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.

Survivor Support Group & Living With Suicide


 One learns to live with the loss, the tragedy, the waste and the gaping hole in the fabric of one’s life.  There is no closure; there cannot be without answers.  I want to remember him all my life, vividly:  his laughter, the smell of his favorite coffee, his moments of joy, his humility and his integrity.”


If you have lost someone to suicide, the first thing you should know is that you’re not alone.  Each year over 30,000 people in the United States die by suicide – their devastated family and friends they leave behind are known as “survivors.”  There are millions of survivors who, like us, are trying to cope with this heartbreaking loss. 

It can be so powerful to connect with other survivors.  And such a relief to be able to talk openly about the suicide with people who really understand.  I write this for a couple of reasons.  First, it helps me to heal by sharing my own personal grief.  Second, it is my aim to help others understand us and for those survivors of suicide, to begin to focus on themselves to heal and gain support. 

For so many survivors, a crucial part of their healing process is the support and sense of connection they feel through sharing their grief with other survivors.  The most common way this sharing occurs is through survivor support groups.  These groups provide a safe place where survivors can share their experiences and support each other. 

It is natural to feel a bit unsure about going to your first support group meeting.  In No Time to Say Goodbye, one facilitator explains what you can expect:

“We sit in a circle, with each person giving a brief introduction: first name, who was lost, when and how it happened.  I then ask the people who are attending for the first time to begin, because they usually have an urgent need to talk. The rest of the group reaches out to them by describing their own experiences and how they are feeling. The new people realize they are not alone with their nightmare. By comparing their situations with others, they also begin to understand that they don’t have a monopoly on pain.”

Some survivors attend a support group almost immediately, some wait for years; others attend for a year or two and then go only occasionally — on anniversaries, holidays, or particularly difficult days.  You may find it takes a few meetings before you begin to feel comfortable.  Or you may find that the group setting isn’t quite right for you, but can still be a useful way to meet one or two fellow survivors who become new, lifelong friends based on the common bond of understanding the pain and tragedy of suicide loss. 


We are each in charge of our own journey of healing.  May you always be traveling further.”



SOS – Survivors of Suicide


 Attended my first Suicide Survivors meeting. There were nine of us in the support group and two facilitators. The air was replete with an edgy mood but it went well for a first meeting. Mostly because we did not have to tell our stories of tragedy – that comes next week. And participants were genuinely nice to one another. A common bond without yet talking. Next week’s meeting will be heartrending – we each have 10 minutes to tell our loved one’s story, completely.

Did you know that one person completes suicide every 16 minutes? That’s nearly four people an hour in the US alone. My research indicates that while 30,000 complete suicide yearly, 750,000 attempt suicide in the U.S. Staggering figures aren’t they? Suicide can and does happen to anyone, any time, anywhere.

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”

That sums up pretty much how I feel. Time heals all wounds is not necessarily true for survivors of suicide. Time is necessary for healing, but time is not enough. Shared feelings enrich and lead to growth and healing.

Violet, our counselor, is an older lady with a full head of white hair. She is soft-spoken and yet a tough cookie!

One group participant was having a tough time with guilt. We certainly all are aware of the guilt. But she was voicing hers, asking why the policeman couldn’t have helped and why no one seemed to have foreseen the oncoming tragedy. Violet gently kept talking with her until suddenly, in a soft voice, asked this woman to please show Violet her shoes. The puzzled woman stuck out her foot presenting her shoes. “Nice shoes,” says Violet. “Don’t think they are made to walk on water though!” Enough said. I think it’s safe to say we’re all going to love and gain much from Violet.

Violet has her own story – many years ago her mom completed suicide. Violet felt the need for counseling, but  back then there were no grief counselors for suicide. Instead she was sent four different times into therapy with schizophrenics and severely mental patients. Clearly wrong, and clearly not helpful. After attempts at four different groups, she finally said enough. She worked in Corporate America (business). She changed her profession to become a licensed social worker and has many specialties she has achieved, including a licensed Traumatologist. Yep, there’s an actual name for what we’re going through. And she can help with PTSD as well. So I think that where the angels have led me is a good place to be right now – in Violet’s hands in support group.

 Another thing Violet substantiated:  healing is not a three day fix.  It’s not a three month fix, perhaps not a year fix.  She still feels the effects.  In fact, she says, it has been proven that we never get over this trauma.  Instead we learn to live through it.  She says it’s like suffering a wound – imagine the wound we’d be showing now with this suicide in our life.  And we are trying to heal the wound of suicide.  Certainly not a 3 day event, or a 4 1/2 month event.  It’s very understandable to me now in these few words. 

The ache I feel for my late husband’s arms around me pierces like a knife.  His life was too short-lived.  And the questions come hauntingly when a loved one takes their own life, along with the guilt we feel for not having the super-human ability to know what the future was going to hold.   And of course the regret I feel of conversations that might have been the key to helping him.  

Survivors are angry and confused as we struggle in breathing.  Our hearts cry out in anguish and anger in what is labeled such a senseless death.  We have good days and bad days of love and friendship felt deep in our souls.  We’re left with memories and moments to cling to and so many questions of how to let go.