Sunday Everyday

When Your Father is Not Your Father: The Shock Results of Ancestry DNA Test.

When Your Father is Not Your Father: The Shock Results of Ancestry DNA Test. Part One by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

By the start of 2019, more than 26 million consumers had added their DNA to four leading commercial ancestry and health databases, according to our estimates. If the pace continues, the gene troves could hold data on the genetic makeup of more than 100 million people within 24 months (Technology Review).

The scientific landscape that was once reserved only for lab technicians, doctors and detectives is now an open market. Any one happy to dish out about $100.00 and spit into a test tube, can take the test and have the results back in about 6 weeks. People are lining up to find out their ancestoral heritage but many are finding out a lot more than they bargained for. Myself included. Along with finding out you may have descended from vikings, you may also be finding out about infidelities, health concerns, affairs, and bumping into relatives that you never knew existed.

In March this year 2019, I had the traumatic experience of finding out at 56 years of age, that my father was not my father.

This is My Story

My father Joe was born in 1928 in the inner suburbs of Melbourne at the beginning of the great depression. Times were tough. Both his parents were caught up in the gangland wars of Squizzy Taylor and the Fitzroy Gangs. His older half brother Edward was the son of Squizzy Taylor or so the family secret goes.

The story of Mona and Peter is one for another day. It is a sad and heartbreaking tale. In 1931 after the death of his 26 year old mother, my dad was abandoned at the race track with a note pinned to him. He was 3 years old.

Interestingly he was abandoned at a race track and eventually grew up to become a jockey himself.

The note said 25.7.31 (original note see below)

I P Murray the father of Josif Peter Murray is to stay with Mr and Mrs F G Cooper as long as he is 21 years of age and none of his parents can take him away from them, he is in a good home and I could not find any better in Melb. Peter Murray. Born on the 8th.12.28

My father was raised by the Cooper family and recalls a loving and wild upbringing. Pop Cooper was a Melbourne Policeman. who was on the take from the gangs and involved in all sorts of goings on in the 1920’s. I think this is how my grandfather met Pop Cooper in the first place. Again, that is a story for another day.

My father was raised knowing nothing of his birth family. At 21 when he met my mother and wanted to get married there was the difficult task of getting hold of a birth certificate. This was when the note was produced. At least they had a name and a date. It was at this moment in his life that he found out he was not a Cooper by birth but was in fact a Murray.

For all of my life this was the only narrative I had of my father. We knew nothing of his parents, siblings or their families, where they were from or where they were now. We knew from his birth certificate that his father came from South Africa. That was the only information that we had.

Over the last ten years I have spent hundreds of hours on Ancestry.com trying to piece together my fathers heritage and trying to find some of his relatives who may know more of his story. I have poured through police gazettes, news papers, books, sent letters of request for information to South Africa and followed up hundreds of leads on ancestry.com. The family tree now has over 1000 people on it and over 500 photos, but little to no information about my grandfather ‘Peter Murray’.

I do however have a description of him from a police gazette. A seemingly typical description of an inner city gang member in the 1920’s Melbourne. This is the last record I have of him.

2.11.31 Murray, Peter is charged, on warrant issued at the instance of Jane Mollross 14 Webb St Fitzroy, with deserting his child at Fitzroy. Description: – About 33 years, 5 ft 7 in. nuggety build, full face, clean shaven, black curly hair, gold front teeth: wore a blue twill suit.

Two front Gold teeth. Let me tell you, only gang members had gold teeth in the great depression.

After hitting some serious road blocks, I decided that maybe the next step was to get dad to do a DNA test. He was now 89 years old, frail and I was running out of time. Easter 2018 my husband and I went to visit dad and asked if he would humour me by spitting into this test tube. Dad looked at me like I had lost my mind.

“You want me to do what? You want me to spit into that tiny thing”. My step mother Maureen came to the rescue and encouraged him to do it reminding him of the DNA shows that they had watched together on TV.

Six weeks went by and nothing. 8 weeks, 10 weeks and still no results. I finally got correspondence from Ancestry to say that they tried 3 times to do the test but there just wasn’t enough spit.

By this stage my father was quite ill and soon after had a crippling fall which put him into hospital. He never came home. We buried him in the August.

Ancestry then sent me a replacement DNA kit as an apology for not being able to complete the test for my father. Of course it was too late now for my dad so I put it at the top of the cupboard and forgot about it.

In January this year I remembered the DNA test siting there and thought that I may as well go ahead and do the test myself. It was free and it might still open up some fresh leads. Boy was I in for a life changing moment.

Six weeks later I got an email to say that my test results were in and to activate the DNA results. I was so excited. Maybe I would find a cousin or aunt or uncle of my dads that could give some fresh light to his story.

I activated the test and watched in amazement as the results started filling the screen. I was pretty puzzled at first. The initial data I looked at was a pie chart which showed me my ethnicity estimate. It said that I was 46 % English and 46% Irish. The English was not suprising as my mothers family had all come from England. However the Irish? My research had shown that my grandfather was born in The Port of Saint John in South Africa.

hmmmm… okay well I thought I was Dutch South African but maybe they were Irish South African?

The next thing you see is DNA matches to people who share your DNA, and there were hundreds of them. It is so confronting. All these peoples names and photos and percentages load up on the page in order from the highest match to the lowest. The ones up the top said ‘Close Family’. How strange. I was expecting 2nd and 3rd cousins not close family.

I click on the first one which told me the name and showed me the photo of this beautiful woman. The results told me that we were 100% match.

Holy Moly Batman

100% – I wasnt expecting that ……..what the heck does that mean? There is a question mark icon at the side of the box which shows you the DNA relationship. This woman and I regisgtered as 100% either as a grandparent, grandchild, half sibling, aunt/uncle, niece or nephew.

Okay, so this is explainable. Holy Moly Batman, this must be my cousin. A child of one of my fathers siblings. Oh… no it doesn’t say cousin. Hmm Well its not a grandparent, she looks about 50 years or less. Can’t be an aunt or uncle because my dad is 90 and she is too young.

When I click on her profile there are contact details. So I decide to email her. Excited that finally some of the missing pieces of the puzzle will fall into place.

A couple of things to note: from here on in the names have been changed because this is a very fresh trauma and family are still processing this information. The other thing you should know is that sometimes people don’t check ancestry for many months. Imagine my surprise when I receive an immediate response.

This is how the connection went.

Hello Jade,

I have just done a DNA test with Ancestry and you came up as a close relative – so interesting. I was wondering where you live? I am in Melbourne Australia.

Lisa x

Hi Lisa,

Yes, we are very closely related. 

I am happy to have contact and share all that I know about our connection. I live in Melbourne. 

Take care, Jade

Hi Jade

Wow, this is crazy.

I would love to chat, email or catch up. Let me know what works for you.  
Lisa. 

Immediately the phone rang.

I am like Tigger bouncing around and so excited. It’s Jade. Ahhhhhh.

“Hey so great to hear from you. Wow this is amazing. I can’t believe it. Do you know how we are related”?

Jade: “Yes I do. How much of the story do you know”

Story… what story. No I don’t know anything.

I went on briefly to explain about why I had done the test and about my fathers recent death ect.. She was very lovely and very composed. She told me later that she was shocked to hear that I had absolutely no idea what she was about to say.

Then she drops the bomb.

“Lisa I do know how we are related. I am your half sister”

It’s at this point that I have my first anxiety attack. My mind is blank, I have gone hot and cold all over and I am feeling panicky. I am thinking: I don’t know this lovely lady, this could be a hoax, ancestry has made a mistake. This cannot be true. I have been hacked!

She goes on. Lisa is your mothers name Lauris. “Yes”

Did you grow up in Canterbury, did you attend Canterbury Girls High is your mother a florist? “Yes…. faint”

OMG….. how does this stranger know these things about me. I am now nearing full panic as she calmly and gently goes on to tell the story of what she knows.

‘Lisa, you have three half sisters. About ten years ago our father was dying from cancer and a friend came to talk to us to say. Girls, there is something that you need to know. You have another sister, a half sister and her name is Lisa Jane”. The girls go to talk to the dad on his death bed and he confirms the details of the other sister Lisa Jane (me).

It is at this stage that I start crying uncontrollably and start to shake. I think that Jade is crying too and she is apologising for having to give such explosive and devestating news to me. I explain that I need to hang up and try to process all of this and that I will call her back in a few days when I get my head together.

I was still very much in denial and unbelief. I had to talk to my mother. Until she confirmed it, it just wouldn’t be real.

Jade kindly asks me if I would like her to tell the other sisters that I am not ready to speak to them yet. “Yes please I reply through my tears, it’s going to take me a little while to process this shock”. We hang up.

Of course Jade and the other two sisters have been eagerly waiting for this moment. They decided 10 years ago that they would not try to find me, they didn’t want to ruin my life with this news. They believed that if we were meant to be together then the universe would make it happen. Well the universe and a simple DNA test certainly did make it happen. As soon as I activated my DNA results they were notified that I had connected on Ancestry so they went balistic. They were very excited that Lisa Jane had arrived on the scene.

My husband and I got NO sleep that night. At 7 am I called my mother and said, “Mum, I am coming over now. Cancel everything you have on this morning there is urgent news that I need to speak to you about”. I then called my aunt and my older sister asking that they meet me at mums house immediately. It was urgent and shocking news that I had to bring and I needed support. I needed my aunt there because I was worried that my mother would need support. Support that I couldn’t give her if my life was about to fall apart.

We arrived at my mothers within minutes of each other. Everyone pretty confused and distressed. I assured everyone that I and the kids were okay but that I had news that couldn’t wait. This is a little how it went.

“Mum. You and I have been through a lot together over the years and there have been many times when you have lied to me. Today is not going to be one of those days. Today I am going to ask you some questions and you are going to answer me with the truth.

Do you know a man called Kallan Callaway, did you have an affair with him before I was born”

My mother “Yes, yes I knew Kallan and yes we had an affair.”

Holy mother of pearl.

It would take a book to explain to you the next few hours. The questions, the confusion. My older sister sat quietly crying as it dawns on us that we are now half sisters not full blood sisters. I begin to hate that word half. My aunt is in shock and distressed for all of us. Later I have to work out how to tell my brother and younger sister and also to tell my children that their grandfather is not their grandfather.

I know that my dad is my dad and always will be. But this shocking news brings a tsunami of information with it. It reframes and changes all of my narratives. What about medical history, relatives, new nieces and nephews.

I share this difficult story to my kids through heartbreaking sobs. Hours later, once the shock begins to subside, they reach for their phones to check FB. Do we have new cousins? Are they our age? Did they grow up near us? What if I’ve dated one or kissed one? Do we have mutual friends on FB?

One of my sons says to me. “When poppy died, at the funeral everyone said how I had his legs and that I looked like him. Does this mean that I don’t have pops legs anymore”. I know this sounds funny but all of a sudden our family history and identity had been ripped out from underneath us.

It was trauma on a new level. I found myself kind of glad that my dad was not alive to go have to go through this. I was also confused about the ‘new Irish dad’ who was also dead and unable to talk or share his life with me and my children. What was his story? What does it now mean for me?

This ends Part One of this blog When Your Father is Not Your Father: The Shock Results of Ancestry DNA Test. In the next post I will write how I go about meeting my new sisters and the next part of the journey that has just begun. There is good and wonderful news to come and I will explain that in part 2. (insert hand clapping)

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.
Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Can We Please Stop Judging Each Other?

Can We Please Stop Judging Each Other? by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

Rarely a week goes by when I am not asked about my thoughts on homosexuality.

To be honest it is not an issue that worries me. I think there are far more pressing concerns in the world today. Also, please note: I am definitely, not an authority on this issue, I have just recorded my views a few times on this blog over that last few years.

I will put links at the end of this article for those who are interested. 

Just today my gorgeous local barista asked me what I was writing about on my blog at the moment.  He said, “I know what you should write about but we don’t agree on it”.  I said:  “Sam,  it’s perfectly fine that we don’t agree on things. That doesn’t even matter to me.  What matters is that I adore you and nothing will ever change that.  It is healthy to have discourse, discussion and disagreements.  What is important, is that it is done in love.

It annoys me that we spend so much time debating with each other about things that Jesus never once spoke about.  Jesus never once talked about birth control, homosexuality, and abortion—bodily “sins” because the body can most easily carry shame. We shouldn’t disregard bodily shame or addictions, but they are not the core problem. Jesus focused on issues of power, prestige, and possession—which all of us have largely ignored. 

If you are a follower of Christ and then your main concern should be love.  Jesus command was that we were to love God and love our neighbour.  He actually instructs us NOT to judge.   

I wonder what it would be like if we spent more time actually focussed on issues of power, inequality, prestige, consumerism and injustice instead of constantly pointing the finger and judging others.  So my opening comment about this topic is that we should lead with love and not with judgment or theology.  

At the very least, if we are not sure or don’t have the answers, don’t judge. 

The apostle Paul wrote, “Judge not, but wait for the Lord. He will bring to the light things now hidden in darkness, and disclose the secret purposes of the heart.

It’s actually not our job to judge.  We spend way too much of our time making up our minds about people.  Making decisions about them and  judging them. Are they right are they wrong?  Are they good or are they bad.  When you practice love you will stop judging others. You will love unconditionally.

God’s job is to judge, and ours is to love. 

Richard Rohr says that “Love is not really an action that you do. Love is what and who you are, in your deepest essence. Love is a place that already exists inside of you, but is also greater than you”.

When we judge, when we persecute, when we draw hard lines in the sand and build walls, we are operating out of a spirit that does not come from Jesus.  His is a love that includes, gathers, embraces and draws to himself.   He is full of compassion and peace.

“To die to our neighbours means to stop judging them, to stop evaluating them, and thus to become free to be compassionate. Compassion can never coexist with judgment because judgment creates the distance, the distinction, which prevents us from really being with the other.”

Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

Notice the reason Jesus warns against judgment. The danger in passing judgment on someone is that we’ll have our own standard come back to haunt us.  We don’t know the full story, we don’t know the end from the beginning.  How can we judge when we are ourselves fallen, broken and have darkness within us.   When we form judgements about others we actually become hypocrites.

“Or how can you say to your brother, Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye?” – Jesus

“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight ….And you look at the tree and you allow it. …You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You’re too this, or I’m too this.’ That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.” Ram Dass

But what about the biblical texts I hear you saying.  

Well there are many theologians who have grappled with these issues.   My own experience is that most of the clobber texts that are thrown around today against homosexuality are actually taken out of context.

My perhaps oversimplified ‘view’ at this time is that most or all of the Biblical passages about homosexuality are spoken about persons who are exercising their lusts and passions in selfish and/or violent and abusive ways, certainly not consistent with self-giving, sacrificial love.

No one is trying to make a case for promiscuous sexual behaviour regardless of what sexual orientation we may be talking about.  In fact, most of the sexual perversion, aggression, abuse and violence done in the world today is by heterosexual men.  I could write for days about that!

“What we are talking about today is a small percentage of the population across racial and geographic boundaries composed of same-sex oriented persons who genuinely desire to give their lives in self-giving, sacrificial loving covenant relationships with each other.  This is in my view very different from the matrix of most or all of the passages mentioning homosexuality in the Bible and I realise that scholars are divided on this”, (“Biblical Authority and Homosexuality” by Hardy Steinke)

I think Jesus gives us a very insightful clue of what awaits in the age to come.  There will be no marriage in the way that we now experience it. Matthew 22:30

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels[a] in heaven.

 Love is not ruled by gender. Love is not determined by gender. Love is not limited to gender.

I will end this little discussion by leaving you with some quotes on sexuality by some very well respected theologians who have a lot more gravitas than me.

Tony Campolo is an American sociologist, pastor, author, public speaker

As a social scientist, I have concluded that sexual orientation is almost never a choice and I have seen how damaging it can be to try to “cure” someone from being gay. As a Christian, my responsibility is not to condemn or reject gay people, but rather to love and embrace them, and to endeavour to draw them into the fellowship of the Church. When we sing the old invitation hymn, “Just As I Am”, I want us to mean it, and I want my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to know it is true for them too. (Tony Campolo)

Rest assured that I have already heard –and in some cases made – every kind of biblical argument against gay marriage, including those of Dr. Ronald Sider, my esteemed friend and colleague at Eastern University. Obviously, people of good will can and do read the scriptures very differently when it comes to controversial issues, and I am painfully aware that there are ways I could be wrong about this one.

However, I am old enough to remember when we in the Church made strong biblical cases for keeping women out of teaching roles in the Church, and when divorced and remarried people often were excluded from fellowship altogether on the basis of scripture. 

Not long before that, some Christians even made biblical cases supporting slavery. Many of those people were sincere believers, but most of us now agree that they were wrong. I am afraid we are making the same kind of mistake again,

Richard Rohr is a Franciscan friar ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church

Julian of Norwich sometimes refers to God as Father and sometimes refers to Jesus as Mother. Gender means almost nothing to her because she is beyond that. There’s something deeper than gender. As alluring and as important as gender is, as it is our metaphor held in our body, it is not our ontological identity. It is not our foundational, essential truth. Your gender is not the True Self. It’s part of the False Self.

That’s what Jesus is referring to when he says, “…in heaven, they neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Mark 12:25). But because gender is so deep in our early conditioning, in many of our lives we cling to it until the very end.

Male and female are most different at their most immature levels and most alike at their most mature levels. When you have matured to the point where you are beyond the dualisms that our dualistic minds have imposed on reality, then you know you are children of the resurrection. You are children of light and there is no male or female, as both Paul and the Gospel of Thomas say. 

People who already begin to experience such unity in this world will usually find it very easy to be compassionate toward lesbian, gay, and transgendered people, because they know that the True Self, who we objectively are in God, is prior and superior to any issues of gender, culture, or sexuality. Gender is important, but it is still an “accidental” part of the human person and not its substance.

The object and goal of all spirituality is finally the same for all genders: union, divine love, inner aliveness, soul abundance, forgiveness of offenses, and generous service to the neighbor and the world. Here “there is no distinction…between male and female” (Galatians 3:28). Mature Christian spirituality leads us toward such universals and essentials. Yet people invariably divide and argue about nonessentials!

Walter Brueggeman is an American Protestant Old Testament scholar and theologian. Brueggemann is widely considered one of the most influential Old Testament scholars of the last several decades.

“I know those texts are in the Bible, but the Bible is a dynamic tradition that’s always on the move to new truth. If you track that out, probably the ultimate statement about that is made by Paul in Galatians 3, that in Christ there is neither male nor female, Greek nor

Barbarian, slave or free. We are all one in Christ. And what we know in the gospel is that God’s love reaches toward all of God’s creatures. To sort them out in terms of who are the deserving and the qualified and who are not is imposing a judgment on human reality that simply cannot be done.

But some Christians fear disobeying God when it comes to LGBTQ issues. Because of What the Bible says, they fear that they are compromising the gospel. Well, what we do is to pick and choose things out of the Bible that conform to our fears. It’s not a matter of obeying the Bible — it’s about obeying the gospel. The gospel is about God’s saving love that wants to restore all of humanity to full communion. To reach back to an ancient text that has now been corrected by the revelation of God in Jesus Christ is simply a bad manoeuvre and poor methodology and theologically irresponsible. Those texts are not the determinative texts.

The texts that are determinative are those that talk about the love of God that has been shown to us in Jesus. We can’t compromise that.”

Links: Homosexuality A Chat

Homosexuality and Human Rights by Vicki Beeching

Welcoming but Not Affirming: Getting to the Slippery Truth by Nicole Conner

Why I Love the Gay Community by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.
Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


When Suffering Comes from an Angle you Never Expected.

Have you been in a season of great darkness, of suffering? Have you lost all sense of hope and faith?

This year for me has been one of shock, great challenges, bleak darkness and overwhelming sorrow. In fact the four words that would use to describe the last four months would be: “I have no words”.

Today I started to consider the two words hope and faith. What do they even mean? Have I lost all hope? Have I lost my faith?

What is Hope?

This was to be the title of this post. As I stared at a blank page I searched my soul to remember what it was that I had hoped for or in? In the face of great suffering and chaos hope is difficult to grasp. I pulled out some of my comfort books. Richard Rohrs Hope against Darkness and The Naked Now and John O’ Donohues Eternal Echoes. As I did and I zeroed in on the word darkness and unexpectadly stumbled into an Ah Haaa moment.

John O’ Donohue wrote these words that helped to reset my compass in the darkness.

“There is no life that is not called at some time to walk through the bleak valley of suffering. This is a path without hope, without shelter and without light. When suffering comes into your life it brings great loneliness and isolation”.

Of course…. ‘hello Darkness my old friend’.

Of course…. when things are dark you cannot see. No wonder I could not see hope or light. I was siting with my old friend darkness.

Suffering, when it comes, unhinges and dislocates us. Disorientated it takes a while to realise what is happening. “Suffering is the arrival of darkness from an angle you never expected” (O Donohue Eternal Echoes). It is a great shock that numbs us for many weeks and months. Gradually our poor soul begins to awaken from the shock to try and make sense of what is happening and when it does it looks around and can’t figure out why it cannot see. Why is everything so dark and bleak? Because the light has gone and we are sitting alone again with our friend darkness.

“When suffering comes the darkness has arrived. The light is out. Even your faith falls away. When you are at the heart of great pain, you enter a land of sheer desolation” (O’Donohue Eternal Echoes).

I call darkness our friend because it is one of our closest companions. Darkness is part of the natural order of life and soul. Just as the sun, moon and stars have their part to play in the cosmos, so does light and darkness have its part to play in bearing life and transformation both in the natural and in the spiritual.

Although we live and work in the light, we were conceived and shaped in darkness. You cannot grow unless you return to darkness.

Imagine the shock of seeds, born and raised in the sun to be suddenly plunged into utter darkness and smothered by clay and damp soil. “The seed has no defence, it must give way, abandoning itself to the new weave of life that will thread forth from its own dissolving” (O’Donohue Eternal Echoes).

New life and growth will eventually burst through the soil. Transformed into a new plant or tree. Its roots plunging down deep into the darkness, its branches reaching up to the light. This is the cycle of life and growth and transformation.

It is here that I find my hope.

What is it that I hope in?

I have hope in the fact that out of the darkest of nights and in the deepest of valleys, light and life eventually come. I cannot see at the moment but that is as it should be. The darkness does not last forever but it is necessary. The darkness may have come as a shock and from an angle that I never expected, but it has come to weave the magic of life and transformation in me so that what once would have been seen as incomprehensible suffering, will one day be seen as new life. A tree that will one day bring shelter and fruit to others who are suffering.

While you are cowering in a dark valley it is impossible to understand what is happening to you. You have to trust the darkness and wait. Light is a gift that suffering leaves behind. Out of the cold hard winter ground a new springtime of possibilities begin to arise.

All great spirituality comes through letting go. All transformation comes through the pathways of love and suffering. The most amazing thing about Jesus is that he taught us that God and change are to be found in mess, darkness, weakness, imperfection and disorder.

Today I feel joy begin to emerge as I realise that I still have faith in wisdom, truth, mystery and paradox. I have hope in darkness, transformation and life. I can hope in the mysteries of the seasons. That there is a time and a season for everything under the sun. Some of us it seems are more familiar with the darkness. It is not my job to wonder and worry about this. It is my job to be patient and to trust that the darkness is part of the process of life and that it never lasts forever.

When we are called to stand in places of pain may we be blessed by seasons of light.

7 Signs You Grew Up With Childhood Emotional Neglect

Childhood Emotional Neglect is both simple in its definition and powerful in its effects. It happens when your parents fail to respond enough to your emotional needs while they’re raising you. Emotional Neglect is an invisible, unmemorable childhood…

Source: 7 Signs You Grew Up With Childhood Emotional Neglect

By
15 Jul 2018

Do You…

1. Sometimes feel like you don’t belong when with your family or friends ?

2. Pride yourself on not relying upon others ?

3. Have difficulty asking for help ?

4. Have friends or family who complain that you are aloof or distant ?

5. Feel you have not met your potential in life ?

6. Often just want to be left alone ?

7. Secretly feel that you may be a fraud ?

8. Tend to feel uncomfortable in social situations ?

9. Often feel disappointed with, or angry at, yourself ?

10. Judge yourself more harshly than you judge others ?

11. Compare yourself to others and often find yourself sadly lacking?

12. Find it easier to love animals than people ?

13. Often feel irritable or unhappy for no apparent reason?

14. Have trouble knowing what you’re feeling ?

15. Have trouble identifying your strengths and weaknesses?

16. Sometimes feel like you’re on the outside looking in ?

17. Believe you’re one of those people who could easily live as a hermit ?

18. Have trouble calming yourself ?

19. Feel there’s something holding you back from being present in the moment?

20. At times feel empty inside ?

21. Secretly feel there’s something wrong with you ?

22. Struggle with self-discipline ?

Look back over your YES answers. These answers give you a window into the areas in which you may have experienced Emotional Neglect as a child. The more questions you answered “Yes”, the more likely CEN has affected your life.

Neither Here nor There – The Many Voices of Liminality

Source: Neither Here nor There – The Many Voices of Liminality

Neither Here nor There – The Many Voices of Liminality

‘Jesus, on whom be peace, said
This world is a bridge.
Pass over it but do not build your dwelling there.’

(Inscribed in Persian on Buland Darwaza, the main gateway to the palace at Fatehpur Sikri, south of Delhi, India
by the Moghul emperor Akbar I in 1601)

Last year, I had the opportunity and privilege to contribute to an anthology on a subject that I am most interested and passionate about – liminality. I have blogged on this topic numerous times. Here are some introductory posts:

This latest compilation is the brainchild of pastor, writer, editor and friend, Tim Carson, who has written a variety of other books. I love Tim’s definition of liminality in his chapter contribution:

The experience of liminality is feeling a loss of steady and familiar landmarks, the kind of security that accompanied past structure, even as the future has not yet materialized. With everything in flux, angst becomes the predominant mood. Very often action seems fruitless because some transitions cannot be hurried. One has entered an incubation period in which time shifts. The liminal person does not necessarily know that transformation is occurring at the time it is happening. Does a caterpillar have any idea that metamorphosis is about to take place as it enters the cocoon?

I wept reading that. It resonated so deeply with my own life experience.

Barbara Brown Taylor writes the foreword for this book. Yes, I was slightly dizzy when I heard this and I went into serious fangirl mode. I love love love her writings. In her foreword, she acknowledges how most of the contributors did not consent to go on a liminal journey, but life took them there anyway. Some were catapulted into the liminal space through ‘war, illness, abuse, or natural disaster. Others found themselves there due to poverty, gender, apartheid, or immigration.’

Personally, I found solace and comfort in the stories of this communal motley crew of liminal travellers, sharing their bewilderment at finding themselves ‘betwixt and between’ where ‘the only way through is through. There are no guarantees … To engage liminal space is to live in faith, not certainty.’

This post would be too long if I discussed every chapter. Instead, I offer one of my favourite quotes from each chapter. If you are wandering the shadowy, mystical path of liminality, may it be a light to you in dark times.

I’ve heard some people describe liminality in the language of Celtic spirituality: a thin place, a narrow place, a place where the living and the dead commune, where heaven and earth all regard each other. Hell too, I hope. Otherwise, what’s the point?’ Pádraig Ó Tuama

I discovered my first hummingbirds as a small child in the gardens of the Theological Community in Mexico City where I was encouraged to nourish my love for nature while caring for others by cooperating, respecting, and sharing in the many social and spiritual activities with people from all over Latin America. Tucked gently away in my soul and mind is the gift of seeing the world from the borderlands, the in-between spaces, the nepantlera of ‘either/or’ and’ neither/nor,’ with thousands of beautiful colour hues and nuances of language and culture.’Elena Huegel

Ultimately, the purpose of pilgrimage is to bring the pilgrim, transformed in the journey, back home again.Kristine Culp

The liminal dimension undergirds all human experience. In some sense, there is nothing that is not liminal. We live our lives (and perhaps find sanity) by fashioning fixed structures of meaning and identity; selves and narratives that are generally static and contained. But that is not life, as much as it is the mask we put onto life. Meanwhile, the liminal waits for us.Joshua Boettiger

Liminality is essentially and always a middle. It is the moment of in-between-ness where what has been is gone, but what will be has not yet arrived. In Christian spirituality, it is the moment of Holy Saturday, when Christ has died but is not yet risen. There is nothing to be done on Holy Saturday except to learn how to die with Christ, in the hope that one day – but not today – life will be restored by resurrection.’ Michelle Trebilcock

War is a universal experience of social liminality. If the scale of hostilities is sufficiently large, war can expand to even global liminality. Societies and nations are cast into a time between the times, a state of being filled with uncertainty and dread. For warriors within these societies, war represents a rite of passage, a transition that changes the identity of those who enter warand the community of those who share it.’ Kate Hendricks Thomas

‘In the aftermath of the tornado, liminal time moved at its own pace, mostly slower than we might have preferred.’ Jill Cameron Michel

Adoptees exist between families for their entire lives. They are products of legal and biological families, but not fully either. This liminal space is their reality, and from it comes complex identity work. The extent to which adoptees engage with the liminality of their adoption status emerges as a product of individual, contextual, and familial characteristics.’ Colleen Warner Colaner

‘The literature of the ancient desert monks and medieval Celtic saints is extensive and filled with many tales like this. In this liminal time, when climate change presents us with an opaque and uncertain future, can the literature that emerged from the liminal experience of Christian contemplatives in late antiquity offer us any wisdom for navigating our challenges in better ways?’ Timothy Robinson

‘The liminal is the space between; it is a state in which the classifications of the everyday are bracketed to reveal an alternative order, a more basic relatedness, which undergirds the everyday power and position exemplified by given cultural norms.’ Adam Pryor

‘Cancer is the quintessential liminal experience as it includes all the stages – pre-liminal, liminal, reintegration – and all the classic elements of the liminal journey: end of one way of life, loss of identity and status, bewilderment, confusion, ambiguity, reversal of hierarchy, uncertainty. Patients are between life as they once knew it and an uncertain future.’ Debra Jarvis

‘When I crossed the threshold into the strange world of incarceration, I was ushered into a state of permanent liminality, a time and space between the past and some seemingly unobtainable future. My life was stuck in a time between the times, a place between the spaces. Unlike van Gennep’s Rites of Passage, however, there was no design for movement, for transformation in the liminal passage.’ Jacob Davis

‘The stories that we tell to make sense of our world and our lives simultaneously open up certain possibilities for action and close others off. They define and limit the options we think exist. The danger is that we become so enamored with our own narrative that we shut ourselves from the narratives of the “other.” What if each of us needs both the presence and the narratives of the other to navigate the ambiguities of liminality?’ John Eliastam

‘Our collective challenge for the future is to produce a society that accepts diversity, welcomes difference, and champions human rights for all its citizens. If accomplished, this might enable Turner’s view of positive social change through community building actually to become reality. One can always remain hopeful.’ Diane Dentice and Michelle Dietert

‘To examine the liminal, where it may reside, are we well advised to avoid the paved road where, by following the markers, we do arrive, but it just may be a camouflaged dead end?’Kenneth Krushel

Let me end this post with a quote from my chapter. Writing this piece was part of a healing journey. I am grateful.

‘The gift of liminality, presented to me wrapped in pain, exile, and humiliation has assisted me in recognizing many of my ego’s trappings and yearnings. In this place, I have been confronted and stripped of much of the baggage that I carried over the years … of trying to live up to all sorts of expectations. Liminality, like the character V in the film V for Vendetta, showed me the bars of my ideological and structural prison, all dressed up in religious moralizing – and once you see, you cannot un-see.’

If you would like to order this book, you can do so via Lutterworth Press

What is Hell?

What is Hell? by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

We are a product of our history.  Much of our theology has been formed by the ancient church, by medieval thinking and by our personal theology.   Recently I was asked, ‘Do you believe in Hell and if so what or where is Hell’?

What is my view on Hell?  This stumped me for a while?  I actually found it pretty difficult to answer.  So this post comes out of weeks and weeks of me digging around in my theology attempting to work out what it is that I believe.  I actually came up with more questions than answers but here goes.

Hell:

Our first images of Heaven and Hell came from the middle ages where heaven and hell were seen as places of reward and punishment.  You may like to read my post on What is Heaven?  

The most prominent illustration of hell from this period was by Dante’s Divine Comedy.  He portrays Hell as nine circles in the centre of the earth where Satan dwells  (Mc Grath).

There are a few differing doctrines on Hell.  “One, the traditional Christian model of hell, articulated by some of the West’s most historically significant philosophers and theologians, hell involves permanent, conscious suffering for the purpose of punishing human sin. According to annihilationism, the damned ultimately cease to exist and so are not conscious. According to the free will view of hell, the purpose of hell is to respect the choice of the damned not to be with God in heaven. Finally, according to universalism, there is either no hell at all, or only a temporary hell” (Ref).

The most common translation for the word ‘Hell’ in the New Testament is Gehenna.  It was an actual location in Jerusalem. The term Gehenna is derived from the Valley of Hinnom, traditionally considered by the Jews the place of the final punishment of the ungodly. It was an old rubbish heap outside the southwest corner of the old city.  A smouldering smoking rubbish dump. The valley was used as a burial-place for criminals and for burning garbage.  They used sulphur, the flammable substance we now use in matches and gunpowder. Thus when the Jews talked about punishment in the next life, what better image could they use than the smoldering valley they called gehenna? (ref)

‘What Jesus was meaning in this reference when he referred to Gehenna was not that they would burn in hell as our medieval ancestors have translated, but that if they did not turn away from their hopeless and rebellious dreams of establishing Gods Kingdom on their own terms, Rome would do what all larger empires do when they take over smaller ones,  Rome would turn Jerusalem into a smouldering stinking rubbish heap and that is exactly what has happened and it is still smouldering and stinking.  When Jesus said: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish”  that was the primary meaning that he had in mind’ (N.T. Wright).

Jesus did say that who reject God will go away into eternal punishment,” which is “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels”. Elsewhere in Matthew (8:12, 22:13, 24:51, and 25:30), Jesus invokes a rather different image, suggesting that hell is “outer darkness” (that is, outside heaven) “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.  Though not always expressly stated, the implication is that the punishment will have duration and be endless.” John F. Walvoord in Four Views on Hell, p. 20

13342979_1763948663818141_4944575919561972327_n
Photo Cred:  Matt Lawson Photography

I come from the Christian worldview of eternal life. I think that heaven and hell are linked and that the goal is actually life now, not later and that it be a life that is demonstrating the goodness of God to those around us now and to the care of the planet.  N.T.Wright also confirms the connection saying that hell is necessary as part of the ethics of heaven.

Otherwise, it’s chaos. Unless God hates child murderers, child rapists, whatever, then God is a bad God. But God wants them to change. If they say, “No, this is the way for me to be human. I like doing this stuff,” then God will say, “Well, I’m sorry. There is no place in my new creation for somebody who insists on remaking their own humanity in that deadly way (Ref)

My view on Hell is similar to C. S. Lewis.  His book The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is a good picture of life without God – the frozen paralysing fear of Narnia.

Personally, my view of Hell would be considered the ‘free will’ view.  According to the free will view, one of God’s purposes in creation is to establish genuine love-based relationships between God and humans, and within the human community. But love is a relation that can exist only between people who are genuinely free. Therefore, God gives people freedom in this life to decide for themselves whether or not they will reciprocate God’s love by becoming the people God created them to be (Ref).

It teaches that God places the damned in hell not to punish them, but to honor the choices they have freely made. On this view, hell originates not so much from divine justice as from divine love.
Jesus prayed “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Lewis says in The Great Divorce:

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’” He is saying that Hell is actually life without God.

When someone says, “I do not want to have a relationship with God,” in that limited sense they ultimately get their way. The unbeliever’s “wish” to be away from God turns out to be his worst nightmare. The ultimate or eternal absence of God is an eternity without goodness where you will live with your own poor character.

“In one of his few treatments of hell in Following Jesus, Tom Wright employed a metaphor which would have made Lewis proud. He imagined a grand piano that had once played brilliant music, but it changed hands and fell into disuse. Eventually wormwood set in to the disused piano and it was chopped up and used for kindling (p. 91)“.
Second Thessalonians 1:9 describes hell like this:

“They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord.”

Where God withdraws, there can be no good.  So, in Lewis’s terms, the unbeliever gets what he wants — God’s absence — yet with it gets what he doesn’t want — the loss of all good.

I hope that this has helped a little.  It is a very abbreviated look at these topics which I found a little overwhelming to be honest.  I would be interested to hear your thoughts. Happy to be corrected.

Featured Art by Matt Lawson:

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.
Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on-line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

References:

Christian Theology by Alister McGrath

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, top-selling author and Anglican bishop, N.T. Wright tackles the biblical question of what happens after we die and shows how most Christians get it wrong. We do not “go to” heaven; we are resurrected and heaven comes down to earth–a difference that makes all of the difference to how we live on earth.

Beginning to see as the mystics see by  Richard Rohr

Why does it take so long for someone to reveal that they have been abused as a child?

“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.”
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

**This article comes with trigger warnings**.  One in four adults has been abused as a child.

Why does it take so long for someone to reveal that they have been abused as a child?  

This is a question that I get asked a lot.  It is the question that every abused adult hates to hear.  There are many reasons why someone does not report childhood abuse. It is a complex and multilayered issue.

In this post, the word ‘abuse’ refers to sexual abuse, physical abuse, psychological abuse, neglect and emotional abuse.  All are horrific, all are damaging and all are the enemies of a fragile developing personality.

The World Health Organization distinguishes four types of child maltreatment: physical abuse; sexual abuse; emotional (or psychological) abuse; and neglect.

Myths: Let’s get the myths out of the way.   These myths are all untrue and yet are still upheld by our current society.

1: It is only abuse if it’s violent.

  • Child abuse does not necessarily involve violence or anger.

2:  They are making it up to get attention. 

  • Research shows that it is extremely rare for a child to make up an abuse report.

3:  Children usually tell someone.

  • Most children do not tell anyone. They are often silenced through threats or fear of not being believed.  Some children don’t have the words to speak about what is happening to them.

4:  You can just get over it

  • You can’t just “get over” it.  Survivors need the right care and support to overcome the impacts of abuse, recover and live full and healthy lives.

5:  You can’t forget child abuse

  • For over one hundred years, traumatic amnesia has been documented amongst war veterans, survivors of natural and man-made disasters, and adult survivors of child abuse.

6:  If they were really abused why didn’t they report it or tell someone?

  • The average time for a victim to speak out is 22 years after the last incidence of abuse, but it can be much, much longer.
  • The Australian police used to have a ‘Historical Sexual Crimes’ unit.  It is now called the SOClT Coordination Team because it became obvious that most of the reports of childhood abuse were historical.  SOCIT stands for Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Teams.

In our society, it seems that people see violent sexual abuse as the top of the totem pole and rarely give value to other forms of crippling abuse.  Along with that thinking comes the value placement of the types of sexual abuse.  This in turns devalues the abuse that a child experiences.  If they have not been raped or experienced full on sexual intercourse, is it really abuse?

  • “Oh he only used to come into my bed and massage my breasts every night, it really wasn’t that bad”.
  • “He didn’t rape me, he only used to rub himself against me whilst he inserted things inside me”.
  • “Mother used to give me enemas every week as a child,  it was very painful, embarrassing and uncomfortable but I guess I was constipated a lot as a child.  She could be quite mean to me and used to call me names like “Her little skunk, and her fat little piggie””.

In my experience, the ‘abuses’ are usually woven together in a complex web of fear.  Children rarely experience one form of abuse at a time. Recent research by McGill University (2015) showed that emotional abuse of a child may be as harmful as physical abuse and neglect, while child sexual abuse often occurs together with other forms of maltreatment.

Emotional abuse is also called psychological abuse (maltreatment). It is the most common form of child abuse. It is also experienced by children witnessing domestic violence. Emotional abuse often occurs together with physical and sexual abuse. Many parents and caregivers  are emotionally abusive without being violent or sexually abusive (source)

Along with the abuse comes verbal conditioning from the abusers – enter psychological and emotional abuse.

  • Normalisation:  if it is a parent or sibling the child grows up thinking that this is just how every family operates.  It is normalised.  They have no world view or perspective.  This is what happens in their family.  How are they supposed to know otherwise?
  • Minimisation:  The abuser often coos sentences like – “I love you,  I don’t want to hurt you”.  “This feels good, doesn’t it?”  “If you love me you will help me”.  The child feels guilty.  It’s not that bad.
  • Fear and threat:  “If you tell anyone I will hurt your baby brother”.  “If you tell anyone about our secret you will be put in jail”.
  • Pain:  Pain is a powerful protector of abusers.  The pain usually causes a child to dissociate.  They repress the pain into another place so that they can function.  Pain partners with abuse and plunges memories into a deep dark place that never sees the light of day.  If this happens often enough it creates a condition called DID.  Dissociation Identity Disorder.  Experienced and serial abusers will purposely harm a child, breaking bones and or causing extreme pain because they know that the child will never tell if the child never remembers.
     
    • Dissociation –  is a protective response to overwhelming stress and a common feature of diverse forms of trauma (Howell & Itzkowitz, 2016: 35).
    • Experience too overwhelming to be processed is dissociated, and becomes inaccessible to consciousness, and may subsequently intrude unexpectedly (be `recovered’)and consciously recalled.
    • You can read more about dissociation here.
Unknown

Why does it take so long for someone to reveal that they have been abused as a child?

Let’s unpack this question a little more and look at some of the reasons why an adult who has experience childhood abuse does not report it.

1: He/she does not know they have been abused. 

I suffered neglect and maltreatment as a child.  I was 50 before I realised this.  I had spent the last 10 years unpacking sexual childhood abuse, abandonment and spiritual abuse,  I didn’t realise that neglect and maltreatment were also present at the party.

2:  Shame.  If the child does remember who does she tell.  Who will believe him?

Abuse, by its very nature, is humiliating and dehumanizing. The natural reaction to abuse is a feeling of shame. As a self-conscious emotion, shame informs us of an internal state of inadequacy, unworthiness, dishonour, regret, or disconnection.  So it is no wonder that shame avoidance can lead to withdrawal or to addictions that attempt to mask its impact.

3:  Language.  The child does not have the language or understanding of what is happening to him/her.  Imagine you are 5 years old and someone is sexually and psychologically abusing you.  What words do you have at five or six to make sense of your world? About all you can do is understand that: 1:  It hurts.  2:  It is scary 3:  It feels wrong but you don’t know why.  4:  You don’t want anyone else to get hurt.

4:  Confused reality and abuse of power.   The abuser is still in my life and everyone loves them.  What if the abuser if a very charming and charismatic mother or father.  What if your uncle is beloved by all.  What if your pastor or school teacher is a powerful person that everyone admires?  Who is going to believe your confused memories of what happened to you?  What will be the cost?  More shame.  More confusion. More rejection and anger?   Better to stay quiet.

5:  The need to forgetChildhood trauma – particularly child abuse by primary caregivers – is the most obvious context in which ‘forgetting’ provides survival value.  Because children depend on their caregivers for survival, the need to attach to them is paramount, regardless of how the child is treated by them.  ‘Many studies have demonstrated evidence that it is common to forget, and later remember, parts or all of the serious traumatic events such as child sexual abuse’ (Barlow et al, `Trauma and Memory’). While our brains are wired to remember experiences important to survival, in some circumstances ‘forgetting’ may assist survival (source).

Forgetting abuse preserves the attachment relationship when the victim depends on the abuser. Although there are various ways to remain blind to betrayal, perhaps the most effective way is to forget the event entirely’

(Freyd & Birrell, 2013: 58)

“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defence. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it upon herself, and in any case, it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail.”
Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

6: Memory

Broadly speaking, there are two types of memory: those that are explicit and those that are implicit, the former being conscious and the latter relatively unconscious.

(Peter Levine, `The Fabric of Memory’ 2015: 15).

`It is crucial to appreciate that emotional memories are experienced in the body as physical sensations’.(Levine, 2015:22)
  • Memory is not a single entity which only relates to conscious recall.  There are different types of memory which stored in different areas of the brain
  • `Explicit’ memory is conscious while `implicit’ memory is largely unconscious
  • Explicit (conscious) memory can generally be expressed verbally while implicit (largely unconscious) memory is not verbalised
  • Implicit memories are elicited by environmental cue/s such as a fragrance, sight or sound, and embodied in activities (e.g. sleeping) which occur without conscious awareness

This analogy helps us to understand the types of memory:

`The kind of memory that enables us to ride the bike is called implicit memory; our ability to recall the day we were taught to ride is explicit memory’.

Traumatic memories are a particularly intense and devastating form of implicit memory.
 
Example: 
 

The pleasant implicit memory of a happy summer’s day – emphasised by the smell of freshly mown grass.

A trigger such as an environmental prompt (in this case the smell of freshly mown grass) can re-traumatise someone who was assaulted in a field in which the grass had just been cut.

Trauma `triggers’ may seem minor to those who do not experience them in that way. But the traumatised person remains vulnerable as long as the trauma remains unresolved.

 

7:  Betrayal Blindness:  Betrayal blindness happens to both children and adults.  The need to survive, to keep the family unit together trumps remembering and exposing the traumatic event.

Another important factor is safety.  It may not be safe to disclose or acknowledge the memories of trauma even years after the initial trauma has occurred. 

  • Depending on the context and conditions, both remembering and`forgetting’ may be healing and/or destructive (Stavropoulos P.A. & Kezelman C.A.)

I hope that this has helped bring some understanding and language around the horror of childhood abuse.  I will be following this up with a post about when and how to report childhood abuse.

An article which I found extremely helpful was The Truth of Memory and The Memory of Truth: Different types of Memory and the Significance for Trauma: Stavropoulos P.A. & Kezelman C.A.  This can be found on the Blue Knot Foundation website.

If this article has triggered a negative response in you –  please seek help.

Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14 – Crisis Support and Suicide Prevention

You can call 1800RESPECT  which is Confidential information, counselling and support service.  Open 24 hours to support people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.

The Blue Knot Foundation – National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma.  

Blue Knot Foundation is Australia’s National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma, empowering recovery and building resilience for the five million adult Australians (1 in 4) with a lived experience of childhood trauma (including abuse), their families and communities.

Formed in 1995, Blue Knot Foundation provides a range of services including:

  • specialist trauma counselling, information, support and referrals
  • educational workshops for survivors and their family members, partners and loved ones
  • professional development training for workers, professionals and organisations from diverse sectors
  • group supervision
  • consultancy
  • resources including fact sheets, videos and website information at http://www.blueknot.org.au
  • advocacy
  • research

http://www.blueknot.org.au
Blue Knot Helpline 1300 657 380

Final Quotes:

“Abuse manipulates and twists a child’s natural sense of trust and love. Her innocent feelings are belittled or mocked and she learns to ignore her feelings. She can’t afford to feel the full range of feelings in her body while she’s being abused—pain, outrage, hate, vengeance, confusion, arousal. So she short-circuits them and goes numb. For many children, any expression of feelings, even a single tear, is cause for more severe abuse. Again, the only recourse is to shut down. Feelings go underground.”
Laura Davis, Allies in Healing: When the Person You Love Is a Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse

“Violators cannot live with the truth: survivors cannot live without it. There are those who still, once again, are poised to invalidate and deny us. If we don’t assert our truth, it may again be relegated to fantasy. But the truth won’t go away. It will keep surfacing until it is recognized. The truth will outlast any campaigns mounted against it, no matter how mighty, clever, or long. It is invincible. It’s only a matter of which generation is willing to face it and, in so doing, protect future generations from ritual abuse.”
Chrystine Oksana, Safe Passage to Healing: A Guide for Survivors of Ritual Abuse

“So often survivors have had their experiences denied, trivialized, or distorted. Writing is an important avenue for healing because it gives you the opportunity to define your own reality. You can say: This did happen to me. It was that bad. It was the fault & responsibility of the adult. I was—and am—innocent.” The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis”
Ellen Bass, The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been online since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Understanding Mental Health

Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. (WHO)

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. Most of us at some time in our life will experience a mental health issue.  In fact one out of  four of us will experience  psychological distress at some stage.

Mental health or mental illness are interchangeable terms.   Mental health is as varied and individual as people themselves.  Some people fully recover after one episode and others can have recurring episodes or long standing mental health issues.  People from any background can experience mental health issues, although those who have experienced trauma or social dislocation are more vulnerable.

If we were to look at a ‘wellbeing’ scale: with 1 being good and 10 being awful, over the course of our lives we will move up and down that scale depending on what we are experiencing.  There is an ebb and flow depending on what is happening in our life.

1: ______________________________________________ 10

If we are in a season where we are struggling it is important that we get a diagnosis because it helps Doctors and Psychologists work out how to help you.

Many people feel that they don’t want to be labelled or defined by their illness.  A way to help you think about diagnosis is the jam jar analogy by Tim Read .

“When you look at the nutrition facts on a jar of jam many ingredients will be listed”

figf

“Diagnosis can be looked at as just one of the ingredients on the list.  The diagnosis is important but is does not represent the whole jar of jam.  It is just one part of it”.

Causes of mental health problems

A number of overlapping factors may increase your risk of developing a mental health problem. These can include:

  • Early life experiences: abuse, neglect, or the loss of someone close to you
  • Individual factors: level of self-esteem, coping skills and thinking styles
  • Current circumstances: stress at school or work, money problems, difficult personal relationships, or problems within your family
  • Biological factors: family history of mental health problems (Headspace)

mind artist

 

Step One:

The first port of call is your local doctor.  Preferably you will make a relationship with a family doctor who knows you and has some understanding of who you are.  A general practitioner will be able to put you onto a mental health plan.  This means that your visits to a psychologist will be substantially subsidised.  When you call to make an appointment please make a double appointment so that you have the time that you need to talk through your issues.

Step Two: Psychologist – Psychiatrist 

Talking therapy  is very valuable to your recovery.  This is a term used when visiting a psychologist.  A psychologist works directly with those experiencing difficulties, such as mental health disorders including anxiety and depression. They help people to overcome relationship problems, eating disorders, learning problems, substance abuse, parenting issues, or to manage the effects of a chronic illness.

A Psychiatrist is a qualified medical doctor who has obtained additional qualifications to become a specialist in the diagnosis, treatment and can prescribe medications.

First Hand Experience

I had a chat with my friend Tim Read who has experienced ongoing mental health issues and who also runs peer led support groups for mental health and wellness.  Tim explains that for his journey the turning point came when he read a book called “Back from the Brink”by Graeme Cowan

Back from the Brink is a brave book that offers practical advice:

“Centred on interviews with several people from of all walks of life, …Back from the Brink offers people with depression and bipolar disorder real hope and real advice, as well as practical tools for putting what they’ve learned into practice in recovering from their symptoms”(Source).

Tim goes on to say that he needed to restructure the way that he was thinking.  Instead of constantly looking for a cure or a fix,  he needed to look at how to manage his mental illness.  This was the first time that he felt in control and able to manage.

Therapies

There are many therapies that help with mental illness and your psychologist will talk to you about these.

One of them is Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a treatment based on the idea that how you think and act affects how you feel.

In CBT, you work with a therapist to recognise the patterns of thinking that cause you problems (Mind Health).

  1. First you will work with your therapist to understand what are the most troubling problems for you
  2. Then you work out what your thoughts, emotions and beliefs are about these situations.
  3. You will identify which of these thoughts, emotions and beliefs are negative or inaccurate.
  4. Working with your therapist, you find ways to challenge them. You might ask yourself: is that true? Or you might ask yourself: so what?
  5. Then you can find ways to think and act that are less harmful to you.

Dr Russ Harris, author of the international best-selling self-help book ‘The Happiness Trap’, is an world-renowned trainer of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT). Russ’s background is in medicine. As a GP he became increasingly interested in the psychological aspects of health and wellbeing, and increasingly disenchanted with writing prescriptions.

woman meditating

ACT uses Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a mental state of awareness, focus and openness – which allows you to engage fully in what you are doing at any moment. In a state of mindfulness, difficult thoughts and feelings have much less impact and influence over you – so it is hugely useful for everything from full-blown psychiatric illness to enhancing athletic or business performance (Act Mindfully).

The goal of ACT is to create a rich and meaningful life, while accepting the pain that inevitably goes with it. ‘ACT’ is a good abbreviation, because this therapy is about taking effective action guided by our deepest values and in which we are fully present and engaged. It is only through mindful action that we can create a meaningful life.

Moving Forward

There is a lot of progress happening in the arena of mental illness.  Clinicians are increasingly looking at mental health from a holistic perspective.

Dr James Courtney is a Clinical Psychologist, lecturer and Placement Coordinator at the Monash Psychological Centre.  I had a chance to speak with him on this topic recently.

There is a huge push to look into the impact of genetics and DNA on a patient.  They have found for instance that panic attacks are 7 times more likely to have been inherited in your DNA.

‘Following a Biopsychosocial model of treatment, we try to look at a whole lot of influences including genetics and the influences that you had on you as a child.  We try to understand the whole journey”.

It is now possible to have a DNA test and have your medication personally fitted to your specific DNA.  A genetic test will reveal how you will respond to a drug, what suits you and what suits your profile.   This level of accuracy takes away all the pain and frustration of trying many different medications until you find the right one.  Through DNA testing they can custom fit your medication.

Resources and Organisation that can HELP you.

Tim Read facilitates Blur – Blur Support Group is a safe place for people suffering mind health issues, or for anyone who is currently having a hard time. It is a confidential peer led mind health support group that meets fortnightly at a cafe in Warrandyte.  You can find out more by contacting:

Now and Not Yet Cafe 148-150 Yarra St, Warrandyte VIC 3113
(03) 9844 0994

PHAMS:  PHAMS is the Personal Helpers and Mentors Service.  This is a federally funded program which works in an outreach capacity.  They meet with people and look at the issues that they are struggling with and help them to move through them.  They work closely with clinical services.  Its about sitting down with a person and mapping out a plan with them and supplying the services that they need.

PHaMs provides increased opportunities for recovery for people aged 16 years and over whose lives are severely affected by mental illness, by helping them to overcome social isolation and increase their connections to the community.  People are supported through a recovery‑focused and strengths‑based approach that recognises recovery as a personal journey driven by the participant.

White Wreath is a non-denominational, non-profit charitable organisation providing 24-hour, seven days a week help, assistance for those suffering mental trauma or considering suicide.

P: 1300 766 177 or
M: 0410 526 562

You will speak immediately to a human voice.

You can Text via Mobilie 0410 526 562

You can Emailwhite.wreath@bigpond.com

Headspace:  headspace is the National Youth Mental Health Foundation providing early intervention mental health services to 12-25 year olds, along with assistance in promoting young peoples’ wellbeing. This covers four core areas: mental health, physical health, work and study support and alcohol and other drug services.   You can access headspace HERE.

Beyond Blue:   beyondblue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.  You can access beyond blue HERE

 

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: