religious abuse

# Recovery In Real Time: Shit Survivors Say (to Ourselves)

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.

Maybe it's the therapy or maybe it's how we are consistently editing our negative self-talk... but whatever it is, survivors have a litany of mantras for getting through a tough memory, a terrifying event, a family gathering, a triggering moment, or a typical day in the life of PTSD or anxiety.

I was going to list some stories about how this plays out for me, but it reminds me of one of the hashtags from #RecoveryInRealTime (flip over to page 85 if you have your copy handy).


"I know from my experience - The longer I evolve as a Survivor, the clearer my story and my desire to share it manifests in a way that is concise. It isn't that the story is perfect or doesn't require ongoing edits from a wiser or more evolved version of myself. The message morphs but the tone of peace and sanctity of my truth freely and accurately echo through the past. I find hope in the belief that my Survivor voice will get clearer in the future." (Recovery In Real Time: A Trauma Survivor's Anti-Workbook"

It is still a miracle that I add a day to my invisible "I survived" chart every single morning. Every single day is one more day that I show them all that they cannot break me completely and that I am in fact, a survivor... and every single day, my voice gets clearer. 

I see this in many survivor networks. This week I made time to connect with advocates on Twitter who lead a #SexAbuseChat every Tuesday night. As I followed, liked, retweeted and engaged, I noticed how many resilient mantras survivors create for ourselves!

I'm sure many of those Twitter advocates (who are slowly becoming online friends), have probably blogged about positive self-talk so after I get a few links I'll list them here, but for now, I just want to offer a simple list of Shit Survivors Say (to Ourselves). And I don't mean BAD shit... I mean, shit that shows we are doing the work, making sure we are taking steps forward, and being our badass-selves in recovery:

When exhausted from expectations, we say, "I'm really doing enough and need to calm the fuck down."

When faced with a tense, high-energy, complicated event, we say, "This situation I'm in right now will never be as bad as (fill in the blank of trauma)."

When recovering from another disappointing friendship, we say, "I will not let that asshole determine my capacity to trust."

When facing a flashback or anniversary of a trauma, we say, "Don't make me explain myself to you when I'm tired."

When looking in the mirror after a nightmare, we say, "Today is (insert date) and this is a day you can handle."

When deciding whether to post our public thoughts/feelings about the trauma, we say, "In the end, my voice is my voice and I will not be censored to keep others comfortable."

It isn't always eloquent, but it is direct self-talk that combines grace and tenacity.

It isn't always easy to describe, but the shit we say to ourselves, the good quality shit that keeps us from the edge of a knife or the bottom of a bottle is the shit that proves #SurvivorVoicesAreClear. We are all getting clearer every single day that I choose to live as a survivor.

Stay tuned for updates as I network with the advocates who are NOT seasonal, such as myself...

One more post to follow here at Publishing for a Change, LLC.

Thank you, to my brave readers... keep sharing. I’m here with you... a little while longer... #RecoveryInRealTime happens today.


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# Recovery In Real Time: When God's Silence is Holy

# Recovery In Real Time: When God's Silence is Holy

For me, the religious umbrella over my life hindered the light of recovery.

It kept away the healing rain of diversity.

It kept out the light that would warm my lonely skin.

It kept my face hidden from the world around me.

For others, a religious umbrella over their lives has the opposite result.

It insulates their sense of safety.

It protects them from their greatest fears.

It provides shelter from the elements that do not align with their beliefs.

I understand because for the longest time, that was how I felt underneath religious oppression - I believed it kept me "safe," when in truth...

The emotional abuse that went on, underneath that umbrella led to the deterioration of my mental health, sexual health, and ultimately, spiritual health.

# Recovery In Real Time: They Knew Better

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.

As some readers know, #RecoveryInRealTime is comprised of 125 hashtags presented in a 5-stage grief cycle. Why? Because trauma recovery is basically a lifetime of grief – we grieve our innocence and our lives before trauma, in iterations that can surprise us even years removed from the experiences. Denial is common, Anger is needed, Bargaining is natural, Depression is devastating and Acceptance happens… this is all part of the recovery journey.

But let's keep talking about anger a bit…

How often do we allow ourselves the permission to come back to the concept and truly appreciate what anger offers us as survivors?

I keep thinking about how this book is useful to survivors from many different trauma exposures. I have heard from combat survivors, sexual assault survivors, incest survivors, and even from those who experience vicarious trauma.

While I am empowered to know that the book is finding an audience, I do ask myself about hashtag #29 as the process continues… #TheyKnewBetter.

As the book reminds us, there is a culture and community of violence and cruelty that often promotes trauma and if nothing else, it stays silent in the face of survivors. I am glad it's finding an audience, but damn... there are so many trauma survivors and the culture of abuse continues unchecked.

I remember plainly the day I heard the current US President’s words: “Grab ‘em by the pussy,” he said. As a survivor of sexual assault and one who had grown stronger because of the efforts of former Vice President Biden, I still cannot stomach it.

To have a national leader suggest that women’s bodies were there for the grabbing…

To suggest that it was all just a joke…

To suggest that women or survivors were being hypersensitive.

Our anger still makes sense.

Anger is the most reasonable response from any woman or anyone who loves their mother, daughter, wife, grandmother, aunt… sister.

If we do not channel that anger, by understanding its depths, then we are all made victims again, at every turn. THEY did know better… our abusers, of course, but also the people and government officials who make up the culture of silence and flippancy that continues to shame us from being fully angry and fully present with the injustices that affect us all!

I don’t know how long I will feel angry – sometimes it is for an hour and sometimes it is for a month or longer. I find acceptance along the way and I know many survivors who find the balance of expressing their necessary anger and then practicing self-care.

Maybe I’ll stay angry until there is justice for trauma survivors and we are treated like more than one passing hashtag… 125 hashtags will do for now, but maybe #ItsOnUs to go deeper into the survivor process and make sure we aren't just heard, but also understood. 

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

#Recovery In Real Time: Triggers Are Everywhere

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.

#RecoveryInRealTime was born out of multiple traumas and sparked to life by the untimely death of a friend… but what do I know about trauma? Like literally… who am I to write a book about trauma?

I could discuss my awareness of human behavior and the relevant pieces of academic knowledge that I’ve acquired over my college and graduate school life, but that’s not why I wrote the book – I didn’t write it directly for professors, therapists, and social workers who TALK about trauma... 

I wrote it for us - Trauma survivors and our loved ones – who get up every day and because of our commitment to healing, we get our shit together and get through a day without giving up.

We put labels on the hard days - maybe we call it PTSD, technically, but it’s also called “Being a Survivor.” It’s not that we are destined to have lifelong triggers, but this book was designed to give us all a break when it comes to diagnoses and treatments. We need those too, but we also need real talk.

We need a break.

We need a companion.

We need recovery in real time.

There’s no forgetting our traumas and no matter what we do to desensitize ourselves too it, life will find a way to re-sensitize us to it.

So there are 125 hashtags in this book, yet I’m starting this blog series with Hashtag #83. Why?

Why start in the middle… with #TriggersAreEverywhere?

Because that is the way recovery in real time works... we don't start at the beginning of a grief cycle and we don't start neatly at page one of any workbook.

We start when we are triggered.

And the triggers? They are everywhere! 

I know because as a survivor of multiple traumas, there's no escaping my triggers. 

And every time I was triggered, I would hear the same message: 

My sensitivity to triggers implied that something wasn’t whole or healed.

What kind of unrealistic expectation is that?

I’m supposed to be so perfectly removed from the fact that my primary caregiver was emotionally abusive… so if someone I trust takes advantage of me, it doesn’t affect me?

I'm supposed to be so perfectly removed from the memories of being touched by my older neighbor for 5 years… so if I see a Facebook thread about sexual assault, it doesn’t affect me?

I’m supposed to be so perfectly removed from the fact that I watched a man die in a suicide… so if there’s a loved one struggling with depression, it doesn’t affect me? 

Am I to be perfectly removed from my own life and experiences?

Is that how we define healing?

I wrote this book because the answer to our healing isn't to be desensitized but to be recognized... 125 times, 125 different ways, for as many cycles as it takes to know how brave we really are for recovering at all! (125 at least!)

With 125 different hashtags, you can carry a book that exists as a mirror - a book that says, "I see you healing," rather than a workbook that says, "Work harder and you will be healed."

Every day you said yes to being alive is a day you have continued your healing.

Every day you knew that #TriggersAreEverywhere, but you kept going, you have continued your healing.

It's not always a hard day... but this is what I know about trauma and why I could write a book about it:

I know how to live with it and keep my shit aptly together so I can be present with the process of recovery.

So, I say… congratulations, survivor.

Congratulations, loved one of a survivor.

Today is another day that despite our reality - #TriggersAreEverywhere - we are making it.

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

#Recovery In Real Time - The Stories Behind the Hashtags

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.


"Did I really write a book about trauma?"

I've asked myself this for almost a year. Releasing #RecoveryInRealTime was one of the bravest things I've ever done, but failing to put a marketing plan behind it until now was not simply out of lack of resources. It costs a lot to let people know you created something...

But the resources I needed weren't financial or creative.

This was purely a lack of emotional and psychological resources - if you're going to publish a resource for survivor of trauma, you must make sure you are ready for the attention that comes with it.

I was not ready to tell more of my story. After participating in the Our America segment in 2013 for survivors of conversion therapy, I thought I would never do another interview about that trauma. After participating in some advocacy work for conversion therapy survivors in January 2014, I did a few interviews and testified in the Virginia Assembly and once again, walked away from the attention that comes with being a survivor.

Why have I continued to have a false start every time I decide to participate in an open conversation about being a survivor?

Even after publishing #RecoveryInRealTime, I stepped back from interviews or public discussions about the book.

I hoped that the book itself would break silence...

I hoped that it would quietly catch fire and I could know I was helping survivors without actually speaking more about my experiences. 

I hoped that I wouldn't need to put myself out there directly...

But that's not how activism works. 

I need to talk about what it's like to grow up with an addict.

I need to talk about what it's like to grow up with a neighbor who can't keep his hands off of you.

I need to talk about what it's like to have trusted pastors, youth ministers, and teachers preying upon your innocence in the name of god.

I need to talk about what it's like to be trapped in a young man's car, terrified of what he might do to you next.

I need to talk about what it's like to stand at a burning car as a man dies from his own decision to end his chances of hope.

I can't hide the stories behind the skills that the book represents.

I'm ready. 

It has taken me almost a year since publishing the book, but I'm ready...

To explain why I'm an expert when it comes to surviving trauma.

So get your print or e-book copy of #RecoveryInRealTime and be prepared to follow along as I post some specifics behind each of the hashtags. 

It's going to be an intense process...

But I'm ready. 

And so are you!