasping for breath, looking for a way out. Every time I thought I was almost out of the maze, I turned a corner, only to run into a man much larger than me, dressed in black and wearing a white mask. I never knew who he was. This nightmare was related to me being sexually abused before I was three years old. I was not aware of this fact until I was much older. I had this nightmare almost every night for years, from two years old until about the age of 27. For you to understand why I tell you about the nightmare, I need to tell you my story.
Here goes, here’s my story. I think the best way to share my story with you is to tell it chronologically. When I was 19 years old, I was in college and in a lot of pain. I couldn’t sit still in my classes, I couldn’t walk straight, and I didn’t sleep well. The constant pain was ruthless. I silently convinced myself that I must have some kind of terminal illness. I felt like I was dying. Finally, I went to see a chiropractor, who used kinesiology and gentle adjusting. He took x-rays and told me that I had the back of a 50 year old woman. I replied with conviction, “Try 100 years old!” He went on to tell me that if I were to have children, I would have to have C-sections, because my hips and pelvic area were so twisted. Now I knew how messed up I was. Lucky me, I thought to myself. After a lot of work between 19 and 21, and a regular routine of therapy, the doc did help me and I finally started to feel better. When I was 21, I moved to Arizona, seeking a chiropractor who used kinesiology, and I found someone who used a technique called B.E.S.T. (Bio Energetic Synchronization Technique). Using the B.E.S.T. technique, I felt better and better. Now, at 21, I began working out five or six days a week, something that I was not able to do when I was 19.
I fell in love, got married, and at 24, I became pregnant with my first child, and gave birth to Samantha at 25, without a C-section. Two years later, I became sick with chronic sinus problems, which often turned into infections. I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired and revisited my B.E.S.T. doctor, whom I saw whenever I felt the need.
On this particular sunny Arizona day, I felt as if I had surrendered. I entered the doctor’s office waving my imaginary white flag. I was ready to be well once and for all. The doc spoke two frightening words and a time frame. I was blown away! I had never shared my trauma with him. The words were sexual abuse. The time frame was my childhood between the ages of one and five. “Holy moley, Batman!” How did he do that? I was sexually abused just two months shy of my third birthday by a 16 year old neighbor. I now understood why the man in my nightmare was dressed in dark clothes and was so much taller than me. The teenager who abused me was much darker in skin color than me. I was just a skinny little girl, with short blonde hair, wearing my yellow dress, not even three. I was oblivious to any kind of danger, because I was playing three houses down (as I often did) with my friends in the front yard. The predator chose a concrete hall way entrance to his basement to abuse me. I was so small, so helpless. The concrete walls towered over me, without possibility of escape—just like the concrete maze! The back of the house was shaded by a large tree. On that late April afternoon, the sun was in front of the house. The basement hall way was dark, damp and musty. The maze in my nightmare finally made sense.
The effects of the abuse were to surface again, however, in a very unsettling manner. I have always loved and enjoyed watching my daughter. At the time she was two years old, however, watching her, so close to the age I was when I was abused, caused my body to remember and reconnect with my own experience at her age. I understood all my pain, which started at such a young age. Finally! Wow! What a concept. My daughter was two and the memories of the abuse I experienced were showing up in my body as illness. A quick look back at my childhood shed a little light on my physical state. I remember always being uncomfortable! Starting at about the age of 10, I used to walk my friends off the sidewalk. I simply couldn’t walk straight. Now, at 27, I found myself working together with the doc on that miraculous day, in his modestly decorated office. When the abuse came up, I was moved to a private room. The smell of vinyl and fresh paper as it crinkled under my face filled my senses. We cleared out the emotional interference. One interesting note about my recurring sinus infections and recurring dreams: Before the year my daughter was two, I had never had a sinus infection. During the year my daughter was two, I had one sinus infection after another. Since that day 23 years ago, after clearing the emotional interference with the doc, I have never had another sinus infection. Another amazing thing: Since that day, my recurring nightmare has never occurred again. What a relief! My life has never been the same, and we are talking in a good way!
Following the emotional and physical healing, I moved forward very quickly into the middle of the maze, well on my way to love. Let’s fast forward a bit, so I can share my life with you as I live it today. I am now 49. I feel better than I did at 19. I have four children. Contrary to the original prognosis instructing me to have C-sections, I was able to bring three of my children into this world with natural childbirth. (I opted for a C-section with one of my children because the baby’s breech position posed a serious risk.) I work out six days a week. I now hold a master’s degree (by the age of 28, I was able to sit still and return to college). When I walk down the street with my friends, I actually walk in the direction I intend, and no one ends up off the sidewalk.
It is so good to be in charge of my life. Sometimes life can be a little scary because I don’t always like what I create, but being in charge is so empowering! I have the power to recreate. I am in the driver’s seat, I am empowered and life is great!
So, how do you go from such a horrific state of fear and move to a place of love?
First off, recognize the truth, which is, you are perfect, beautiful, powerful, valued, unconditionally loved, deserving and worthy of having a wonderfully fantastic life !! Next, SLOW DOWN !! We move too fast more often than not and we are justified but we’re driving ourselves right in the direction of fear. I know it’s hard to slow down with all we have on our plates these days. I am the mother of four, an author and motivational speaker. There are always things that NEED to be done. Life is really about the journey and not the destination. We know this but more often than not we don’t live this truth. I choose to enjoy the journey.
So, how do you slow down? Start by living a conscious life. “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious behavior.” Wrote Henry David Thoreau. As you go through your day, pay attention, be awake and aware starting with what you are eating. Diets don’t work but living a conscious life does. Pay attention to what you drink. Make water your #1 choice of beverage. Pay attention to how you move or exercise. Move your body every day. Pay attention to how you sleep or rest. Go to bed when you’re tired. Take a nap if you need it. Get some sunshine every day. If you can’t get out in the sun then use a sunlamp or supplement with vitamin D. Pay attention to whether or not you are breathing. Yep, this is something we often forget to do, instead we hold our breath without realizing it – and then we wonder why we have a headache.
The number one thing to pay attention to is what you are feeling. If you aren’t feeling good then you need to go back and think about what you’ve been thinking and change those thoughts. Gandhi said, “A man is but the product of his thoughts, what he thinks, He Becomes.” There are many ways to quickly shift your thoughts from low vibrating thoughts to higher vibrating thoughts. I will give one example here that works no matter how busy you are. Find an anchoring thought. An anchoring thought is a thought that always makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over. You could think about a pet, a place you have visited and loved, the birth of your child. Just pick a thought and use it whenever you feel yourself spiraling down and away from Love. Your anchoring thought should bring up a purely joyful feeling when you think about it. This anchoring thought then can be used as a quick tool to redirect you towards love, especially when you’re in a tight spot. Let’s use work as an example. Lots of distractions lead you to feel negative emotions. Focus on your anchoring thought—even if only for a moment. You will return to a better feeling place. The anchoring thought results in a powerful positive response turning you in the right direction in an instant. An anchoring thought is like carrying a magic bullet with you all of the time, wherever you are. Similar to carrying a gratitude stone or coin in your pocket, the anchoring thought just needs to be pulled out to remind you of all for which you are grateful.
When you realize your thoughts have been hanging around closer to fear, another thing you can do is to focus on all that you are in appreciation of in your life. This should help you turn your thoughts around pretty quickly too. There is always something to be in appreciation of even if you think there isn’t. For example the breath you just took. “Aware and awake equals clarity/Clarity equals power/Power equals movement/ Movement equals change/ Life is movement and change.”
Stay present and focused. This means if you are exercising, focus on your exercise, if you are working, focus on your work, if you are doing the dishes, focus on doing the dishes. For example, if you are exercising, how does your body feel (?), focus on your breathing. Don’t be thinking about your bills or what to do for dinner or anything else other than your exercise.
The mirror technique is another tool to use when you have allowed yourself to spiral down in the direction of fear. This is technique you should do in privacy. If you are really feeling terrible and perhaps beating yourself down, then go in your bathroom where you have a mirror and some privacy and have your melt down while looking at yourself in the mirror. Scream and rant and rave at you all you want. Beat yourself up, or whomever/whatever it is that you feel like beating up all while looking in the mirror. I am pretty sure that after you see how ugly it looks and sounds you will want to start turning your self-talk around and head toward love. Don’t leave until you do turn the self-talk around. When your feel like you are heading in the direction of love with your thoughts then you can move on with the rest of your day. By seeing yourself and hearing yourself, you will become accountable for your self-talk and thoughts very quickly. It’s always all about you!!
Try smarter not harder. My friend Rob Williams and developer of the Psych-K technique, illustrates this point with a story describing a fly trying desperately to escape through a closed window. This fly demonstrates problem focused behavior versus solution focused behavior. The fly is trying harder instead of smarter in the most basic way. The fly spends its energy on useless attempts to fly through the window. Even though it makes no progress, the fly continues to try harder and harder. There is no hope that the fly will survive taking the route it has chosen, and the struggle is part of the problem. The end result of this continued behavior is death. The door, however, is open across the room, and with little effort, the fly could escape to the outside and be free. “Why doesn’t the fly try another approach, something dramatically different?” With the goal of escaping, why would the fly continue until it dies, doing the same thing over and over again to no avail, banging its head over and over on the unopened window? Albert Einstein defines “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Now my question to you: Do you think that you are smarter than a fly, for crying out loud?
As you look back (for just a moment) at all of your “negative” experiences, notice how far you have come, what wisdom you have gained, and be grateful and thankful. If it weren’t for some of these not so great times, you would not have the crystal clear concept of what it is you do want in your life. You can now pat yourself on the back and appreciate yourself and all that you have accomplished. Have a party just because you are wonderful you. The important thing is that you continue to realize that in many situations, you have probably had great success when you tried some- thing drastically different.
Control what you can control and let go of what you can’t control. You certainly can’t control others.
Learn how to forgive and let go. One of the most helpful things you can allow into your life is forgiveness. If you truly forgive, an interfering issue can be let go of and you can move towards love once again. With forgiveness comes freedom. You free yourself. Most of us create our own prisons, and we don’t realize we alone hold the key to our freedom. Non-forgiveness stays with all of us 24/7, just like a negative thought. You can read specific steps to forgiveness in my book on page 47.
The most important thing to do in order to move quickly from living in a space of fear to living in a space of love is to love yourself first. You are number one and if you don’t love yourself first you can’t love anyone else. “I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me, “I love you.”. There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”—Maya Angelou
“Love builds up the broken wall and straightens the crooked path.
Love keeps the stars in the firmament and imposes rhythm on the ocean tides.
Each of us is created of it and I suspect each of us was created for it.” – Maya Angelou
Enjoy your life. We are supposed to be having fun. Laugh as often as possible. If you are enjoying your life, really enjoying it, then you will be healthy and well without doing anything else. Illness and negative emotions cannot manifest in a healthy environment.
Susan D. Wedgewood-Goudy, MSW, author of The Journey From Fear To Love Is Shorter Than You Think; certified in Neuro-Physical Reprogramming, B.E.S.T.(Bio Energetic Synchronization Technique) & Psych-K.
Watch Amitha’s sexual abuse story: I Survived Sexual Abuse By My Own Father
And part 2: Wake Up: 20% of People Have Been Sexually Abused
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