Scars and Tiaras

Reclaiming Your Beautiful Self After a Painful Past

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Scars and Tiaras is a writing, photography, and social project by Angela Giles Klocke about reclaiming your beautiful self after a painful past of abuse and/or violence. It is meant to inspire, lift up, and hopefully move people into action toward lifting up others. {Formerly The Tiara Project} Read More!

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How to lean into the pain caused by your abusive past

Lean Into the Pain by Scars and Tiaras

Night after night, I was waking up in pain. My feet kept cramping up. I’d grab whichever foot was hurting and hold it, trying to knead out the pain, but ultimately I had to wait it out, refocus my mind not to feel it, and then try to fall back to sleep. No amount of babying the pain took it away until it was ready.

I shared this with my daughter when I found myself in the grip of another cramp in the middle of the day.

“It just keeps happening,” I said, pulling my foot in and bending it to try to loosen pain’s grip.

“Push against it,” she said.

I shook my head. “No, that hurts more!”

“You have to push against it. It hurts more at first, but then the pain goes away.”

A dancer in color guard, she was accustomed to foot cramps and had learned the best and quickest way to end the pain was to push into it, not try to avoid it or wait it out in hopes of it going away.

I pushed my foot, straightening it even though everything in my head said to just keep holding it. Within seconds, my foot relaxed and the pain was gone.

“Whoa,” I said. “That is the complete opposite of what I’d have ever tried to do.”

The message was not lost on me. Over the last several years, after over a decade of trying to baby and avoid my own pain from the past, I finally leaned directly into it, feeling it, tasting it, hating it but also facing it and learning to accept it.

As it turns out, it’s much easier to deal with it all than to keep stuffing it down, pretending it doesn’t matter. Because stuffing your feelings down will only work for so long. Eventually, an explosion will happen.

How to Lean Into the Pain

  • Seek out a good counselor with experience in your type of recovery, i.e. domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault
  • Turn to a trusted friend or loved one who can handle all the nitty-gritty details of your story, especially if that person has related experience
  • Join a support group — believe it or not, groups help remind you that you are not alone, and other members can help you process that which you may not have been able to express before
  • Call in to a support hotline
  • Journal it out — it doesn’t need to be pretty
  • Write your memoirs — and it can be for your eyes only. Writing helps you make connections to feelings and actions that you may have never noticed before
  • Read other books/memoirs about abuse — these can help you see how you’re not alone and give you permission to feel what you feel
  • Dance or exercise your way through — sometimes just getting physical as you process can ease the heaviness and help release your feelings
  • Accept that your pain — no matter the level — is valid and belongs to you
  • When something painful comes up, don’t stuff it back down. Instead, allow yourself to think on it for a bit. You don’t have to have a meal of it, but perhaps just a few bites to get you started

Maybe your pain leads you to self sabotage or a lack of confidence in yourself in the area of your career. If that’s the case you can lean into your pain by seeking out a coach or mentor to work with. With my coach, I work on all my self-doubt and old ways of thinking (lies that I am stupid, worthless, and will never amount to anything, lies of desperation and fear). After counseling and finding healing in some big areas, I still battle issues with confidence, and my coach walks that road with me.

Understand, an easy list doesn’t mean the task at hand is easy. It’s not. It’s uncomfortable, and at first, it hurts even more than avoiding it. But then it gets easier. The greatest pain begins to fade, and soon your heart can start the process of mending from all the broken pieces.

You are not alone.

#WhyIStayed = Money

Despite many opinions on the matter, money really is a pretty big issue when it comes to why victims stay in domestic violence situations.

Video is approximately 5 minutes.

When your finances are controlled by someone else, when they take all your money or won’t let you make money, that is another form of abuse and control.

“So, the woman often has no money, poor credit, and a limited understanding of her financial situation. Even if she is desperate to leave an abusive partner and has the courage to move to a local domestic violence shelter, she has no money for transportation, food or clothing.”
-Money, a powerful weapon in domestic violence By Thomas J. Wilson

So, what do you think?

The journey continues…

Onward. Sometimes a goal isn’t met, but ultimately, it was never about how far I could go. It’s always been about the journey. And so, it continues. See the video for more information and thoughts. Video is 5 minutes.

1,000 Miles: Conversation > Walking Miles

It was all worked out. The miles would work if I pushed myself ever-so-many per day. I would still make it. This would still be a win!

And then one of those names walked through my door late at night in need of refuge. Suddenly the need changed. Suddenly the goal changed.

As we sat in conversation the next day, and as I realized it would be a long one, I caught myself aware of the time ticking away. My to-do list for the day included 10 miles and working on my book proposal. I had a goal, and life swooped in and refocused my heart, reminding me that walking for victims and writing for victims is pointless when a victim is sitting right here in front of me, in need, in pain.

Later, I did walk some, but it wasn’t 10 miles. And I knew as I walked that this journey had taken me right to the heart of the issue, right to becoming a place of safety and love. It was never about how far I could walk each day but rather how open my heart could be, and how much I could open the eyes and hearts of others.

Despite my bravado less than 2 weeks ago that I WOULD make it to 1,000 miles by the end of the year, this past week has reminded me of what’s most important. I could brush aside someone in need to get my miles done, to stay on track, or I could have conversation and listen and be that person I ask each of you to be to others.

I chose to let the miles go. I chose to sit for hours and dig away at my own wounds in the very worst week* that I could be faced with someone else’s pain, and I chose to love instead of walk.

One day, I will reach 1,000 miles. But it won’t be by December 31, 2014. It will be as it is, as it so happens. In the meantime, I can still do hard things, because when you open yourself to walk alongside someone else who is in the middle of pain, that’s exactly it. But it’s also the most beautiful thing, the greatest walk you can ever make.

*My life began again 17 years ago this week.

MYTH #3: Child abuse doesn’t happen in “good” families.
Fact: Child abuse doesn’t only happen in poor families or bad neighborhoods. It crosses all racial, economic, and cultural lines. Sometimes, families who seem to have it all from the outside are hiding a different story behind closed doors.
Read more:

1,000 Miles: “What if you don’t make it?”

1,000 Miles for Abuse AwarenessTo the untrained eye, I appear to be obsessed with walking. Neighbors notice me take off several times each day now, versus the previous once, maybe twice a day. It’s December 3 and I still have over 200 miles to go before the year ends. Some have suggested that I should give myself a break, and I’ve entertained that idea. So what if I don’t make it to 1,000 after all. So what if the goal isn’t met. The journey has been what’s really important.

That’s true. So very true.

But it’s not enough. Almost doesn’t cut it here, not this time. I can accept and move on from many things without reaching my original goal. “Close enough” often satisfies me. But not this time.

This means something to me. Something huge. I knew it would be hard. I knew I was biting off a tad more than I could chew. I knew life is busy and some days I would feel too horrible to even say the word “walk.” And yet, I pushed on. I knew I fell behind months ago. And yet, I pushed on. I know as I stare down just 29 walking days left that I COULD fail. And yet, I push on.

If I don’t make it, the world will not end.

If I don’t make it, I’ll get over the disappointment.

If I don’t make it, I’ll keep going.

But the question really isn’t, “What if you don’t make it?”

The question is: “What if you DO?”

That’s what drives me. The very idea that each mile means something, and reaching 1,000 in the year I set to do so opens the door to more conversation.

“You walked 1,000 miles in one year? Why?”

Yes, let’s talk about that!

Recently, someone reached out to me to give me an update. I walked for her daughter in the summer, and she wanted me to know how much better things were. My heart swelled with this news, not because I think my walking changed her life but rather because this girl’s mother wasn’t alone. She and I made a connection, even if ever so briefly, while she is on a journey. For just a little bit of time, I was walking with her, not just for her daughter. That means everything to me. Everything.

I will reach 1,000 by the end of the year. It seems impossible and crazy. But I kind of thrive on impossible and crazy ideas. And surviving and healing from a painful, abusive present or past can seem impossible, but I know that too can happen. So, onward.

We can do hard things!