Climbing Out of The Darkness

 Delicate as a Butterfly

Even though you may no longer be in an abusive situation, the emotional scars can linger for years. Learn how to shed the negative programming and start healing.

Letting go of the victim mentality can be difficult to shed.  For many people, the emotional abuse they’ve endured has stripped away their self esteem and left emotional scars that linger for years.  It’s not uncommon for victims to feel responsible or even feel that they deserved the abuse they received.

It’s this type of thinking that allows the negative thoughts to keep their hold on the victim.  Learning to face the past so that they can move forward in a more positive direction is key.  The victim needs to understand that what happened is not their fault and that no one deserves to be treated badly.

Look at the situation from a different perspective.  Would you allow your best friend to be treated in such a manner or to blame themselves?  Of course not.  You’d try to show them that, like you, they are a person of value and should be treated as such.


Climbing Out of the Darkness

You may not be able to control the thoughts or actions of those around you, but you can control how you respond.  Declare to yourself that you are a survivor and then lift yourself to that higher level.  No one can keep you down unless you allow them to.

It takes a conscious effort to decide to stop wearing the label of victim, but somewhere inside is a happy, functioning, vibrant person just waiting to break free.  It just takes some direction and perseverence.

Follow these tips to start rebuilding your self-esteem and get on the road to recovery:

  1. Talk to a counselor or support group
  2. Avoid negative people and situations
  3. Stop dwelling on the past and look toward the future.  Set goals for yourself
  4. When you find yourself focusing on negative thoughts, remind yourself of your positives
  5. Make new, positive friends
  6. Join a group activity and become involved in it
  7. Indulge in humor
  8. Learn to accept compliments
  9. Read a book on building self-esteem and follow the examples
  10. Don’t allow yourself to be labeled

Healing emotional wounds takes time.  Each person must progress at their own speed. Keep reminding yourself that other people have made it through and became better people for it.  Focus on your positives and leave the negative thought patterns behind.

By letting go of the past programming and becoming a survivor, you are taking control of your own life.  Learn to have faith in yourself and your strengths.  As long as you continue to focus on rising above, you will achieve your goal.


Just A Dog? You Decide

For whomever believes in God, you must also believe that those who save the loving creatures we call dogs from shelters are doing His work.  After all, we were taught, most of us, that God loves us and wants us to love our neighbor and other living creatures.  St. John wrote in the Bible of God saying, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Well now, are dogs not our best friends?  I should think so.  They have often been known to lay down their lives to protect us.  Dogs teach us the greatest lesson of unconditional love.  Unless they’ve been trained otherwise and suffered abuse in some way, dogs are the most loyal and loving creatures on earth.  I’ve even been fortunate enough to have my girls (a/k/a dogs) know their healing powers.  Nine months after the tragic death of my late husband by suicide, I rescued two dogs from a No Kill Sanctuary.  Their soulful eyes empathize when we are in pain; their playful antics lift our spirits when nothing else can, and their fierce loyalty provides the safety, security and dependability that no human can.

Dogs teach us unconditional love in a myriad of ways.  They even teach us to love ourselves again unconditionally when our four-legged friends bounce back to self-love even after being scolded for misbehaving.  They don’t carry shame and embarrassment for chasing the cat, chewing a favorite shoe or pooping in the neighbor’s yard.

And dogs don’t hold grudges when we arrive home late and offer their dinner even later, or miss a scheduled walk.  They run up to us with wagging tails, nudging us playfully for affection and give those puppy dog stares so lovingly.  No need for forgiveness there as they haven’t judged us in the first place.  And they certainly don’t care that we as humans come with our specific flaws.  They forgive us.

They serve to teach us again what we learned as children, that being the importance of amusement, fun and play.  And they taught me specifically how to forget my anger, feelings of guilt and despair.

Scientists have discovered that animals have healing powers.  When you stroke a cat or pet a dog, you experience a surge of healing hormones and chemicals that produce feelings of peace and serenity.  [Edward T. Creagan, M.D. – a Mayo Clinic oncologist.]

In a feature article on WebMD, Jeanie Lerche Davis writes that playing with a pet may elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, lower cholesterol levels and increase immune function.

It has also been found that just petting and stroking an animal can help lower blood pressure and calm the heart rate.  This is because simply petting a dog, you can lower the stress and worries of the world.  And all that dog wants in return is love.

   A short while ago, I had a bad night for some reason.  Often my tears just begin on their own and I’ve no way of stopping those waterworks.  My little baby as I call her, Casey, is deaf so she could not hear me and had been fast asleep at my feet as were my other two girls.  She rose up suddenly, I imagine sensing my drastic mood change, and stared into my eyes for the longest time and watched those tears stream down my cheeks.  Then she brought her face close to mine and began softly licking the tears.  So softly she did this as though she were dabbing with a tissue.  And she didn’t stop until I was able to stop my crying.  As abruptly as she stopped, she stared at me again for a while and then brought her face up against mine.  She knew just how I was feeling and wanted me to know, it was going to be okay.  And she was right.

Words cannot express the love, peace and joy that my three girls have brought to my life.  In losing my husband tragically, I was given precious blessings in the form of three little white dogs who have been instrumental in decreasing my depression and PTSD.

If you’re suffering from depression or PTSD or other emotional problem, I urge you to give it a try.  Granted it’s an important responsibility and I suggest beginning with one dog.  (I have three dogs for reasons I’ll explain another time.)  You get love, affection, companionship, as well as a sense of worth and purpose, all wrapped up in a sweet furry little package.  What more could you ask for?

Do You Believe In Yourself?


Recently, I saw on TV that Oprah Winfrey did Tony Robbins’ Firewalk.  It reminded me that 12+ years ago, so did I.  A lot has happened since that day – and suddenly I began thinking this was partly the reason for people telling me how strong I am under serious conditions.

Firewalking is the act of walking barefoot over a bed of hot embers or stones.  To walk over fire – what a thought!  My friend Polly B. invited me and another friend, Cathy W., to the Tony Robbins UPW (Unleash the Power Within) event where the Firewalk is offered.   Firewalk:  very scary thing to do one thinks in the comfort of your living room, safe at home.  But I was intrigued and vastly curious.  So I attended, thinking I’d watch others do their Firewalk.  I considered the experience in those terms and I was fine with that.

When it came to the point in the seminar where Tony walked us over and showed us how they prepare by setting the fire and waiting until it burns down to red-hot embers, it only served to re-emphasize the scariness.  Could people really train their minds to do it?

What is the point of doing a Firewalk anyway?  The idea is that rather than just get a ton of theory in any book or DVD, you have to experience the challenge of facing something you believe you cannot do – something IMPOSSIBLE for you to do, and then face up to it and just go ahead and DO it.  It teaches you to face your greatest fears, and all the other challenges in your life become easy by comparison!

Suddenly I felt like the only one insistent upon not doing the Firewalk.   Now it was time and we ALL walked over to the site of those now red-hot embers and began to walk.  We’d been told how to prepare, what to do and what to think.  We had rehearsed mentally over and over again until it was memorized.



My friend Cathy walked first and completed the Firewalk with passion!  When it was my turn the “coach” asked me if I wanted to do this.  I said, “I’m not sure,” and began to tear up.  I was petrified and yet felt something inside urging me to go ahead!  The program coach reminded me what we had memorized.  Told me that I could do this and it convinced me that I at least had to try.  And I did.  And the additional joy came as my friend, Polly B., was the one catching me at the end!

The take-away from this Firewalk provides life transforming tools to help push you through obstacles, achieve your goals, take consistent action on your ideas, and ultimately redefine and improve the quality of your entire life.

A heart-breaking tragedy in my life recently from the suicide of my husband made me aware that my life will never be the same again.  The Firewalk also made me realize that I would never, ever be the same again!  I just forgot about it for all these years.  Oprah’s Firewalk reminded me that “I can live through this” and live my life with love and happiness, and achieve goals I also had forgotten.  Or maybe, realign my goals to match my present day needs.  I have the power within and I know how to use it to live my life with more passion, happiness and fulfillment than ever before!   And I won’t settle for anything less.


We Are Family – My Dogs and Me!


Dogs invite us into their world, and through that, our lives are deeply enriched.  My two beautiful white boxers, Miley and Casey, have brought me such happiness, love and calm after a terrible tragedy befell me.  They are a God-send.  I post this in order to celebrate our love and devotion for dogs, which in turn is reciprocated many times over by their love and devotion for us.

There is so much we can truly learn from dogs.  They teach us how to go with the flow of life.  And they are the kindest, most caring and devoted animals known to humankind. 
Dogs have become a part of our family and a part of our personal history. They live in the house with us; they sit and sleep together with us. They have brought something unique and fulfilling to our lives. They have loved us unconditionally and have taught us important lessons for better living — how to embrace life, how to enjoy the moment, how to let go when it’s time to let go, even when it seems way too soon.

While we struggle to figure out why we were put here on Earth, all a dog wants is to love and be loved — a powerful lesson for us all.



Furry Shrink

I’d double her life if I could —
we share a history.
When friends turn false, my dog stays true,
her head upon my knee.

She can erase my loneliness —
my pain melts in her eyes.
My dog lies close — she understands
what I cannot disguise.


I came across a couple of poems written about our love for dogs.

I think you’ll agree with their sentiments below.


 The Greeting

I open the door.
You are already
bounding to the door
with a wagging tail,
flashing teeth,
and four prancing paws.
Your healing power dissolves
the most difficult day
from memory.
A cold nose
and warm kisses
trigger a child’s laughter
from my heart.
I am a better human
for having you
in my life.

— Joan Noëldechen




Puppy Days

Bless this frisky puppy
Who’s into everything
His playful fresh behavior
Is like a day in spring

Remind me to be patient
When he’s chewed another book
Or races through the living room
With a newly laundered sock

He loves without condition
Gives me kisses every day
And greets me with a wagging tail
After I have been away

Like any other baby
He needs a lot of rest
When he falls asleep curled next to me
I know that I am blessed

— Louise Webster





If I greeted everyone happily
Instead of eyeing with distrust
If I didn’t pass judgment
But accepted all
If I listened intently
With understanding in my eyes
If I brought comfort
All the time, no matter what
If I loved unconditionally
Without reservation
If I lived life more simply
Instead of worrying so much
If I played tirelessly
And didn’t work so hard
If I made people smile
Just by my presence in the room
If I experienced true joy
At the little things in life
Then I’d be the perfect friend
Just like my dog. 



How Do We Heal a Heart And Life Lessons


It is one of those evenings when sleep eludes me and yet I feel a need to create.  Usually this occurs in writing.  And although the hour is late, from a gathering of thoughts I am posting in the hopes that I will reach someone out there who will be touched and will understand. 

When we are affected by a serious loss, be it a loved one’s death, loss of a job, financial conflicts, an accident creating loss of limb or mental capacity, there is always a life lesson to learn. 

Both love and loss gift us with extraordinary life lessons.  Some of these are elegant; some shatter us and bring us to our knees in devastation.  They’re all necessary to open our hearts to wisdom and faith.  Often we are stronger than we think!  I know this firsthand as a survivor of suicide – my husband completed suicide May 4, 2010 and I have healed so much, yet there is still further to go.  And suicide is something you never ever get over completely.  You merely learn to live through it. 

And I believe in the words of Winston Churchill who said, “If you think you’re going through Hell, keep on going!”


We all know that hearts are healed in time, but I believe that there are things we can do to make the process of inner healing just a little more tolerable.

It helps to remember that the pain is in the resistance.  It really is true that what we resist persists; I know that I have.  For the first six months after my husband’s death, I didn’t live; I merely went through life as a dying soul .  The more we fight reality, that which we cannot change, the more pain we experience.  The more we surrender and let go, the more we open ourselves to the natural flow of life so that the power of love can transport us to a new space of peace and acceptance.

I love the healing words of Achaan Chaa, who reminds us:

Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind. To be happy, rest like a great tree in the midst of them all.