Poem #119 – Abused children’s lullaby

Hey there little sleepy girl!
Tonight daddy didn’t fall asleep on the curb.
He is home, punching mom, breaking stuff, cursing hard.
Be a good girl as mommy said and hide under
the bed, hope you won’t end up dead.

Hey there little sleepy boy!
One day you will grow so strong. So strong you will
defend them all, like a superhero punch daddy through the wall.
Be a good boy as mommy said and pray daddy won’t
fall asleep with a burning cigarette in his hand.

Hey there little sleepy kids!
Your window is on the second floor, easy to jump, maybe
break one bone. You’ve already done it twice, what’s some more?
Now close your eyes like mommy said, tomorrow is a brand new
day for you to listen mommy explain how again she fell down the stairs.

Dealing with trauma flashbacks

Certain smells, spaces, situations or people tend to bring up bad feelings we thought we had forgotten about. Most people who went through abuse deal with this problem on the regular basis especially if they just left the toxic relationship or moved away from the abusive parent who left them with a serious trauma.

These bad feelings and flashback can manifest in different ways. Some of the ones I experienced myself are running out of air, losing my touch with reality, feeling like I can’t move, paralyzing shivers up and down my spine, excessive sweating, stuttering etc. One of the worse things I still deal with are my nightmares that happen on a regular basis. The problem with these flashbacks isn’t only that they make you live through your pain again but they can put you in serious danger. If you are in a situation where you could get hurt but your mind has a flashback and paralyzes your body you are in an even bigger danger because you can’t defend yourself.

In my 22 years of life I have been abused physically for roughly eleven years but the psychological abuse continued despite my father not being around because my mind was still trapped and going over everything I experienced as a child. I learned to control it a little bit but there are still certain triggers that give me flashbacks. Some of them are being in the presence of a man who reeks of alcohol, someone putting their hands near my throat…

With time I started to use my breathing to cope with these flashbacks and to calm myself when I wake up from a nightmare. Whenever we get agitated our breathing changes, so in order to ease your mind you need to get back to your normal breathing pattern. Try to even out your inhales and your exhales. Breathe in for 3 second and breathe out for three seconds. It’s that simple and it helps you center your mind. You just need to focus on your breath, on the sensation of air entering and exiting your body. As soon as you get your inhales and exhales evened out you will notice a slight release in your body. Your muscles will get relaxed, your mind will get clear and that pressure on your chest will slowly fade away.

This isn’t something you can accomplish perfectly in one take. It took me years of even reminding myself to breathe when I start having flashbacks and panicking. The other thing that helps a lot is meditation. I think it isn’t even necessary to state all the positive sides of mediation because you already know most of them.

When you get flashback and feel paralyzed, you have the feeling like the abuser is still controlling you. He or she is not doing it, you mind is! You need to become aware of the power your mind has over you and you need to develop techniques to calm it down and to rise above what your mind tells your body to feel.

Remember: Transform pain into strength and you will be invincible.

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Should I forgive my abuser?

Today I decided to do one of my longer posts in which I share my opinions on the subject of abuse, especially domestic abuse. I’ve written about it in some of my posts and I shared pieces of my domestic abuse story on this blog. One of my goals in life is actually to find a way to help abused women and children and to also open people’s eyes about what is abuse and how to fight it properly.

It’s always hard for me to write about this subject because I’m still on my journey of dealing with my past and my experience with domestic abuse so I don’t post that often about it. For those of you who are new to this blog or maybe haven’t read my posts about it, just to sum up – I was abused by my father. He got mentally ill during the war, got PTSD, became an alcoholic and suffered from an identity disorder. The abuse went on for roughly eleven years and he ended up in jail and is currently in a facility where he is being taken care of.

Now that you all are up to speed, let’s get on with today’s subject – Should you forgive your abuser? The answer to this is yes. You should forgive everyone who has done you harm but this situation is particularly difficult because abuse leaves a lot of scars on our soul and our body. I, myself, suffer from nightmares related to the years of abuse despite being already 22 years old and despite not seeing my father for years. An experience such as this one just has a tendency to stick with us forever and, even though you might not see it, this is not a bad thing.

The reason why it’s hard to forgive our abusers is because they rarely say they are sorry. Most of them are oblivious of their actions and consequences of their actions and believe they haven’t done anything wrong so it’s hard to think about forgiveness when you haven’t even heard the word “Sorry” coming out of their mouths. The reason why you need to forgive them is your inner peace. That’s the goal of coping with abuse. You need to find the strength to forgive someone who might not even be sorry just for the sake of preserving and healing your soul and mind.

I will write on my own example. To this day I still have many bad feelings relating to my father but I found a way to be already halfway done with forgiving him for everything he has done. I used to say to myself that he is ill and that deep down he does feel sorry about his actions, but it was hard for me to believe it when I would get flashbacks of him beating up my mother or me escaping through the window of my house because he threatened to kill me. As time passed by I realized that I have to be the bigger person or I will never be able to escape my past. Every now and then I pray for him. That’s right, I pray for the man, for my own father who abused me just because I have grown enough to realize that he doesn’t perceive reality in a way that I do. I also realized that he probably denies everything he has done because it’s a defense mechanism. On some level his mind is blocking the horrible acts he has committed to protect him from facing himself. I began to forgive him so that I could find peace and put my past to rest. On some strange level I found some positive sides to what he has put me through. I don’t want you to think I’m weird for doing it, I promise I will explain everything in a different post.

By wishing the best for him, hoping that the universe will give him the strength to face himself one day and see all of the things he has done wrong I began to discover serenity. You need to rise above the situation in order to move on and you can’t do that without forgiving the person that abused you. If you forgive them, you will first benefit yourself and after the hell you’ve been through you deserve it.

Holding on to abuse and hating the person that did it to you can only lead to further problems in your life. You could develop serious trust issues or become unable to establish a healthy love relationship with someone (I know I have my troubles with this). Step back, take your time and discover within you what it is that you need to do in order to forgive your abuser. Don’t think about him or her, don’t think about anyone else except yourself. This is actually where one of my favorite quotes applies: First, put your own oxygen mask. This sentence just resonates on so many different levels, despite it being a warning on a safety video on planes. Give yourself air, fix yourself, heal yourself and without noticing it you will forgive the person that did you wrong and it will be the most liberating experience of your life.

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Fear of death

In some of my previous posts such as The story behind the name Luna and You are a survivor I shared a little piece of my domestic abuse story. Long, very long, story short – my father was an alcoholic with a mental disorder and he abused my mother, me and my sister. The abuse lasted for about 11 years in my case. I was a little baby when his condition got really bad and I just started growing up and coming to terms with the situation I was living in but I was never settled with it.

Lately I have been having some sort of writer’s block and I have also a lot of doubts about my life and career choices. I just have a feeling that enrolling to this university was a mistake, I started to have the feeling I wasted three years of my life doing something that will get me nowhere, I failed my final exam… It has just been an emotional and mental roller coaster for me lately and it got me to thinking about the person I was and the person I’ve become.

The 7 years old, abused Ana (my real name is Ana not Luna) would power through a situation like this. The seven years old me would find a way out and do whatever it takes to make herself happy. The 22 years old Ana is depressed and eating her feelings after which she pours some red wine on them. This has been going on for some time and I think I finally found the reason why I used to be more determined and why I used to find my way out of any situation while today I just get desperate.

I was so scared of death – that was the thing that pushed me further. My father would make death threats all the time, hell he even tried to kill all three of us on multiple occasions. I was afraid for my life and it made me do incredible things which I am not capable of doing now. Ever since my father exited my life, that fear has become very small and the engine that powered me through my whole life just shut down. That fear is not constantly present but it should be because despite not being abused by my father I could still die any day.

I know this all sounds a bit morbid and I’m not trying to freak you out. I am trying to tell you that you need to get in touch with your mortality in order to live your life to the fullest, to reach your potential and get rid of any other fear you have. I will give a really dumb example now. As a little girl I always wanted to play the guitar and sing. I didn’t do those things because my family was so poor we couldn’t afford to put me through music school. I still decided I would like to try and sing. I entered some choirs and I was constantly told that I can’t sing high notes and that I am really not a good singer. That didn’t stop me from entering a small singing contest. I still have the diploma from that contest and I’m proud of it because I didn’t care about what people said, I gave it a shot and to be honest I had so much fun and it’s such a great memory for me. In those times my fear of death was very present because my father was still a part of my life. If that story was going on today, while that fear is gone, I would have never entered the contest and I would probably leave the choir where they told me I don’t know how to sing. I wouldn’t even give it a shot because I am so worried about what people say about me that I don’t let myself be happy. If I die today do you know how many people will care for the fact that I entered a singing contest despite my lousy singing skills? The answer is zero. But it made me happy at the time and it still makes me happy that I had the courage to do it.

This is why I believe everyone should get in touch with their mortality because it will force you to do amazing things. It will stop you from wasting your life away, not fulfilling your dreams and stressing about other people’s opinions. Just give it a shot. Write out on a piece of paper the things you always wanted to do, but never did and do them now that you are aware of the fact that you could be dead tomorrow. The fear of death can make you live your life to the fullest and it can also force you to save your own life and protect it if you are going through abuse as I did.

If you are currently being abused that fear will get you out of it. That fear is your escape from the miserable life you must lead stuck in the hell of domestic abuse. I know it did wonders for my mum. She fought like crazy to keep herself and me and my sister alive and she fought a though legal battle to make sure our father won’t be able to harm us. I know how hard it is to fear for your life, thinking that you have no way out and it is even harder for mothers with children but you have to do it. You have the responsibility to protect your own life and your children’s life. It’s very hard for me to actually tell you to pack your bags and leave because I know it’s not that simple. Most abused women rarely have a place to go to and they are also under the threat that they will be killed if they try to escape or speak up. This is why you need to use your fear, your situation and find a way out. If all the doors are closed, break them down. Find out if there are shelters that take in abused women. Try to seek help from your family. Girl, use the power of the almighty internet to do research on the laws protecting abused women in your country. Also, I can’t stress this out enough, have solid proof of the abuse. Put your phone somewhere and tape everything that’s going on, make sure you have a witness, just have a solid ground to stand on if you will be fighting your abuser in court or if the police gets involved. This is overwhelming to even think about and I know you will maybe just pass through this article without giving it a second thought but I just want to let you know that all of this is coming from someone who, due to domestic abuse, survived an attempt on her life before she was 12 years old, jumped through a window to save her life, saw her mother in bruises all the time and with the help of her sister stopped her own father from killing their mother. I know what I’m talking about. All of this could happen to you or to your child. Save yourself, do something while you still have a heartbeat.

I know it sounds scary but do you know what’s even more scary? Losing your life due to someone thinking they have the right to beat it out of you.

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You are a survivor

In my post “The story behind the name Luna” I shared a part of my story about domestic abuse. It actually gave me courage to dive deeper into this problem and open up about it here because I think this is a great community to share such stories and help each other. It took me years to speak about the torment my father put me through and I can relate to many children who were abused and today I want to write a little bit about how to deal with abuse after it’s done.

When I was 11,12 years old the problem with my father started solving and it wasn’t over until a few months ago. I haven’t lived with him for years and I last saw him and spoke to him about 5 years ago. That chapter of my life is over now but it still takes me a great amount of strength to close that chapter in my head. My problem was that I identified myself with what he has done to me and I believe that’s the problem of many abused children out there. We develop a bad opinion about ourselves based on what the person who abused us had done to us. We often feel like we aren’t worthy of anything, become introverted, depressed, scared to live the lives we deserve and we can’t step out of our pasts. Going through abuse leaves a strong scar on the one’s personality, sometimes even on our bodies and I will be quite honest and say it’s impossible to hide that scar or erase it so wear it proudly!

Don’t be ashamed of yourself and of who you are and of what you’ve been through. Instead of waking up every morning feeling like you are worth less than others, feeling like you will never reach happiness, wake up and say to yourself “I’ve been through hell and I survived that. World, bring it on because I can handle you!”. Don’t call yourself an abuse victim but rather call yourself a survivor because that’s what you are. Your body and mind were strong enough to handle the weight of abuse and I know how heavy that weight is and you are still here. You are biting and scratching your way through life. You know how to handle difficult situations and your power can never be drained out. Even when depression hits and you feel worn out just repeat those words to yourself.

Who you are depends only on what you want to be so be a survivor, be a warrior and show the world there’s happiness after abuse. Learn how to show your scars to the world and demand respect for them and respect your own past because if it wasn’t for it you wouldn’t be the strong person you are. Even if you feel weak, trust me you’re not. Shift your state of mind and you will turn your life around. Remember: You are a warrior, you are a survivor.

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