I’m so excited to be announcing my above published article on racism in psychologytoday.com. In less than 30 hours since it was published, it has already been viewed 3,217 times! This article is, like my others, is based upon an aspect of trauma that is widespread in our society. While racism may not have the reputation of a traumatic event, that is not true. Please read my article to understand why it is.

Here is the link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/facing-trauma-together/202011/racism-goes-way-beyond-white-supremacy.

Thank you and please share if you found it meaningful!

As a mother, I’m appalled when I realize what I had done to my daughter, even unknowingly. To this day, she still recalls having to keep quiet and tiptoe around me when she was just four years old because I would flip from numbness to rage in a split second. 

Most of the day, however, I would sleep. I’d have migraines for weeks at a time, leaving me ensconced in my room because any light or noise only made the headache worse. This depression lasted for several years.

When I think of what I put my daughter through, I feel shame. This compounds the original shame I felt as a result of the abuse I received as a child.

Trauma, if unhealed, gets inadvertently passed down to the next generation. Children receive the indirect impact of our trauma and, in their own way, are recipients of “secondary trauma.” It impacts their being as well as their lives because they must learn defensive survival skills in order to live with their parents. Sadly, these skills become crippling defense mechanisms that they carry throughout life, often never knowing that they have. 

Let me be clear then that this is not what survivors do on purpose. They may not even know they do it. 

In my work as a healer and psychotherapist, I didn’t even realize how my trauma affected my children for a long time, even as I was undergoing my own healing. In fact, the field of psychology hadn’t yet discovered the severe effects of trauma — even on those directly traumatized.

To give you some of my background, I am a survivor of child physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. I also was a recipient of frequent and overt racial abuse growing up, some of which included physical and emotional components. Each of these forms of abuse are traumatic in and of itself; however, these together can absolutely debilitate a person. 

Of course, this was my life. I knew no other and, in the early ’50s, going for counseling was unheard of — unless one had severe mental illness. So, my traumatic experiences made me into a person that was seen as being overly sensitive and reactive. 

Later, I learned to “suck it up,” as though it were my fault that all these things happened to me. What I didn’t realize is that the trauma would have long-term impact not only on me, but on my children as well.  

When a survivor has not gone through the healing process, or even started it, they repeat behavior patterns that they originally used in order to survive. These can include addictions of all kinds, depression, or hyperactivity, to name a few. They can also become abusive themselves and/or develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Children of these parents live with the aftermath of their parents’ trauma their whole lives. And, just like trauma was normal to the survivor, these aftereffects feel normal to the children. They don’t realize that they also need healing. 

One of the ways that it gets passed down is when a child of a survivor reaches the same age as the parent was when they experienced the original trauma, the parent can unconsciously begin to mimic behavior that occurred during that trauma. And, if it is a child of the same sex as the parent, this becomes an even stronger trigger, sometimes to the point where it’s hard to differentiate between the parent and the child. 

Mind you again, this is all done outside of the survivor’s awareness. Sadly, the effects on the children are the same. For example, when my daughter was between the ages of 3 and 4, she was the same age that I was when my family and I escaped from Communism to the United States. That was when not only when the sexual and physical abuse began for me, but it was also when I was faced with racism and having to learn to live in a totally different culture. 

Needless to say, when she was that age, I was especially vulnerable to triggers from the past. I went into severe depression and didn’t realize what was happening: I was unconsciously recalling my original trauma. My daughter’s age triggered my own suppressed memories. 

I would have angry outbursts and direct them at her. She, in turn, learned to be compliant on the outside, listening to my tirades without outward emotion, stuffing her hurt and anger deep inside. She became a “people pleaser” like me, not even believing that she could actually ask for and receive something for herself. To this day, she still finds it difficult to say “no.” She’s learned to do it, yet feels guilty. 

I’ve also worked with many clients who have passed the effects of their traumas onto their children. I particularly remember one couple who were both alcoholics. When they came to me, they had stopped drinking due to the support of Alcoholics Anonymous, but hadn’t dealt with any of the issues that led them to alcoholism in the first place. They also couldn’t understand why their children were fast becoming alcoholics, especially after living in a dysfunctional family system where alcohol controlled everyone. 

The reason is that the parents became “dry drunks” but did not go further to seek professional help to deal with their own trauma. In fact, they did not understand that their children’s behavior was a family problem, not just the children’s. 

The point of this post is to alert survivors and their families to how damaging unhealed trauma is. It is not enough to simply “get on with your life,” because that life catches up with you in ways that you don’t expect. And, I know parents want the best for their children and would not want to pass on the effects of their trauma onto them. 

So, I urge you to heal, no matter how painful facing your trauma may be. It will not only help you, but also the ones you love the most. Here are some suggestions towards healing: 

  1. Seek professional help — preferably someone who is trained in this field. I find that referrals from people I trust makes me feel safer in going. No matter what the school of counseling/healing that person is trained in, it’s more important that you feel comfortable with him/her. If you feel uncomfortable, you have permission to leave and find another. You do not need to undergo this a second time alone.
  2. Find others who have been through similar trauma. You will come to understand that you are not alone, that others know exactly what you’re going through. Do not isolate yourself again.
  3. Once you have a better understanding of what you’re dealing with, explain it to your family and friends. Some of my clients have brought their families in with them to the sessions so that a third party can be more objective and help everyone through this time. 

I hope my story helps you start to understand the lifelong pain and heartbreak that gets passed down to those we love through trauma. And, especially in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, a trauma of global proportions, we need to be aware of the lasting, intergenerational suffering that unresolved trauma produces.

There is a free 5-day virtual retreat entitled, “Breaking the Silence: Healing Childhood Sexual Trauma”. I will be speaking about and demonstrating a qigong exercise and it’s impact on alleviating post-traumatic stress disorder (ptsd) for survivors. I hope you will join me with over 60 other experts on this topic, from understanding what happens on a physical, emotional and spiritual level during trauma, what causes (ptsd), the impact of this abuse on survivors, and what it takes to heal.

Please register here: http://breakingsilencesummit.com/?ap_id=gayook

There is also a fb community you can join to discuss this topic, get answers to what’s been bothering you, and have a support group as you are going thru your healing journey:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/bridgetohealing/members/

My presentation will be on the 5th day. Hope to see you all there!

 

 

 

The below article gives an accurate account of the emotional toll cancer takes on a patient, and even survivors who are in remission. As a cancer patient, I have and continue to go through all the emotions listed here. And, the emotional roller coaster doesn’t stop even when I was in remission for a year and half. I’m posting this article so that cancer patients/survivors can know that they are not alone and they ARE NOT going crazy (unless you have already been dx with a mental illess). I’m also posting this article so that loved ones and caregivers have a better understanding of what we go through:

Dealing with the Emotional Effects of Cancer

I am glad that the above is being finally contested. However, with the way “news” is reported when referred to women, can anyone really be surprised that this has been happening? When the CEO sets a tone of abuse of power towards a specific group of people, then the entire environment follows suit.

Absolutely heinous behavior! I, for one, am glad to see this type of behavior finally being held accountable!

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/7/24/1551611/-25-Fox-News-Employees-Come-Forward-Forced-Dates-Demands-for-Oral-Sex?detail=email&link_id=2&can_id=fb255b324e72bb84182da64a55ea0938&source=email-donald-trump-said-he-would-close-the-internet&email_referrer=donald-trump-said-he-would-close-the-internet&email_subject=donald-trump-said-he-would-close-the-internet

I’m glad to see so many women finally speaking up and providing a role model for other women to fight for justice. However, make no mistake, it is an uphill battle. And, I have heard from past clients that fighting justice can feel like being abused all over again. In this land of supposed equality and justice, I do find that our criminal justice system doesn’t prove to be too just, and that the victim, unfortunately, still gets blamed!

Sexual harassment does not adequately describe the pain, the fear, the shame and the anger that survivors go through after this kind of abuse. Read the rest of this entry »

The law to seek justice for survivors of sexual abuse still makes it very difficult to report. Below is a petition to support a bill before the House to alleviate some of the obstacles survivors face.  As a former psychotherapist, and a survivor myself, I’ve counseled others who have reported their abuse. On one hand, taking the step to report is the beginning of healing from a violation so vile that impacts the mind, body and soul. On the other hand, when obstacles block the support that a survivor desperately needs to go through this process, my clients have told me that “I feel like I am being raped all over again”!

Please read the below bill and add your name to this petition to support it:

Gayook, add your name: Tell the Senate Judiciary Committee to take immediate action to pass the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act.

Last week Senate Democrats introduced a bill that could be a game changer for sexual assault survivors across the country. The federal Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act would provide more rights to survivors of rape and sexual assault, particularly as they seek justice through the criminal justice system.

Among the rights secured in this bill are no-cost forensic medical exams (or rape kits), preservation of evidence for the full statute of limitations, clear information about the results of the exam, and written notice prior to destroying rape kits.

A version of the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act was introduced in the U. S. House of Representatives last spring. After the bill was referred to a House committee for consideration, nothing happened until Senator Jeanne Shaheen reintroduced it in the Senate last week. This legislation is too important to languish in committee again.

Add your name: Demand the Senate Judiciary Committee take immediate action to pass the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act.

The bill was written by Amanda Nguyen, a 24-year-old rape survivor who was frustrated by the obstacles and hurdles she’s faced in the two years since her attack. Despite a 15-year statute of limitations in her state, she is forced to track down her rape kit, which moves from facility to facility, and file an extension every 6 months so the evidence is not destroyed.

Nguyen says, “The system essentially makes me live my life by date of rape.”

Currently, survivors’ rights and guarantees vary widely from state to state. This legislation seeks to create standard procedures for survivors seeking justice through the legal system. The bill applies specifically to federal cases, but if enacted, is poised to become a model states can draw from in establishing standards of justice, as well as care and treatment, for survivors of sexual assault.

Stand with sexual assault survivors. Add your name to the petition now.

Keep fighting,
Irna Landrum, Daily Kos

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Matthew Fox’s above memoir entails his journey from boyhood to priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church, to his expulsion from the Church, and to his
second ordination with the Episcopal Church.  And, that’s as far as I’ve read. Read the rest of this entry »

If you read the last blog, you know I hadn’t as yet spoken to Jenn. She finally did call tonight and we spoke for about 10 minutes – the longest talk since she’s been in Shanghai.

She said the presentation went very well and, as many of the speakers before her covered some of the same background information she was going to speak about, she decided to make hers more personal, from the heart. She spoke more about her grandfather’s story – I guess that’s what her friend said about it being bittersweet. And, of all things, the power point froze in the middle of the session, so while they were trying to get it to work again, she entertained the audience by tap dancing. Of course, the place cracked up. I guess she hasn’t lost her “ham” persona when she’s on stage. In fact, one person told her that the tap dancing was the best part. She responded with, “Next time, I’ll be sure to dance more”!

Many people came up to speak to her afterwards, telling her that they were crying during her speech, and some actually started tearing while telling her this. Some told her that hers was the best presentation. I knew that while the information on that era is important, I always find that it’s the personal stories that move the audience.

Again, my heart swells with love and pride for her hard work and also for her touching tribute to her grandfather’s memory.

I haven’t had too much contact with my daughter, Jennifer, who has been at the Art Deco World Congress this past week. With my poor cell phone connection in the house and the different time zones, it’s been challenging to have a heart-to-heart.

When I asked her how her presentation went, the only cryptic answer was, “It went well”. Fortunately, one of her friends from the LA Art Deco Society emailed his husband and said that she “knocked the presentation out of the park”. He went on to say that the story was bittersweet, that he ended up with a tear in his eyes, that I would be very proud of her, and that many people were impressed. Wow!

And, to top it off, she was one of the few presenters mentioned in the ShanghaiDaily.com – http://www.shanghaidaily.com/feature/art-and-culture/Art-Deco-buffs-go-ritzy-retro/shdaily.shtml.

Go, Jenn!

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