How Childhood Sexual Abuse Made Me a Better Coach

 

 

 

I have lived through the unfortunate experience of childhood sexual trauma. I am not a victim nor a survivor. I am merely a person who experienced the same terrible thing as so many other children in our world.

Believe it or not, this has made me a much better coach than I could ever be having not gone through these experiences. I realize this might not make much sense to you yet, but bear with me and you’ll see why.

Borderline Personality Disorder

“Borderline personality disorder is a condition in which people have long-term patterns of unstable or turbulent emotions, such as feelings about themselves and others. These inner experiences often cause them to take impulsive actions and have chaotic relationships.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001931/

As I grew into a young woman struggling with anxiety and depression, the root causes never being addressed, this was my diagnosis for years.

The “treatment” for the disorder involves massive amounts of sedatives, second generation Thorazine drugs and huge doses of anti-depressant cocktails. It is impossible to function as a normal human on these medications.

I would argue with the doctors and therapists, insisting this diagnosis not only made no sense for me, it didn’t seem to make any sense at all as far as I could tell.

They’d say, “But you are a poker player. You like risky behavior.”

Yes, but roulette is risky. Not poker. Unless you’re a sucky poker player. I was not.

“And you have a history of impulsive and dangerous sexual behavior.”

Yep, got me again. I like sex. A lot. But his using the word “dangerous” was an implication that my sexual behavior had been a contributing factor in the two rapes I experienced a few years prior. Bollocks. Complete and utter bollocks.

“And you cut yourself.”

Ouch. This one I could never argue with. Because if that wasn’t crazy behavior, I don’t know what is. The scars don’t lie.

“It makes my brain quiet down. Sometimes you just need quiet, you know?” I’d try to explain and fail.

And slowly I unraveled. Like a roll of paper towels, the more I unraveled the faster it went. One day I was a successful corporate executive and the next just another blank stare at a partial-care (a.k.a. suicide-watch-baby-sitting) facility’s group therapy meeting.

In my mid 30s I had a complete and total mental breakdown. It is not something I would wish on anyone. Not. Anyone. It is to stare into the face of hell and come back again.

To live through it is to be born for a second time (no, not in the Christian way. I’m a witch, they don’t want me). It is truly a second chance at life.

Once I finally made the commitment to get better, even though I had no idea what “better” looked like, things started happening.

Magic started happening.

I was working on some niche sites back then hoping to ride the Google welfare wave and had purchased an automated link building program…cos link building really was that easy back then.

One day as I was going through the log I found a site for the Women’s Institute for Incorporation Therapy (WIIT) in Hollywood, Florida. Weird, because this had absolutely nothing to do with the search queue I’d entered the night before. I checked out the site.

It was the answer. Their site described my symptoms and struggles with spooky accuracy. They explained how these were normal reactions to abnormal childhood events. They said that neither medication nor traditional therapy was likely to help but they had developed techniques which would. They did not mention “borderline personality” anywhere.

This was the place I needed to be. I read every word on that site and contacted them first thing the next morning.

“No meds. You have to be completely med-free while you’re here.”

What?! OK, calm down. They know what they’re doing. No meds. I can do this. OK.

“And we’ll need a deposit. 50%.”

Well that settles it. 50% of a four-week hospital stay plus airfare to southern Florida was just not in the cards for me. I thanked her remorsefully and hung up.

Mind you, according to all official documents I was still technically Borderline Personality Disorder incarnate. So of course I was still playing poker. Mostly online because I looked like death warmed over and was not in a rush to drive to a crowded casino full of men. But I still played like a mother-luvin’ demon.

And I won!

That night I won five figures. And the next night, I won again. Another five figures. And would you believe on the third night I placed second in a tournament of 5,000 players? It’s true. Even though I still have a hard time believing it myself.

Apparently I had been mistaken and this trip was indeed in the cards for me. Quite literally.

Later that week I called WIIT a second time, gave them my credit card information and booked a flight to Florida. My return ticket was open ended and I had a posh hotel in South Beach picked out for my eventual release.

Not only would I get the care I needed, I would indulge in some old fashioned recuperating by the sea after my ordeal was over.

I never felt more alone.

One of the hardest and most terrifying things I ever did was to check myself into that hospital. The weeks I spent at WIIT were the longest weeks of my life. But I worked hard and learned their techniques and for the first time in my life experienced an almost total reversal of my symptoms.

Being there also helped me gain perspective. Some women shared stories of being tortured by their abusers, some in unimaginably cruel and ritualistic manners, for their entire childhoods.

While we all bore the physical scars of self-abuse, one woman’s forearms were riddled with repeated third degree burns from her iron, tea kettle or anything hot enough to melt flesh. She was a beautiful young mother, and in such agony it broke my heart.

In addition to the scars and their root causes, we all had one other thing in common: we had all been previously diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.

Today I am a happy, healthy and (relatively) well-adjusted middle aged woman who no longer carries the burdens of her past on her back. I am successful at whatever I set out to accomplish and I no longer take pleasure in self abuse or sabotage. The voices in my head, once so ceaselessly loud and hateful, are now peaceful and supportive.

According to the prognosis, Borderline Personality Disorder MAY show mild improvement ONLY after long-term treatment. This prognosis is obviously bullshit, as is the diagnosis.

So here’s what I’d like to say:

To Women – If you or someone you know has been labeled with this bullshit diagnosis, know that you are not crazy. You are perfectly healthy. Your mind is still reacting to memories which it cannot yet distinguish from reality. You will heal. But you have to take the first two steps: commit to the healing and reach out for the help that will heal you.

To Doctors & Therapists – If you diagnose one more woman as Borderline Personality and recommend she medicate her symptoms “away,” I will come to your office and publicly humiliate you, you lazy sod. That is all.

To Everyone – YOU get to write your own story. No one else. Never accept the labels, limitations or liabilities others may try to pin on you. They do not have that right.

What This Means For You

Whatever your past, whatever your pain…it is your choice right here in this moment what to carry with you and what to leave behind. The power is yours. The freedom is yours. And…here’s the really scary part…the responsibility is yours.

I’ve been through the front gates of hell and back out the other side. The clarity I gained from that trip transformed my pain into a treasured gift. A gift I can offer to others.

This is why I call them Conjuring Clarity Sessions. It is something that I want to give, that I enjoy giving. While it’s true you get to write your own story, a little help finding your voice and the right (magic) words can make all the difference.

That’s why I’m here, now, doing what I do. And it’s also why my schedule is filling up so quickly I’m either going to have to raise the rates (again) or make people wait awhile…or both. But unlike the struggles from my past, these are GOOD problems to have!

 

35 thoughts on “How Childhood Sexual Abuse Made Me a Better Coach”

  1. The power and vulnerability coexist here in a way that I’ve found rare. “YOU get to write your own story” and I’m so glad you wrote this one to share so others can find what they need to write theirs.

    1. This one was a tad scary to hit the “publish” button…but if it helps one person than who am I to let my egoic fear get in the way. Phew, I am glad it’s done though ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks, Sandi!

  2. Beautiful honesty, rocking clarity, so full of love. You give me goosebumps, and I am so proud of you. And glad you are my friend and accountability partner.

    1. Susan, you make me blush. Thank you. And awshit, I didn’t sent the check-in again…I’m a bad accountability partner!

        1. WEWT! Thanks sistah ๐Ÿ™‚ …and shit, I won’t forget next week cos I don’t think I can pull another one outta me like this that soon. Now…where’s that merlot…

          1. And to think you wrote a guest post for me in the same week!

  3. Blown away by your honesty and your insights. This kind of raw, unflinching writing makes all the so-called “marketing advice” in the world look like cheap tricks. This is real magic.

    1. Blushing again…thank you Michael. But don’t miss tomorrow’s post: How to Automate Your Tweets and Get Tons of Followers So YOU Can Make Massive Money Too!

  4. It’s not often that I’m rendered speechless, but…wow. What remarkable honesty. You’ve earned and own your place in the universe. If others were as willing to grab this life by the horns, the world would be a very different place.

    1. Well sometimes it boils down to either grabbing the horns or letting them grab you. And they’re all pointy and sharp looking *shivers* Thank you so much for your kind words, Alysson.

  5. I love you so very much. So much brilliance.
    Hot damn, I can automate my tweets???
    xxx

  6. Jenny. You are so wise. and CLEAR. And funny. Is it wrong that one of my favorite lines in this beautiful piece of so much openness and healing is this:
    “To live through it is to be born for a second time (no, not in the Christian way. I’m a witch, they don’t want me).”

    Of course there are so many take-aways and life quotes for remembering here too. Thanks Jenny. Thank you.

    1. First there’s no ‘wrong’ on this blog lol. And secondly…thank you, that was my favorite line too. Still makes me chuckle (yes I amuse myself way too much to be healthy).

    1. Thank YOU Charles! Your reading and appreciation make it all worthwhile (okay and the Merlot afterwards ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Wow…well miss Jenny I am floored. THIS is what you’ve been up to, writing THIS!! The honesty, and love that it took to write this is nothing short of beautiful. Truly, truly moving my friend. And I echo Susan’s words – very proud indeed. Well done!! And I hope you enjoyed your Merlot ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Oh, and btw, I haven’t been on the last couple of Skype calls so I didn’t get a chance to mention that I’ll be in Michigan in July (the 8th-16th). I do hope we can hook up while I’m there!

    1. Thank you so much Tisha. Yes, I did enjoy the Merlot…very much lol. And OMG we MUST get together while you’re hear. You’ll not be too far from Royal Oak if my memory serves..? FUN!!

  9. Beautifully articulated post, and congratulations on becoming successful because of your experiences rather than ‘in spite’ of them. I became a fertility coach after finding little support through my miscarriages and your cutting struck me as possibly similar to my desire to get a tattoo to commemorate my losses: I felt as though having an external, tangible scar was a way to reflect the pain and scarring inside me. I felt marked invisibly anyway and if I marked myself willingly, I get to control it.

  10. As usual, I’m late – but here. And I gotta say, I’m proud of you for not taking the doctors’ word for it and not giving up until you got the help you needed. I got a ‘traits of borderline’ diagnosis once – I have no idea where that came from, but it figures that the psychiatric community made up something to cover what they’re too lazy to understand. All they do any more is hand out drugs like candy.

    Now, about your mad poker skillz… have you thought about offering coaching in that? I can think of one person who’d hire you.

  11. Jenny, thank you for your courage in telling your story. Breaking the silence is never easy.

    These are what I believe to be the 4 most important words in the English language for those who were sexually abused as children…It wasn’t your fault…Peace

  12. Came from another post of yours, I see I am a year late… what an amazing story this is, your journey is quite inspiring, to say the least. Wow…
     

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