For this, my premiere blog post through CPTSD Foundation, I thought I might take a moment to introduce myself as a clinician, expressive therapist, and writer in that order.

The reality is I eat, sleep, and breathe my job as a Family-Based Therapist at Scranton Counseling Center in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I am pushing every day to establish a center for the therapeutic arts in the Greater Scranton Area, as well as a theatre troupe to create much-needed conversations about race and difference. I also write. I love to paint with words, encourage, and inspire. My current growing edge is to re-prioritize these goals or at least find some equilibrium between the three. This opportunity to share my passion and insight will be just one step in pulling that writer hat off the back of the hat rack.

But first, I thought it most appropriate to share with you the introduction to my first book that I am working towards publishing. It is also entitled “The Missing Peace.” My hope is these words will resonate with you, and we can begin a guided journey together using expressive therapy techniques to process through the pain of our pasts. I pray that you find my words and insight come from a safe, competent, and caring place.

The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed. (Luke 4:18 NKJV)

For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you … and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:1–3 NKJV)

I stand on these two Scriptures because I have been poor in spirit and sought nourishment in the lies of the world. I have been brokenhearted and sought healing in all the proverbial wrong places. I have been held captive by my fears, my anger, and my lack of self-worth. I have been blind to my iniquities, and yes, I have been bruised, sometimes by my own doing. By God’s amazing love and faithfulness, I have been healed and set free.

I’m a Survivor. If you’re reading this, I have a hunch the word “Survivor” resonates with you too.

I’ve survived a childhood rooted in high conflict and fueled by alcohol.

I’ve survived sexual abuse by an older cousin beginning at the age of four. I told my parents of this abuse around the age of eleven, but it was kept quiet not to upset my grandparents. The abuse continued until I was fourteen.

My paternal grandparents disowned me and my brother for being raised Lutheran instead of Catholic. This may not seem to be a big deal to some of you, but it hurt in ways I was not aware of until I was thirty-three years old and full of bitterness.

These three experiences—being raised in a high-conflict home, being sexually abused, and being rejected over something out of my control—continue to impact how I experience the world. These three transgressions paved the path to living with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) and physically re-wired my brain and its responses. They impact my ability to trust others, understand social cues, and navigate romantic interests and sexual advances … any personal interaction, really. Friendships are never easy. Relationships are power plays, with me always in a submissive role, desperate for love and acceptance. Bosses hold my livelihood in their hands, allowing my hyper-vigilance to be on full alert, afraid of being fired, afraid of making a mistake. Constructive criticism makes me cry for days. Depression, fear, and self-doubt have sidetracked dreams and ambitions for years. I can track the decades of my life by the roles I have played, like a chameleon adapting to its surroundings, trying to find the “me” that fits. I can see now “fits” translates to “feels safe and accepted.” Funny how I was always the one who had to change for that to happen. Funny, how I never achieved feeling “safe and accepted.”

The Old English etymology of the word “father” is defined as “one who exercises parental care over another.” From the Latin, “Pater,” father means “head of,” and, certainly, we cannot exclude mothers as the “heads” of their families. Grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles … all adults can be seen as “heads of” their families, without giving any consideration as to whether a parent is male or female, mother or father. I began referring to this epidemic—this generation after generation of youth growing up with no positive role model—as being “Fatherless” back in 2008 when I first dared to examine my own personal wounding. The souls who crossed my path often had that same sense of emptiness screaming to be filled. I termed it the “Daddy Hole.”

Janet Geringer Woititz wrote in her bestselling book of the same name, Adult Children of Alcoholics was originally written with only children of alcoholics in mind. Since its first publication, we have learned that the material discussed applies to other types of dysfunctional families as well.  “If you did not grow up with alcoholism but lived, for example, with other compulsive behaviors such as gambling, drug abuse, or overeating, or experienced chronic illness or profound religious attitudes, or you were adopted, lived in foster care, or other potentially dysfunctional systems, you may find that you identify with the characteristics described here.”1 If you feel you are Motherless, Fatherless, or Parentless and whether you have a Mommy Hole, Daddy Hole, or Parent Hole you most likely grew up lacking the “parental warmth,” “clearly defined limits,” and “respectful treatment” which “lead an individual to value himself.” You have searched for love. You have attempted to numb the pain. You have even become angry, full of rage, and maybe even self-destructive as you have attempted to find “the missing piece,” or is it “the missing peace”?

I see you out there—frozen in your fear of abandonment, judgment, and rejection. I see the pain in your spirit, the scars you struggle to overcome as your stories mirror mine. People who were important to you have hurt you—emotionally, mentally, physically—or simply by their absence. My heart is now burdened with the need to bring healing to you, your hearts, and your families. I believe my life’s purpose—my point of self-actualization, which I will talk more about later—was revealed in the midst of my pain. I desire to help you recognize and identify Complex Trauma’s impact on your relationships with your loved ones and yourself. I hope I can bring you to the knowledge of your True Father. He loves you. He’s waiting for you. He wants to set you free.

“If through a broken heart, God can bring His purposes to pass in the world, then thank Him for breaking your heart.” ~ Oswald Chambers

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