flashbacks

# Recovery In Real Time: Validation vs. Depth

Publishing for a Change, LLC presents Gail Dickert, author of #RecoveryInRealTime as she shares more about the writing process behind her "Anti-workbook" for surviving multiple traumas.

The truth is that I didn't just "write" Recovery In Real Time...

I spoke it into existence.

I literally carried a voice recorder as I walked in circles around a favorite small park and I spoke most of the words in the book into existence. For months, I transcribed them, asked myself if they had value and after sharing them with my wife, recognized that what this project represents is a lifetime of grief and recovery, in a digestible format.

My wife hugged me after she read the first draft of #RecoveryInRealTime and simply said, "I cannot believe what you've been through and how much you've brought to life through this project."

Everything she said to me, everything she did and everything I felt can be summed up in one word: Validation.

No family member, friend, or partner prior had ever heard and seen "all" of what I have been through and held such sacred space for me the way she did that night. 

Survivors, we understand this, don't we?

Our need for validation - it's as if there is a tiny funnel through which validation gets "in" and yet on the other side of our hearts exists a severe wound of insecurity and shame through which validating statements rush out.

It's already been 2 years since I showed my wife the project - now it has been edited, shared, reviewed, and is "out there" for public consumption. 

Yet, I still need validation?

Why do I still hope that various celebs who have influenced my trauma recovery will "like" or re-tweet my posts? Will I really feel "better" if Maria Brink (of In This Moment) knows about the project? Am I going to be saved from my endless shame if Tori Amos knows she's been saving my soul for over 25 years? Will I sense an energetic shift if Alanis aligns with this style of advocacy? Is Mariska Hargitay going to provide me with the sense of security I've been looking for since I was 9 years old?

I'm almost 40 years old!

What is it that I'm seeking?

Here's the truth: I am a survivor of sexual assault, long-term sexual abuse, emotional abuse, domestic violence, religious abuse, and a witness to suicide...

There's not a damn thing ANYONE can do to end my quest for validation!

And that statement has more power than anything else I've written or produced since I started this indie author journey in 2004. 

Trust me when I say this - no matter how many tweets are seen, posts shared, or in this case, books sold, what I need for recovering from trauma isn't validation alone.

I need depth.

I need long walks with old friends, who can remind me that I've always been a sensitive person and there's no shame in that.

I need phone calls and quick texts from my wife, telling me that she loves me and respects every choice I make along my journey.

I need an online community that steps up with positive, honest words when I'm floundering in a sea of negativity.

I need cards and notes from my mom, who can feel my disappointment, fears, and depression in her bones.

I need the risk and rush that comes from taking a chance on a new friend, no matter that I'm scared shitless of rejection. 

I need time alone in nature so I can listen to its wisdom and find a safe way to breathe and face the stillness or chaos of my own presence.

I need...

Depth, if I'm going to recover in real time.

Now, don't get me wrong - validation gets us from one stage to the next. It has immense value. I hope for validation - from peer advocates, from mentors, from celebrities and gurus! I'm going to hope this project is seen and heard around the world of survivor-focused, trauma-informed communities.

But I don't need that to recover.

What I need is depth. 

Validation is welcome, but rather than cross my fingers and hope to become recognized in the future, I cross my heart and hope to live... in the depth of who I am today. 

Trust me, validation helps - it works wonders. Many of you have written to me to tell me that this book has validated your journey in ways no other book has and I know it was worth it because of your feedback! 

being_valid.jpg

We validate one another.

But we won't save each other's lives with our affirmations and validations.

Consider this: My book will not feed you if you're starving in the ocean of your flashbacks, fears, and grief - but it may keep you afloat until help arrives. 

And when help arrives, put the books down, shut down the computers, turn off the music, click off the television...

And be in the depth of the community of people who see you, just as you are.

(And if you haven't formed and found that depth yet, don't let go yet. Help is on the way!)

Brave readers, keep sharing. I’m here with you. #RecoveryInRealTime happens today.

 

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# Recovery In Real Time: Thank you, Flashbacks and Anxiety

Publishing for a Change, LLC presents Gail Dickert, author of #RecoveryInRealTime as shares more about the writing process behind her "Anti-workbook" for surviving multiple traumas.

There are too many untold stories behind the hashtags in #RecoveryInRealTime... but I'll tell this one today, because #MostDoNotUnderstand is one of the hashtags that gives me a great deal of peace.

It gives me a lot of peace about being complicated.

It gives me a lot of peace about being intense.

It gives me a lot of peace about being unlike a lot of other people.

It gives me a lot of peace about being angry.

It gives me a lot of peace about being sad.

Most people DO NOT understand what we have been through as survivors of trauma. Sometimes we meet therapists and friends who sort of "get it," and maybe there are a few movies and books that highlight a part of what we've been through - but I wrote #RecoveryInRealTime because I needed a resource that captures the complexities of lifelong recovery! (Yes, I wrote it for myself - I published it for others.) 

Sometimes we are okay... sometimes we are functional and we have plans that makes sense... sometimes we know how to heal and sometimes we are reliving trauma and we don't even know why!

But most of the time, #MostDoNotUnderstand what it is that we are dealing with... (trigger alert below).

Recently I've been having nightmares about a childhood abuser - almost every night for the last month, he comes into my dreams at the same age he was when he was touching me, luring me in, grooming me, befriending me, manipulating me...

I'm now 39 years old, but when I close my eyes and fall asleep, I'm suddenly 12 years old again, confused about the advances of a brother-figure who is a senior in high school. I am not attracted to him, but I am drawn in... vulnerable... eager to please and full of shame.  I must be a "bad girl" to have "made him" want me this way... I must be an evil girl, because I am not attracted to him... Abuse is not my type, but neither are young men... 

So I go to bed afraid that he will still have an influence over me in my dreams... and he does. Last night he wanted me to go down on him and would not let me leave his living room until I "did what I was supposed to do." In the dream, I argued with him... I fought back for a moment... I refused and told him I wanted to leave. I woke up before I could find out if I "won" last night... 

In my dream, I was brave.

I woke up anxious, terrified to look in the mirror, and unable to move for a few minutes.

But then I remembered it was just a dream... and instead of anxious, I was depressed immediately. Tears filled my eyes. I heard my wife's alarm and it was clear to me - I was on the edge of a flashback and...

In my dream, I was brave.

But in reality...

I did everything he told me to do, everything he manipulated me into doing... for 5 years.

This morning's shower felt like the shower I needed 27 years ago.

Suddenly, I realized I needed to head into work and be 39 years old - a somewhat successful Executive Director, community leader, social change agent, author, foster parent, wife...

Survivor.

And the truth is...

#MostDoNotUnderstand how I can do this.

But survivors understand... how flashbacks and anxiety, in a moment, set us apart, validating that we feel isolated sometimes because we were isolated! We feel different, because we were different... we feel separate, because we were separated... we feel lost in time, because every time they touched us, time was lost... 

Thank you, flashbacks and anxiety - for reminding me that my path is my own. I am a lifelong survivor of multiple traumas against my essence.

If I can handle intrusions from the past, what is it that I cannot handle?

Today, I have great peace knowing #MostDoNotUnderstand because I am also then not obligated to explain myself to most people... 

I am obligated then, only to myself... to keep going... to be here, now - brave NOW, for the young girl whose survival was submission.

Brave readers, keep sharing. I’m here with you. #RecoveryInRealTime happens today.