Monday, November 21, 2011

Priscilla Exposes Herself


You probably found this title and the picture a bit shocking. I know I did. However, I also found writing this particular post extremely difficult because I knew I would have to fully expose Priscilla’s embarrassing defiled psyche in order to make the point of this information meaningful and more helpful to the reader. “Why should we care about what happened to Priscilla?”, you ask. Only because she’s a real-life example of the unfortunate devastation the Five Deadly D’s can inflict on one’s life.

In Priscilla’s case, she emerged from adolescence with a broken spirit due to the fact that her heart had been broken by a continual onslaught of one life-changing disappointment after another. She had been “set up” by an extremely dysfunctional childhood to be easy prey for the Deadly D’s of “dependence” and “defilement” even before reaching puberty.

My next book, Murder on Murder Creek Road which is moving through the publication process as we speak will dramatically flesh out the raw, but real, details of Priscilla’s defilement. Also, the reader will be allowed to watch behind the scenes at how she managed to redefine herself while the mystery of the murderous plot unravels.

In this post we will first examine the dynamics of how Priscilla was set-up in childhood to live many years of her adult life thoroughly bogged down in the swamps of the fifth Deadly D defilement.

In the post following this one we’ll discover how Priscilla finally learned to get “unstuck” by disciplining herself to take each deliberate step to “redefine” herself. Learning to redefine one’s self is actually about learning to set “healthy” boundaries. This process should have been learned in childhood. But, if one’s childhood years were spent in a dysfunctional setting, then the child has effectively learned to become an emotionally unhealthy, boundaryless adult. This condition is definitely NOT a good thing.

We’ve already talked at great length about the “false identity” being the lies you were taught in childhood that became your “truth”. Consequently, the first step of redefining one’s self is to clearly identify the lies in order to redefine our personal truth. We’ll put flesh on this process by using Priscilla’s experiences.

Priscilla was the youngest member of her family-of-origin. She was at the very bottom of the totem pole, meaning she had the least amount of power. Consequently, she was the most “compliant” one in the family. Since she was especially compliant, very eager to please everyone else, she wholeheartedly embraced all the lies she had been told about herself as “unquestionable truth”.

Once she deliberately began the redefining process by carefully examining what she had been led to believe about herself, the following is what she discovered.

She saw herself first and foremost as a very weak person. She believed she would always have to lean on someone more “powerful” than herself in order to merely survive in life.

She saw herself as someone whom other women would always dislike, perhaps even hate. Her childhood served to thoroughly convince her that she would never be able to please another female. Therefore, she would have to attach herself to a man as her only hope to survive life’s challenges.

She saw herself as a being who had absolutely no rights. She believed she had no right to do anything that pleased and/or nourished her personhood. All her energies and efforts had to be directed at pleasing others never herself.

She came to accept that her very existence depended upon her ability to discern what would please the man and then to perform as best she could in that capacity. Also, she felt she had no right to tell a man “no” to anything he desired from her.

Pretty ugly stuff right? Can you see how Priscilla’s “false identity” literally drove her from one destructive relationship after another with men? Her dependence upon a man led to the expected destination of being defiled by these men. Not all addictions are physical like alcohol, drugs, etc. Emotional addictions can be just as destructive to the individual as the physical ones.

This first step of the process, clearly identifying the lies, is so very painful that most people simply won’t do it. Oh, they’ll find some reasonable-sounding excuse to side-step this process. But the truth is, once the individual gets started, the intense pain associated with this crucial first step quickly frightens him or her away.

Look at this quote from Henri Nouwen, author of many books regarding healing of damaged emotions”

“You have been wounded in many ways. The more you open yourself to being healed, the more you will discover how deep your wounds are. You will be tempted to become discouraged because under every wound you will find others. Your search for true healing will be a suffering search. Many tears will need to be shed. But do not be afraid. The simple fact that you are more aware of your wounds shows that you have sufficient strength to face them.” Henri Nouwen

If I could sum up Priscilla’s dysfunctional self-concept in one statement it would be this: She believed she was a pathetic weakling who was completely unworthy of anyone’s approval, let alone love. Her one-word definition of her personhood would be “pathetic”. To this day Priscilla cringes whenever she hears that word on television or in conversation with others. She had been told that she was “pathetic” over and over again by her only sibling. This devastating practice continued well into her adult years until she finally learned to simply walk away whenever the verbal abuse began. She couldn’t stop her sister’s assault, but she didn’t have to stick around to hear it.

The next step of this “healthy” process is to search your memory in order to capture things that non-family members have said about you. Since childhood taught you to see yourself through the eyes of your family-of-origin, it is imperative that you now diligently seek to see yourself through the eyes of friends, people who have come to know you in a different setting.

For instance, when Priscilla was going through one of the most difficult experiences of her adult life, the people closest to her kept commenting about her “inner strength”. Naturally, she felt they were merely trying to encourage her by telling her something that wasn‘t necessarily true. However, at one point, her closest girlfriend stared into her eyes and said, “Priscilla, your sister constantly tells you how weak you are. The truth is, she’s the weak one. You are very strong. Look at all you’ve overcome. It takes genuine strength to do what you’re doing each and every day.”

Another lie Priscilla had always believed about herself was that other women would never accept her. Again, during that same difficult period, there were three special women who tenderly embraced her, nourished her, and helped Priscilla find her way through the frightening emotional tidal wave she had been forced to endure.

These are just two examples of how important it is to the overall healing process that you learn to dispel the lies buried deep within your psyche. Probably the hardest thing Priscilla had to do throughout the entire “suffering-search” process was to fully accept that she was not a pathetic weakling. It had become her “identity”. Trust me it’s never easy to give up your identity. Never!




Next time we’ll begin to explore the ways in which one goes about learning to set healthy boundaries in one’s life. Good boundaries provide a safe haven in which your soul’s inner garden can finally begin to bloom.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Broken Heart/The Five Deadly D's


We’ve all probably heard the expression, “She died of a broken heart?” Recently scientists have discovered that a heart broken by emotional distress can result in a serious heart condition. The world of science has named this condition “cardiomyopathy” or “broken heart syndrome”. The physical stress brought on by the emotions can cause a person to experience the same symptoms as a heart attack. Usually, however, this condition causes no permanent damage to the heart.

Ordinarily, this term refers to an emotional state of feeling extreme sadness, being severely grief-stricken, and experiencing intense loneliness through some act of rejection.

WHAT BREAKS A HEART?

Based on personal experience, as well as the experiences of others closest to me, it is this author’s opinion that "disappoint-ment" is the root cause of what generally breaks a person’s heart.

One expects a romantic relationship to turn into marriage, yet it doesn’t. Or one gets married only to experience a painful divorce. Maybe an individual has suffered the loss of a spouse or child and finds her hopes and dreams for future happiness dashed in an instant. The list of ways we can be disappointed is endless. People will always disappoint you. Heck, life in general disappoints us.

However, I would suggest that the majority of people will never really realize how the first huge “disappointment” they experienced took place when they were little, powerless children. We are born with intrinsic needs that we inherently expect to be met by our parents. But, since our parents probably experienced the same disappointments in their childhoods, they disappoint us in the same way. And the beat goes on without anyone realizing what happened. Unless and until one realizes how his/her heart was broken in childhood and deals with those unresolved issues, this person will pass the dysfunctional baton down to his/her children. In other words, you will break their hearts with the same unrecognized, unintentional disappointments that you experienced. Hurt people hurt people.

WHAT USUALLY HAPPENS TO A PERSON WITH A BROKEN HEART?

Disappointment can lead to “discouragement“. Even though the individual was born with certain talents, he/she may not posses the “courage” to explore their god-given gifts due to the fact that their heart is stuck in disappointment. Discouragement greatly diminishes our confidence. Without the necessary courage and confidence to explore one’s possibilities, one could end up living out his/her life in a state of quiet, perhaps even hidden, “despair”.

Despair is a persistent feeling of hopelessness. When one’s heart has been broken by deep disappointment, the individual usually feels “invalidated” as a person at the same time. Ask anyone who’s been betrayed if he or she felt invalidated by the betrayer’s lack of loyalty. You’ll almost always receive a “Yes” answer. Any form of rejection invalidates the rejected person on some level. Lack of loyalty translates into being “unworthy” to the heart of the betrayed person.

Whenever someone’s heart has been broken by disappointment, which then led the individual to live with discouragement, quickly followed by despair, this person has unknowingly become the poster-child for “dependence“. In order to survive these unseen forces that literally have taken control of his/her psyche, this man or woman will turn to some brand of “dependence” in order to survive. Be it drugs, gambling, sex, shopping, etc., the afflicted person must find their own brand of addiction in which to lean upon as a means of survival.

Like Priscilla, many women find themselves desperately depending upon a man to cure their ills. In her dysfunctional way she thinks if she can just latch on to the right man, she’ll be okay. She foolishly thinks he’ll take responsibility for her well being and do the things she doesn’t have the courage or confidence to do for herself.

Unfortunately, whether your particular choice of addiction has come beautifully gift-wrapped or not, they all lead to the same unsavory destination defilement“.

When a woman has allowed herself to become completely dependent upon a man to validate her personhood, she cannot have any boundaries in that relationship. Meaning there’s nothing she won’t do to get and keep her “fix”. She has come to believe that she cannot survive without a man in her life. (My new book, Murder on Murder Creek Road, reveals a lot about Priscilla’s acquired dependence upon men.)

If you remember nothing else about this post, remember this: Any form of dependence has it’s own “flavor” of defilement. Defilement means being ruined, damaged, destroyed, polluted, abused, or violated. It may come gift-wrapped in a handsome, Prince Charming-type man, but if it’s your “fix”, it will eventually defile you. Any form of addiction will ultimately lead to the same distasteful destination.

About now you might be saying to yourself, “Well, this is certainly depressing. Is there any good news in this post?” The answer is “Yes”. And here it is: If your heart has been shattered by the Five Deadly D’s, you can choose to stop the train, get off and “redefine” yourself! However, it has to be a conscious, deliberate choice of your free-will. By not making a deliberate choice to redefine yourself, you’ve already made a “default-choice” to remain on the run-away train. Please don’t fool yourself into thinking you didn’t have a choice. By not deliberately choosing to change, you’ve chosen to remain stuck! It’s that simple.

How do I redefine myself?”, you ask. As suggested in the above paragraph, one must first decide to be proactive, not reactive. The next time we meet I’ll share with you how Priscilla redefined herself.

Friday, October 14, 2011

MEET A HEALED HELPER!

What is a healed helper? This picture perfectly portrays a beautiful, symbolic rendition of a healed helper. Look carefully at the picture. Do you see that the woman appears to have been captured in a mild whirl-wind? Notice the beautiful roses. It seems the woman is standing in the midst of a rose garden. And, take particular notice of the three butterflies flitting about her in this magical scene.

Let’s take each symbol separately to explain how they all fit together in this mystical garden.

First, the beautiful roses. Priscilla believes that each woman was created by God to represent beauty, while man was created to represent strength. Childhood wounding distorts our beauty, as well as weakening the male, before we can develop into the beautiful, strong creatures we were created to become. Instead of growing into our calling, our life’s purpose, we become “withered” by our dysfunctional childhoods. Therefore, early on we become a “blighted rose”. Healing of those devastating wounds replenishes and restores our beauty and strength.

The butterfly has long symbolized “transformation”. The ugly caterpillar enters the cocoon to eventually emerge as the colorful butterfly. This process is commonly known as metamorphasis. As wounded individuals enter into an emotional healing process for their wounded souls, they will one day emerge as the colorful, fluttering butterfly.

Finally, the whirl-wind typically symbolizes spinning, feeling dizzy and confused, moving through a quick succession of events, or experiencing a difficult time. All these characterizes are involved in the often tumultuous healing process the transformation.

Since this entire mini-series has been presented from Priscilla’s perspective, this final installment shall follow that same format. For this reason, our references to a healed helper will use the third-person pronouns of she, her, etc. Please keep in mind that a healed helper can be male or female. Gender is not what’s important. It’s the experiential knowledge of the individual that really makes the difference when one attempts to reach out with a helping hand to a hurting person.

Before an individual can become a “healed helper” she must first endure the frightening whirl-wind which will probably spin her around in a confused, sometimes dizzy state through each step of the healing process. Eventually, she must necessarily enter the cocoon where the deepest, most difficult part of the overall process takes place. As she struggles to remove herself from the confines of the cocoon, her wings are strengthened by the struggle. Once she is able to split the cocoon’s wall and wiggle herself free, she is ready to emerge as a very different creature. The colorful butterfly is finally freed to fly away, leaving the ugliness of the cocoon behind. As the butterfly takes flight, the previously blighted rose-blossom suddenly rejuvenates and fully opens to reveal its’ restored beauty, as if to smile at the initial flight of the new creation the butterfly.

Although this deep inner healing of childhood wounds is a painful, frightening process, this picture depicts the genuine beauty that can come from the pain. Before we say good-bye to the woman in the picture, let’s examine what it means to be a healed helper.

WHAT IS A HEALED HELPER?
A healed helper is a person who has first taken full responsibility for all her bad choices in her adult life. She has been awakened to the fact that she is in life exactly where she has chosen to be. However, she has made a free-will decision to learn to practice new behavior patterns by consciously making better choices for herself.

She is a person who has deliberately become enlightened as to the powerful effect her childhood experience has had on her adult life. This enlightenment was harvested first by a free-will decision to revisit her childhood, and then to confront all the unresolved issues buried deep within her psyche.

She is a person who has learned to “forgive” and to “let go” of all her excess baggage.

Finally, she is one who uses all the hard-earned enlightenment to redefine herself in a more authentic manner.                                              


WHAT IS SHE NOT?

A healed helper is not someone who “has it all together” and no longer feels challenged in those areas of past wounding. She will continue to struggle in those same areas. However, since she is consciously aware of all the familiar “pit-falls”, she quickly recognizes the “need” to struggle in a given area of her soul. Before the enlightenment, she didn’t see the flashing caution-lights. Consequently, she simply made a free-fall into the dark pit, time and time again. Shown in this light, one can easily see that struggle is actually a good thing. It denotes awareness as well as a willingness to change.



WHAT DOES SHE DO TO HELP OTHERS?

First, a healed helper has learned to discern in others the same destructive tendencies she has struggled with herself. Consequently, she can speak with the afflicted person through a voice of experience.

She offers comfort to the hurting person through a sincere willingness to listen. That old saying, “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care,” is absolutely true. Simply being willing to listen to a person in pain is the best medicine one can administer.

If we possessed the reasoning skills to reach out to one another in love at an early age like these two adorable babies have done we wouldn’t need healed helpers!


WHAT SHOULD SHE NOT DO?

A healed helper should never present herself as an authority on anything. While she can speak with a sense of authority regarding her personal experiences, she must realize that we all react differently to the same stimulus.

She should never judge any individual for his/her personal reaction to their particular situation.

Being ever mindful of our individuality, she should never advise anyone to follow hard and fast rules of behavior.
 


In conclusion, if you remember nothing else from this entire mini-series, please remember this one last admonition: Never say, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” You chose to be the way you are while you were under the subconscious influence of unrecognized, unhealed emotional wounds, You can choose to be different to be better. It’s never too late to change your mind about who you are who you want to become. You can choose to redefine yourself.

The choice is yours!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MEET A RECOVERING PERFECTIONIST!


Is it good to be a perfectionist? How does one become a perfectionist? In order to answer these questions, we should look to someone who is quite familiar with this condition through personal experience our case study, Priscilla.

Is it good to be a perfectionist? Priscilla would give a resounding “No!” answer to this question. Based upon her own life-experience she would tell you quite emphatically that pursuing perfection is futile, painful and extremely dysfunctional.

How does one become a perfectionist? This reply requires a bit more reflection and effort to answer than the first. In Priscilla’s case, she has come to realize that what “set her up” to foolishly strive for perfection was the deep wound in her heart of having always felt like a victim from a very early age and into adulthood.

Why did she feel like a victim? Because she had spent ALL of her formative childhood years, as well as ALL of her adolescent/teen-age years, in a state of “learned powerlessness”. If one feels powerless in any given situation, one feels victimized by the circumstances of that particular situation. Furthermore, if one has always felt powerless, than this person develops a “victim mentality”.

This victim mentality caused Priscilla to feel weak, pitiful, and pathetic. These feelings turned into voices in her soul (False Identity) that continually reminded her of her inferior condition. Even though Priscilla had long ago internalized all the lies as her personal truth, she still had a little spunkiness. A slight spark of her god-given gifts had not been completely snuffed out. Consequently, she came to believe that the only way she could overcome her pathetic state was by trying to be perfect in any and all areas that had earned her any form of favorable notice.

For instance, Priscilla’s dad had always told her that she must look pretty and keep a clean house. Is it any surprise that she became determined to “perfect’ these two areas of her life. Most of Priscilla’s adult life was spent on looking as good as she could and keeping an immaculate house. She gave no thought to character, integrity, or wisdom because these things were never discussed, modeled or even mentioned in any way in her family-of-origin environment.

Since all of Priscilla’s passion and energy was spent on perfecting these two areas of her personhood, is it any wonder that she felt victimized when these pursuits brought her NONE of the favorable attention she fervently sought after? Her dad often told her what she must do. However, Priscilla can’t remember a single occasion when he complimented her appearance or the cleanliness of her home.

Allow me to share one snap-shot memory that portrays this point. While Priscilla was going through a particularly rough period of her adult life, she had lost an unhealthy amount of weight. During this time she saw her dad at least once a week. He would say, “You’re too skinny. You need to put on weight.”

Once her circumstances improved, she began to eat normally. Unfortunately, she rapidly put on too much weight due to the fact that her metabolism had slowed way down during the time she wasn’t eating properly. During one of their regular weekly visits her dad said, “You put on too much weight. You need to go on a diet and take off some of that bulk.”

At this point, Priscilla was finally learning to put down some boundaries in her life so she “spoke up” for herself. She looked at her dad and said, “Before, all I heard from you was how bad I looked being so skinny. Now I’m too fat. Why didn’t you say anything at all when I was transitioning from being too skinny to being too fat? What? Did I miss seeing you on that one day when I must have been right in the middle? Wasn’t there some point in this big pendulum swing when you actually thought I looked good?” Her dad was shocked and couldn’t utter a word. His silence was a welcomed relief.

Priscilla has no memory of ever receiving a compliment for anything about her personhood from any member of her family-of-origin only criticism. Yet she continued to work harder in those areas where she stupidly hoped to reach perfection in order to win someone’s approval. When acceptance never materialized, two devastating components occurred in her psyche.

First, the smoldering anger continued to mount due to the unmitigated “unfairness” of her situation. However, expressions of anger were totally outlawed for the children in her childhood home. It had to be repressed at all costs. The only way she could hide this seething anger was to deny its’ validity and then turn it inward on her personhood.

Second, the repressed anger turned inward fueled self-condemnation, which eventually turned into self-hatred. As the voices of her false-identity relentlessly mocked and taunted her psyche, she slowly began to despise everything about herself.

In an attempt to conclude this post, allow me to switch gears by giving you a good- news/bad-news scenario. The good news is “behavior is learned”. The bad news is “behavior is learned”. I don’t think we can “unlearn” anything. However, we can learn good and even better behavior in order to dilute the power of the bad behavior we learned and adopted as children.

Priscilla continues to struggle every day with the bad behavior she learned as a child, like feeling victimized and condemning herself in her soul. That’s the bad news. But the good news is she will never give up the “good fight” to learn to love her good qualities and to nurture those qualities within herself.

If you remember nothing else from this post, please remember this one point: Behavior is learned. If you don’t like your present behavior patterns, you can teach yourself new ones. It won’t be easy. It won’t be pain-free. But, with persistence and passion, you can become the person you really want to be!

HOPE TO SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!

REFLECTIVE QUESTION:

After spending time in deep and private reflection, can you begin to identity aspects of your behavior patterns that really aren't natural to you?  Are you willing to confront the source of these learned-behavior patterns?  Are you willing to "own the issue" in order that you may take the necessary steps to affect change in that area?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

MEET AN ANGRY WOMAN!

A casual observer would probably look at this picture and ask, “What could be wrong with any one of these ladies? They’re all dressed up and looking good. It appears they’re going to some gala event where they’re sure to impress and have a great evening. Right?”

While I can’t speak for all of these women, I can for one of them the brunette on the right. That’s Priscilla. Sure, she’s managed to look good on the outside. But inside? Trust me that’s a totally different picture.

A close examination of this woman’s dysfunctional psyche would reveal the following:

  • She’s stuck in a debilitating state of “learned powerlessness”.
  • She’s filled with a long-repressed rage that is so intense she can’t allow herself to acknowledge its’ presence.
  • Her crippling “false identity” (all the lies she had long ago internalized as truth about herself) has caused Priscilla to actually loathe herself to a dangerous degree.
The about to be revealed, essentially-important third step of seeking healing from one’s childhood wounding is to give one’s self permission to “grieve” over all of his/her losses.  As is the case with most adults who were raised in a dysfunctional family-of-origin environment, Priscilla had never been afforded the opportunity to simply “be a child”. Her parents constant fighting, their emotional neglect of the children, the sexual molestation at five years old All this “adult” drama prevented Priscilla from experiencing a normal childhood, which in itself is a great loss. The entire time she was growing up physically she had been forced to deal with ”adult issues” emotionally.

Once one becomes enlightened regarding specific areas of deep wounding to his/her psyche and begins to seek healing of these wounds, the next step in the process is to allow one’s self to “grieve“.

How does one grieve over emotional losses? The first step is to “own the issue". You can’t alter something that doesn’t belong to you. However, if you own it, you can change it. You can do anything you’d like with whatever belongs to you. Thus, the need to first “own it” is abundantly essential.

The second rung on the ladder of this unique grieving process will probably catch you completely off-guard. Childhood wounding creates intense anger. As a powerless child, one can’t control the environment in which he/she has been placed. However, all the “wrong” that occurs in that “out of control” situation will naturally create a great deal of anger. The longer this anger is repressed, the more likely it will slowly become deep-seated rage.

When an individual begins to process his/her festering wounds from childhood, an angry cloud begins to follow the individual around for a while. You will more than likely develop a hair-trigger temper that will frighten you, as well as those closest to you. At this point, it’s very important to realize that this is “old” anger. It must come up before it can flow out.

This picture humorously, yet clearly depicts Priscilla’s angry demeanor as she progressed through this step. Her rage was so intense that it truly frightened her. At the same time, she seemed to instinctively realize that she had to simply “let it rip!” She could not allow herself to try to repress it any longer. Consequently, she isolated herself as much as possible during that rather lengthy phase of the process.

Once her anger subsided, she began a long season of intermittent, uncontrollable crying. This third rung is also absolutely crucial to the overall grieving process. Her biggest loss was never being allowed to experience the typical care-free pleasures of childhood. Consequently, her soul desperately needed to thoroughly grieve this loss no matter how long the crying spells persisted.

Remember the little sad girl from our previous post whose eyes silently pleaded for validation? Whatever we take time and care to grieve, we validate at the same time. When we disown our woundedness by denying its’ existence, we have effectively invalidated the pain associated with these psychological wounds. On the other hand allowing ourselves to fully acknowledge these wounds also allows us to validate the silent, inner pain these wounds have inflicted upon our souls. Once our pain finally receives the vital validation, our worth as a person becomes validated at the same time. Therefore, this season of grieving cannot be over-emphasized.

If you remember nothing else about this post, remember this one point. When we invalidate our pain through our denial of its’ existence, we invalidate our personhood. However, if we take the time and effort to properly process our inner pain, we validate ourselves at the same time. This is why it’s so important that one understand this premise and apply it to one’s self.

A helpful hint one can utilize in grieving childhood losses is to allow yourself to experience some of the things that had been denied to you as a child. For instance, Priscilla always wanted to take dancing lessons and perform in recitals as some of her school friends had done. This “frivolous” desire had never been realized. Consequently, as a thirty-something-year-old woman she allowed herself to experience the fulfillment of her childhood desire. She took ballet, tap, and jazz dancing lessons for several years. Of course, she started dancing much too late to become a good dancer, but she did perform in two dance recitals before she gave up her dancing ambitions. What really mattered most was that she gave herself permission to do something purely frivolous that she had always wanted to do. She validated a childish desire!

In closing, let’s quickly summarize this three-part vitally important step of the overall healing process Grieving One’s Losses.

First, allow yourself to own your issues. Once you’ve taken ownership, they’re yours to do with as you please.

Second, get in touch with all the long-denied and/or well-disguised anger from your childhood. Allow enough time as required for all of it to come to the surface, Be willing to endure a season of learning to recognize old anger. Let it out!

Third, allow yourself the necessary latitude to cry as long and as hard as you must in order to overcome all the experiences of loss from your childhood experience.

HOPE TO SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!

Reflective Question:

Have you ever considered what you really look like on the inside?  If I could see into your soul, what would I find?  Sadness?  Rage?  Self-condemnation?


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

MEET A DYSFUNCTIONAL WOMAN!


This young woman has been extremely battered and bruised by the way she’s lived her life. She has hurt herself, as well as many others she deeply cared about, with the unresolved issues from her childhood. She really wasn’t even aware that she carried these emotional wounds along with her as she moved through her adult years. Without her conscious awareness, these wounds continued to fester and worsen. That old cliché Time Heals All Wounds is a lie! The more time passes without addressing your issues, the worse they become not better.

In our last post we introduced some psychological terms and/or principles such as:

FORMATIVE YEARS - Period of childhood from birth to 7 years old. These are the years when the child’s soul is the most pliable and impressionable.

SELF-CONCEPT - Depending upon the care-givers’ interaction with the child, as well as the involvement with any other children, the child begins to form a picture of himself/herself in the soul. The child begins to identity with the picture, thus creating the self-concept.

FALSE-IDENTITY - This condition occurs when the child has been taught to identify with a picture that is not accurate that is based upon the false imprints embedded in the child’s soul. It is too complex to explain in a simple sentence or two. Also, it is extremely difficult to correct once it’s devastating influence has permeated the person’s injured psyche.

COMFORT-ZONE - This is how the individual’s psyche has been programmed to navigate through adult life. One will become quite uncomfortable whenever he/she violates the way their psyche has been programmed to perform in his/her world.

In this issue of our mini-series, we’ll focus more closely on the false-identity and how it negatively influences the way your psyche has been programmed to become your unique comfort-zone.

If you were raised in a dysfunctional home which is any home that does not function in the best interests of each individual child you can be sure of this: You have been dressed in a false-identity. Your self-concept has been negatively skewed.

The false-identity is the master programmer of the comfort-zone. A good word-picture would be the comfort-zone is like a sailing vessel. It’s going to take you wherever you go in life. The false-identity is the diabolical pilot who charts the course of your ship. Unfortunately, when a false-identity is at the helm of your vessel, you’re going to sail into an ocean full of heartache. At some point you’ll find yourself bogged down in more failure than you ever could have imagined.

How does the false-identity run your ship amuck? By using the snap-shot memories and subsequent voices in your wounded soul to steer your vessel into shallow waters where it is sure to get stuck. Using Priscilla, here’s a quick example of how a snap-shot memory gets used by the false-identity to create a very “uncomfortable” comfort-zone.

Whenever Priscilla and her older sister were having a bit of childish fun, they would laugh and cut up together. This would inevitably create a little noise. Daddy didn’t like being disturbed by the children making noise. He would bow up in anger, go to where the girls were having fun, and blow up at his kids. After a few formative years of enduring Daddy’s fierce anger, Priscilla experientially interpreted this scenario to mean “having fun is bad”. As an adult, she became very uncomfortable whenever she found herself having fun because she was out of her comfort-zone. In order to be able to feel like herself again she would have to stop the frivolous experience.

Being yelled at for having fun is one of Priscilla’s most vivid snap-shot memories. After a while, the memory turned into a voice in her head that spoke to her subconscious saying, “Having fun is bad. In order to be good, you can’t have fun.” Consequently, Priscilla never could see herself as a fun person. If by some chance she experienced a little fun, she immediately felt bad because she was out of her comfort-zone, the way in which she had been programmed to navigate through life.

One more quick example of how “lies can become your truth”. Another vivid snap-shot memory took place at the dinner table. Since her older sister, Dotty, always got ALL of their parents’ attention by doing things that upset Daddy, Priscilla tried her best to be good in order to please her dad and perhaps steal a tiny bit of attention for herself. This particular evening Priscilla brought out her straight-A report card, believing Daddy would be well pleased.

However, before he even looked at Priscilla’s “A’s”, he asked to see Dotty’s grades, demanding that she explain why she was hiding them. Mom immediately flew into action to defend Dotty. Soon, Mommy and Daddy were fiercely fighting about Dad’s harsh criticism over the first-born child’s grades. Mom left the table crying. Dotty went to her bedroom to pout. Daddy finished his dinner with an angry look on his face. But nobody paid any attention to Priscilla by bothering to comment on her hard-earned straight “A’s”.

Naturally, Priscilla’s feeling that she wasn’t “worthy” of her parent’s attention had been reinforced yet again. Another lie became her truth. The one who got all the attention even though it was totally negative attention was “worthy”. Priscilla’s lack of any kind of attention eventually turned into the false-identity’s voice, which reminded her continuously that she was “intrinsically worthless”.

We began this post by talking about the battered and bruised, dysfunctional woman who appeared in the picture with red, swollen eyes from crying. Let’s close by examining this final picture. Take a close look at the sad-eyed child. If she could speak, she would tell us what her soul desperately needs by saying, “Please validate me!

This little girl’s childhood served to totally invalidate her as a person. Consequently, she became the woman we saw at the beginning. If you remember nothing else about this post, please remember this: That dysfunctional woman made all the bad choices that deeply hurt her, as well as the people she cared most about, because she desperately needed to be validated! Her quest for validation, coupled with a crippling false-identity, nearly destroyed her life. Yes it’s that serious!

HOPE TO SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!

REFLECTIVE QUESTION:

Can you understand now how these snap-shot memories from childhood serve to define you as a person?  Take this opportunity to examine your memories again while asking this question of yourself, "What does this memory say about me?"
 

 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

MEET AN INAPPROPRIATE TEENAGER!

What makes this attractive young girl inappropriate? Well, she’s just barely a teenager and she’s trying to dress herself in a much older girl’s clothing. The older girl’s outfit will make her look “sexy” at an inappropriate age a mere 13 years old. She’ll be presenting herself with an appearance of sexuality she doesn’t yet understand. And, she’s certainly too emotionally immature to properly process the inevitable consequences that will surely follow this inappropriate behavior.

What happened? How did this sweet young girl arrive at this place? How did she get that way at only 13 years old? That’s the question we’ll address in this segment of our mini-series. While I can’t speak for anyone else, I can approach this question from Priscilla’s perspective.  The perplexing answer lies buried deep within some unresolved childhood issues.

At the tender age of 13, Priscilla had already been “outwardly” dressed in a “false identity”. Under these outer-garments, she was clothed in a wholly bogus “self-concept”. Symbolically speaking, she had been dressed in these ugly garments both outer-wear and under-wear during the “formative years” of her childhood.

We’ve all heard of those crucial formative years the period from birth to approximately 7 years old. As we navigate through this period of physical and emotional growth, we each develop a self-concept. During these vulnerable years, a powerless little child will wholly believe whatever impression is left upon his/her soul. As each one of us will see ourselves through the eyes of those closest to us on a daily basis, the words, actions, and attitudes of those significant people leave a lasting imprint. This imprint becomes the self-concept, which translates into the child’s "personal identity". Without ever realizing the powerful impact of the dynamics at work, we will subconsciously negotiate our lives in such a manner as to remain true to our personal identities.

For instance, if your self-concept genuine or bogus continually whispers to your subconscious mind “you are bad”, then the future circumstances of your life will always find you feeling “bad” about yourself. Whenever your life’s circumstances are such that you could, and should, feel “good” about yourself, you will end up feeling strangely “uncomfortable”. Thus, our individual “comfort-zone” becomes any set of circumstances that cause us to feel we are remaining true to our personal identities.

However, just as a toddler is dressed each day according to the care-giver’s choice for the child, we were dressed in our individual personal identity during those formative years by circumstances completely beyond our control. As a powerless young child, you do not choose your identity. Rather it is “put on you” by the significant people in your life during those critical formative years. Nevertheless, you will unknowingly because it’s done on a subconscious level orchestrate the circumstances of your life to remain “stuck” in a comfort-zone that is far from comfortable and not even of your own choosing!

Are you beginning to get the picture? Let’s put a little flesh on our theory by using Priscilla as an example again. Remember in the previous post we learned that at 5 years old Priscilla’s self-concept was that she was a pathetic weakling, as well as an intrinsically worthless human being. In order to earn her right to continue to live, she had to please her dad by being as feminine as she could manage, always look as pretty as she could, and remain silent about her feelings and desires. Another contributor to her false identity which had been born in those formative years was completely unknown to everyone except Priscilla. At the tender age of 5 years old she had been sexually molested by a distant family member. Feeling almost invisible and quite worthless to her environment her family-of-origin she kept this secret to herself. However, the inappropriate encounter opened her soul to a slight spark of sexuality she could not understand nor control.


Consequently, at 13 years old we find Priscilla unintentionally presenting herself in an inappropriate way to her little world. Being sensual had unwittingly become a part of her false identity.  She certainly did not choose to be sensual.  She really didn't even know what being sensual involved.  Yet it had been "put on her" in much the same way as the other elements of her false identity had been forced upon her budding psyche. Because her self-concept was totally negatively skewed and completely erroneous, she could not feel “right” unless she remained true to this false identity by becoming a person she didn't know and couldn't ever like.

Can you see how weird this stuff is? Why is it called a “comfort-zone” when one is usually miserable while the individual is firmly planted in his/her supposed “comfortable spot”.

I try to keep these posts short because I’ve been told that I must or I’ll lose my readers. Okay I’m trying.  That's why I've decided to break up our discussion of the false identity into several parts.  It is absolutely imperative, dear reader, that you come to a meaningful understanding of the emotional principles at work in the creation of the false identity.  If you're ever going to be able to live a better life, you will necessarily have to embrace these psychological principles that will allow you to open the locked door leading to your subconscious programing.  You must first understand what's controlling you before you can break the ties that keep you bound to personal failure.


Before we dismiss the inappropriate teenager, let's take a brief look at what's going to happen as she progresses through her teenage years.  Instead of being silly, learning to dance, enjoying time giggling with girlfriends, and the like, this young lady was already dating a much older boy and dealing with adult pressures while she was still just a child.  At 12 years old Priscilla had been allowed to begin a dating relationship with an 18 year old boy who had already graduated from high-school.  What were her parents thinking?  The truth is they weren't thinking about their little girl at all.  They were still too caught up in their own unresolved childhood issues to pay much attention to what was happening to their little girl.

The inappropriate spark of sexuality that Priscilla didn't even know had been "put on her" attracted the much older young man.  Her vulnerability flashed off and on like a neon sign even though she was entirely too young to understand it and was totally unequipped to control it.  Unfortunately, not only could young males see the neon light flashing all around her, but so could the other females.  She didn't have many girlfriends.  Due to the subconscious false identity that had been "put on her" in those formative years, she had been doomed to become a lonely, vulnerable little girl, a lonely, inappropriate teenager, and a lonely, messed-up adult woman.

It really doesn't matter how many people are in your life.  If you haven't been emotionally equipped to genuinely connect with these people, you'll always feel lonely regardless of who's sharing your life's experiences with you.  Next time we'll delve more deeply into this complex principle of the false identity that's actually forced on us as children in our formative years.

The really good news is that none of this is hopeless. The negatively skewed self-concept can be set straight. The false identity can become authentic. The comfort-zone can be made pleasurable, as it’s name insinuates. However, it is going to require deliberate, concentrated effort by each wounded individual in order to arrive at that “better place”.

This is the next step in the healing process be willing to confront your false identity. You cannot change what you will not confront. Confrontation is the key that opens the door to a better place.


Hope to see you next week!

REFLECTIVE QUESTION:

Carefully examine your "self-concept" as best you can.  How do you see yourself?  Are you willing to confront the negative aspects of your self-concept?  Are you willing to allow those painful snap-shot memories to surface in your conscious mind in order to carefully re-examine them with adult-level skills?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

MEET A LOST LITTLE GIRL!


Have you ever wondered who you really are deep down inside where even you can’t see? Priscilla wondered this about herself most of her adult life, until she finally reached the infamous “end of herself”. That’s when she made a promise that she would continue to search until she found the lost little girl hiding in her broken, dysfunctional spirit. Although this quest to find her “authentic self” would take many years, it was well worth the huge effort required to complete her mission.
Last week we discussed how Priscilla came to that notable “end of herself” first. Then she took the difficult first-step in the healing process taking full responsibility for herself. Before we progress further let’s expound upon this first-step a bit.

None of us are “responsible” for the things that happened to us when we were powerless little children who were wholly dependent on the adults in our world. However, we are wholly responsible for the choices we made in our lives, even though childhood events may have and probably did greatly influence those choices.

The next step in the healing process is to unpack and examine all the “baggage” we carry along with us into every single relationship we choose to embark upon. While we were children, we didn’t yet possess the “adult tools” to properly process painful events that occurred in our childhood.  Consequently, we all tend to bury these memories through our “denial”. We assume, out of sight out of mind. We pretend these little kinks in our psyche just don’t really exist as we attempt to get on with our lives. But they are quite prominent in your sub-conscious mind. Others close to you will see the evidence of their existence by the way these unresolved-issues control and negatively influence your actions as well as your emotions. Of this, you can be sure!

These unresolved-childhood issues take many forms. For instance, a child is forced to feel insecure, guilty and ashamed every time the child witnesses his or her parents fighting. The immature little child will always assume, “It’s all my fault. If I had been good, Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t be fighting.” These feelings of insecurity, guilt and shame are captured on mental tapes which will play in that child’s sub-conscious over and over again. These same tapes will continue to play even in the sub-conscious mind of the adult-child until the adult learns of their existence and then takes the necessary steps to change the tapes. These faulty tapes can’t be erased but they can be taped over with positive, emotionally-healthy information.

Once the individual revists these unhealthy memories with “adult skills” at his/her disposal, the individual realizes their parents problems were not really caused by the child’s behavior. Rather, Mom and Dad had their own set of unresolved-issues from their childhood. As the lies get replaced with truth, the incorrect, childish assumptions can be taped over using adult reasoning levels. Thus, the individual can find release from the power of those sub-conscious recordings.


Look closely at this picture which represents a five-year-old rendition of Priscilla. What do you see? Since you can only see the outside, you’d probably say something like, “Well, I see a pretty, well-groomed little girl who looks a little bit sad.” On a slightly humorous note, when I showed this picture to my husband he said, “Or a pretty, well-groomed little girl who looks a little bit like a doll. What’s with the bow and arrow?” Dear reader, try not to be distracted from the specific message intended in using these particular pictures okay?

When Priscilla looks at this picture through the eyes of her childhood memories she sees not a pretty little girl but rather one who is pathetic, bad, hopelessly selfish, self-centered I could go on but I believe you’ve gotten my point already. This little girl was wholly convinced that she had to please everyone around her in order to simply earn the right to live, since she sincerely believed that she was intrinsically worthless.

She had to look pretty and feminine all the time. Otherwise, the only person in her childhood home who seemed to at least notice her Daddy would not be pleased. Priscilla felt as though she was invisible to her mother, who only “saw” her older sister, Dotty. And Dotty actually hated her. (This was not her childish imagination. Dotty admitted to Priscilla how much she always hated her once they were adults.) Since her mother didn’t really see her, and her sister truly hated her, the only way she could earn the right to live was by being Daddy’s pretty, little girl who was to be “seen but not heard”. He told her that all the time.


After considering the above, it’s not hard to understand how Priscilla came to be like the young woman in this third picture. A woman who always tried to look good on the outside, but who carried along a black soul into every relationship she attempted to cultivate.


Let’s close our discussion until next time. In summary, thus far we’ve learned the first and second step in the healing process of our damaged emotions.
    Be willing to consciously take full responsibility for each and every choice you’ve made in your life.
    Be willing to learn how to examine the “excess baggage” you’ve carried along in your soul.
                                                      Hope to see you again next week!
 

Reflective Questions:

Has any long-forgotten childhood memories surfaced in your mind? If the answer is yes, why not begin to keep a journal of some sort where you can record the things you are about to learn about yourself. As these memories surface, record in your journal what “impression” each memory left on your soul.


Who were you trying to please in childhood? Your daddy? Your mother? Or someone else?
 
 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

MEET A DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY!

First, let me be honest! I’ve never watched The Family Guy program on TV. It just so happened that when I was looking for a picture to depict a “dysfunctional family”, this one jumped out of the pile and demanded my attention. Having said that, we’ll move on to the point of this post.

Let’s begin our journey of overcoming “childhood wounds” by defining two terms we’ll be using throughout our discussions.

What are childhood wounds? This term refers to those areas of our psychological development that were hindered from developing properly during our childhood years. Often, this hindrance is caused by “dysfunctional parenting”.

What is dysfunction? This term denotes anything that does not function in the way it was meant to perform. The “job description” for parenting is to create an environment where the child feels “safe an environment that meets both the physical and psychological needs of the child in order that he or she may develop into a responsible, independent adult.

Most dysfunctional parenting is caused by a simple “reversal of roles” meaning the parents mistakenly feel the child is supposed to meet their needs, rather than the other way around. For example, an unfulfilled parent may hope the child will meet his/her need to experience unconditional love. Or possibly the parent endeavors to feel better about her/him self once the child meets the parent’s performance expectations. Perhaps the mother or father believes the child will bring stability to a shaky relationship. Maybe a parent hopes to have one of their unfulfilled dreams or desires fulfilled in the life of the child.

Are you getting the picture? In dysfunctional parenting, pressure is subtly, or not so subtly, placed squarely on the child’s shoulders to meet the parent’s needs. However, in order for the child’s psyche to develop in a healthy way, the focus must be directed solely to meeting the needs of the child not the other way around.

That old cliché You teach what you live. is undeniably accurate. If you were reared by dysfunctional parents, you will unknowingly, as well as unintentionally, wound your children in the same way that you were wounded. And the beat goes on until an individual (like Priscilla) finds her/him self in enough emotional pain whereby that person will search within to find the internal willingness to first acknowledge this premise. Then this person must be willing to embrace the necessary healing process to overcome the power these emotional wounds wield over our adult lives. And take it from Priscilla, the emotional influence from these unknown, unhealed wounds over our daily lives is very, very powerful!

When Priscilla reached an “end of herself” as described in an earlier post, she finally arrived at that pivotal point where she was eager to do whatever would be required of her to begin the difficult journey to a better place a place where she could finally put an end to the continuous cycle of one failure after another in her personal relationships. Simply taking one step at a time completes this journey. The first step is the hardest. But, Priscilla did it and so can you.

This surprisingly difficult first step is to take full responsibility for where ever you find yourself right now. As Priscilla would tell you if she were sitting face-to-face with you, the truth is you got into your current troubling circumstances by the choices you’ve made all along the way. Once you’ve torn down the unhealthy wall of denial that’s prevented you for seeing the truth about your circumstances, you’re finally ready to move on.

Most wounded people have lost their “heart” along the way and don’t know how or where to search for it. Since Priscilla had lost her heart many years earlier, she had come to see herself merely as a “pathetic failure”. She had completely lost touch with her gifts, as well as her passions. Once she rediscovered her “authentic self”, she was able to reach out to others with renewed passion and bold confidence in her newly revealed gifts. This is how she became what she likes to refer to as a “healed helper”.

Each post of this mini-series will conclude with a few thought-provoking questions. These questions are meant to stimulate your private thoughts in a meaningful direction. They are not to be answered publicly in the comments section. Hopefully, as you reflect upon your personal response to a particular question, a light will suddenly turn on in a dark, forgotten recess of your soul.

Hope to see you next week as we continue our journey!
 
  1. All of us have “snapshot memories” from our childhood. Are the majority of your memories happy? Or sad? 
  2. In these snapshots, are you usually laughing and giggling? Or pouting and sulking?
  3. Do you remember feeling loved, approved of, treasured? Or criticized, unworthy, ashamed?
  4. Are most of your snapshot memories ones of a happy family environment in which the parents and children enjoyed doing things together as a family? Or do you remember your parents fighting a lot?
  5. Can you describe in vivid detail your happiest memory from childhood?
  6.  
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

MEET PRISCILLA!

Hi! Welcome back to my Kreative Korner.

Today I’m announcing the beginning of a “mini-series” I plan to produce here on my website. If this is your first visit to the Kreative Korner, may I suggest that you go back and read the two previous posts on my site, Meet the Author and Meet the Leading Ladies. By doing that, you’ll be all caught up and ready to proceed with this series.

First, I introduced you to myself, the author of Murder on Murder Creek Road, which should be released sometime around May of 2012. Next, I introduced you to the real-life leading ladies of that same novel. Now, I’d like you to meet the main female character of my new book Priscilla.

Priscilla is a real-life person who plays a role in a fictional story, just as the other leading ladies do. In my first novel, All Rise, the main female character was named Deborah. Priscilla and Deborah both share the personality and real-life experiences of the same person me, the author.

I recall reading something pertaining to being a good writer that quoted Mark Twain as saying, “Write what you know.” That’s what I set out to do years ago when I first picked up the pen to try my hand at creative writing. What I “know” is how it feels to arrive at a place in life that you never would have set out to go to where you have no desire to remain but don’t know how to move away from that intensely painful spot to a better place. Since the above is what I really “know“, it will always play a part in each one of my novels. Murder on Murder Creek Road opens to find Priscilla standing squarely on this spot, as if there had been an “X” marking the place where she should stand.

Since production of my new novel won’t actually get underway until November, I’m planning to spend the interim time sharing “what I know” from Priscilla’s perspective. The purpose of exposing some of her real-life experiences is to allow the reader (male or female) to draw parallels from her life to your own.

Priscilla appeared to have a lot going for her. She was smart, sensitive, disciplined and most of all passionate! When she cared about something, she would usually become fanatical about it. Due to this passionate-fanatic characteristic of hers, she frequently found herself labeled as some sort of “weird crusader” by a few critical onlookers who were not particularly fond of her or her fanaticism. Unfortunately, Priscilla’s passions were being driven by forces powers, if you will completely unknown to her. She didn’t know why she found herself facing one personal failure after another. She wanted to be right do right live right. Yet, time and time again, she found herself deeply perplexed as she sat sobbing, surrounded by more and more ugly rubble that represented continual failure in her life.

Fortunately, the day finally dawned when Priscilla came to an utter “end of herself”. At this point she realized that the only common denominator in all the ugly drama in her midst was “her”. While the people and the circumstances kept changing, she remained standing in the center of it all. Finally, she could not escape the realization that the real problem was with her. That’s when she desperately cried out to the empty space around her, “How do I get it right when I learned to do it all wrong?”

Priscilla had been deeply psychologically wounded in her childhood. Whether we are ever willing to acknowledge it or not, most of us were emotionally wounded in childhood some more deeply than others. Many will never realize that these unrecognized wounds from childhood are actually shaping and controlling our lives today. By influencing the choices we make on a daily basis, our childhood unknowingly takes charge of our day-to-day adult lives. Sadly, many of us will wake up one day asking, “What happened? How did I get here? What made me do that? How could I have done that? How do I stop? How can I learn to live a better, more fulfilling life?”

Most of us did not grow up in the perfect little family we see on Hallmark cards and Norman Rockwell paintings. And, since most of us will never come to understand how we were wounded by our families-of-origin, we will unknowingly and unintentionally wound our children in the same way. Remember earlier I said that the purpose of sharing Priscilla’s real-life experiences is to allow the reader to draw parallels from her life to your own. With this purpose foremost in my mind, I’d like to begin a series that outlines the journey Priscilla embarked upon to find the answers to her agonizing questions regarding the preponderance of personal failure in her life. While she is no authority on matters of psychology, this will simply be an account of her personal experiences, the realizations she derived from her own self-analysis and how these self-taught principles led her down the road to recovery.

My fervent hope is that you’ll join me each week as we follow this mysterious journey together. And that perhaps you’ll find some sparkling little “jewel of enlightenment” to help you, the reader, in discovering your own way to a more fulfilling life.

Hope to see you next time!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

MEET THE LEADING LADIES !

As I explained in my earlier post, Meet the Author, I like to borrow the personality of real people from my life and apply their individual uniqueness to the characters I have created in my novels. I must emphasize that the characterization of the “real” individual is from my perspective only how I see this person as I’ve interacted with the particular individual in a personal relationship. Also, I always receive permission before I create the fictional character that bears their first name, as well as their personality traits.

Having made this disclaimer, I’d like to introduce to you, dear reader, to the real-life leading ladies from my second novel, Murder on Murder Creek Road. I’ll begin with the lady I’ve known the longest and work down to the “newest” one on my list of female friends.


Please allow me to introduce you to my dear friend, Linda. She and I met when we were 12 years-old at a local skating rink in our home town of New Orleans. Soon after that first encounter we quickly became best-friends. We lived within walking distance of each other’s home and attended the same schools.

Unfortunately, we both came from extremely dysfunctional families. Some family-of-origin similarities we shared was that both Linda and myself had only one sibling an older sister. And, our parents divorced each other around the same time in our early teen-age years. There was lots of dysfunctional drama to bind us together. In a very real sense, we clung to one another as an ever-present support system in order to survive all the trauma of our earlier years.

After we both married very young and started our families, we did drift apart a little. However, the lengthy break in our friendship came when Linda’s marriage ended after almost two decades and four children later. My first marriage had already ended much earlier. My only child a son was still a toddler when his father and I divorced. I was on my second marriage and we had moved from the New Orleans area to the backwoods of Mississippi.

Neither Linda nor myself is very clear on what caused the lengthy interruption in our friendship. But almost 20 years passed before we were reunited and reconnected. Since we have such a long history together, we easily became the best of friends all over again.

As the picture reflects, Linda is a bosomy, attractive redhead. Her nature naturally leans towards generously giving of herself through her talents and time. Her current passions are her grandkids and cooking. She adeptly demonstrates her love for the people in her life by keeping them well fed with delicious gourmet meals.

Linda is intelligent, efficient, and quite capable of taking the lead when necessary. She can be surprisingly spunky. She doesn’t like complainers and rarely does so herself. If you are her friend and you need help, she will jump through hoops of fire to assist you in any way she is able.

Oh, one last quality about my friend that is abundantly obvious in my new book is that she genuinely spoils the man in her life to a fault. Linda appears in both All Rise and Murder on Murder Creek Road.


I met Maureen when I married her brother, my second and current husband. She was in her late teens at the time and I was in my early twenties. She’s been in my life ever since.

It’s hard not to like my little sister-in-law (she’s only 4”10” tall). Probably the first thing anyone would notice after meeting her is how she exudes sweetness. She’s soft-spoken, loves to laugh, and has an adventuresome spirit. She’s been an entrepreneur, running her own marketing business for the past 25 years. Her diminutive size can be deceptive. It tends to camouflage her genuine spunkiness. In the past she’s been known to regularly ride motorcycles, dirt-bikes, and jet-skis.

Over the years, our relationship grew into more than just in-laws We became good friends. We have similar personality styles, causing us to be able to relate to one another on the same level.

In my opinion, Maureen was born to be the submissive wife. She is faithful, loyal and deeply devoted to the man in her life.

I met Donna when we both worked at a large transportation company in New Orleans. While on the job, I worked very closely with my blonde friend. During that time we got to know each other quite well. Donna was in her early twenties when we met and I was in my late twenties.

Once we no longer worked together, we drifted apart several times. But we always seemed to get reconnected over the intervening years. This last time our paths crossed, I had written  All Rise and it was just being released by the publisher. I began to write Murder on Murder Creek Road as soon as I had sent out my All Rise manuscript for consideration. Even though I hadn’t seen Donna in years, I made her one of the leading characters in my new novel because her vivid, vivacious personality was ever so easy to work with in my story. She and my husband experienced a chance encounter in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Picayune, Ms. He told her about my first novel about to be released and that I had made her a leading lady in the second novel I was currently writing. That’s how we reconnected again.

Donna is a live-wire! I sometimes refer to her as the “blonde diva” because she makes her presence known where ever she goes with her effervescent personality. While I tend to avoid the spotlight, Donna loves being the center of attention. Don’t let the blonde hair and the party-girl image fool you. She’s smart, savvy, and unpredictably dynamic.

My dear friend, Patty, and I met through divine intervention. At a particularly painful point in my life, I had gone to a counselor for help with my emotional issues. Through a long string of circumstances, Patty heard about me and decided to reach out to me. My doorbell rang, I answered the door, and found a total stranger who put her arms around me and told me she loved me. Even though I was shocked, I invited her in to talk. There began a deep, abiding friendship with a woman who would become a true heroine in my life, as she is accurately portrayed in my yet to be released newest novel.

Patty and I are a lot alike yet very different at the same time. She is forceful, but in a completely loving way. She is a “right fighter” to be sure. She’s out to correct the wrongs in our world by loving one wounded woman at a time. While she’s a devoted wife, mother, and now grandmother, she always makes room in her busy schedule to help any hurting woman who appears on her radar screen. She truly is my heroine!

I’ve known Tanya the least amount of time from all the other leading ladies in my book. However, she has a way of getting into one’s heart rather quickly. Like Linda, she appears in both novels.

I met Tanya just days after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast areas of Louisiana and Mississippi. Since my husband and I had lost our electricity for well over a month due to the storm, we would go to Ryan’s Restaurant in Picayune to enjoy a good meal as we basked in the air-conditioned environment. Tanya had begun working as a server immediately after electricity was restored in parts of the city.

We happened to be at Ryan’s on Tanya’s first day on the job. We couldn’t help but notice her. While she is a very pretty, tall blonde formerly a model it’s her sweet personality that really makes her stand out from the crowd. Although she’s very attractive, she seems totally unaware of this fact as she interacts with the people around her.

Tanya is a dear, kind, unique individual. She’s quite sexy but in a most wholesome way. To know her is to like her. To know her better is to love her as a kind and nurturing friend.