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THE TRUTH CAN BE DEVASTATING, FRIGHTENING, AND DEADLY!

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Young/New Adult-Dark Suspense-Literary Fiction

She was left fighting her demons alone . . .

For sixteen-year-old Danielle DeCorso, the old house in Glastonbury was an eerie place to grow up. Coping with mental health challenges exacerbated by a traumatic family dynamic, Danielle watches from the window for two men in a dusty black sedan who keep circling the house and harassing her with phone calls. The two predators drugged her and her cousin, Angie, and then lured them from Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport to a secluded cottage on Long Beach West. She remembers feeling dizzy, the room spinning. She recalls screaming, crying, fighting, and then slipping in and out of consciousness. Angie, however, has no recollection of the incident.

When Danielle attempts to jog Angie’s memory and convince their best friend, Farran, that the two strangers had victimized them, no one seems to believe her. Alone in her pain, Danielle remains guarded, obsessed, and withdrawn. Soon she is sinking deeper into a tumultuous world of adolescent isolation and change. Grief, guilt, and anger send her spiraling into an even darker place.

Tormented by terrifying nightmares, she fears she will lose her sanity, or possibly her soul. Is she having post-traumatic stress hallucinations, as one of her friends suggest, or are her recurring nightmares as real as they seem? Trapped in an unyielding emotional bondage, Danielle continues the fight to reclaim her power. Startling revelations awaken her newfound spirit, inspiring a once naïve girl to grow into a woman of defiance and courage.

“A dark, alluring and fascinating book about a girl trying to crawl out of the darkness and despair and grow in strength and spirit.” –Books Are Love

“A gripping and emotional story about trauma and abuse…” – Elizabeth Greschner

“…an emotional roller coaster…” –Love Books

“…a startingly intense look into the lives of the young teens in present day America!” –Deepak Menon

“This book will catch you right in from the start.” –Peggy

“…a powerful story right from the start.” –Joanne Dore

“I can’t wait for her next book because now I’m hooked!” –Lori Stanley

“I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.” –Denise Buttino Terrell

Available on:

Amazon
(If you buy the paperback on Amazon, you can get the $2.99 Kindle edition for $.99.)

Barnes & Noble
(for paperback & Nook versions)

iTunes
(for iBooks on your Mac or iOS device)

Free review copies are also available. If you’d like to review this book, please contact me for your complimentary copy.

Here is a preview of the first chapter:

CHAPTER ONE
Connecticut, Summer of 1987

There was no blood. I was dead inside, but not bleeding. Zipping my shorts in a daze, I focused on the brown and gold hues of the wall tiles. I washed my hands over the sink, avoiding my reflection. The hexagon-shaped mirror was antique and gilded. I now felt debased in its presence as well as in these familiar surroundings. After turning off the faucet, I stood there for a moment, and then hastened to my room.
The brass bed, dressed in white eyelet sheets and frilly pink bedding, was an update of my choosing. The nativity scene plaque on the wall above it had been there throughout my childhood—Mother Mary in a protective stance over Baby Jesus. I suppose the intention was to comfort and protect me. Still, I lined the bed with stuffed teddy bears and kept a sixteen-inch porcelain doll with golden hair and dark blue eyes on my white dresser. She wore a pink Victorian dress with lace trim and glimmering beads and a hat to match. I picked her up now and held her tightly to my chest. A tear fell as I snuggled her to me for as long as I could. After setting her down, I approached the window.
I could see far from these foothills. A woodlot of mixed forest surrounded our home. In one direction, I saw the Hartford skyline—in another, steep, rolling hills in their divine and blissful glory. My room faced the direction of Old Buckingham, not half a mile away. The ancient cemetery was set back from the road, just beyond a fortress of trees. We heard stories of weeping spirits, distant cries of agony, and diaphanous circles of white light floating above and between the tombstones. I never knew whether people convinced themselves of these things or merely embellished the truth. One thing I knew did happen: Fierce hurricane winds had nearly destroyed the little church on its grounds.
Much as I loved this house, it was an eerie place to grow up. That had little to do with ghost stories. I would lie awake in my bed at night, listening to the sounds of darkness—imagining that the hoarse caw of the crows warned of impending doom. I got this sense of urgency from yapping dogs, yelping coyotes, and the ear-piercing whistles of the woodchucks. Some nights, even the benign chirping of crickets grew louder and more intense with each moment.
I prayed, always.
Watching from the window now, I felt like some reclusive old person who got all the neighbors whispering. I watched for a dusty black Cutlass Supreme, needing to make certain it was nowhere in sight.
The phone rang, and I panicked. My father had mounted it to the wall between my room and the master bedroom, so I had to leave the room to answer it.
“Hello, Danielle,” the voice cooed.
Sickened to my core, I hung up.
It rang again, the innocuous ivory phone that seemed suddenly possessed. I wanted to rip it off the wall.
I lifted the receiver.
“Don’t hang up.” It was the other guy.
“Stop calling here!” I ended the call with a slam.
They had the gall to utter my name! They sounded so casual, so elated—as if the atrocity I had endured earlier that day had been mutually rewarding. Granted, it could have been worse, and yet a part of me had died. More unsettling still, they knew where to find me.

***

Shattering Truths, was originally published in January of 2016 under the title Provenance of Bondage. The re-release has a lot of new material but is a bit shorter than the original, since I decided to cut some of it as well. I’m very happy with the new version, and I think readers will be, too!

***

 

© Copyright January 30, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

Shattering Truths Cover by KH Koehler Design

GOOD PEOPLE DROWNING IN FEAR AND TOXIC SHAME

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I know what it’s like when your mind doesn’t stop – the thoughts, the ideas, the worries, the obsessions. Many people struggle, and I think it’s important to not only acknowledge that, but to share how we have been conquering one battle after another. It tells others they are not alone in their struggles; that things can and do get better.

The shame many of us live with often begins in childhood where we are not able to sort out what is ours to claim and what is not. Ultimately, the combination of what is ours and what we take on as ours can be difficult to bear.

Some people, in the throes of their hidden shame, are afraid to be seen authentically, and maybe even afraid to see others as they are and allow them to shine. The serpent that bedevils us is ego. It is an ongoing effort to keep that sucker reigned in and right-sized.

Shame traps people in a fear of failure/fear of success mindset, two sides of the same coin. The result is the same, more ridicule and shame. Many feel they don’t deserve success, and there are some who pacify themselves believing that others don’t deserve it either.

But we all are all capable of learning from our mistakes, growing, changing, and finding happiness. It depends on whether we heal or not. External validation is  a temporary fix until we resolve things internally. Past turmoil is a boulder we carry everywhere we go. Some hold it up forever while others chip it away, one piece at a time.

We heal when we come to believe we deserve better, and we do. For some, that healing takes a long time and some, sadly, never heal.

But if the process of healing has begun in another, patience is key, as beautifully expressed in this piece by Jeff Brown @ http://soulshaping.com/

“Emotional armor is not easy to shed, nor should it be. It has formed for a reason- as a requirement for certain responsibilities, as a conditioned response to real circumstances, as a defense against unbearable feelings. It has served an essential purpose. It has saved lives. Yet it can be softened over time. It can melt into the tender nest at its core. It can reveal the light at its source. But never rush it, never push up against it, never demand it to drop its guard before its time. Because it knows something you don’t. In a still frightening world, armor is no less valid than vulnerability. Let it shed at its own unique pace.”

We have no idea about anyone else’s pain. We don’t know how hard they’ve tried to bear it. Addiction and obsession will distort perspectives and impair judgment, and addiction and obsession are not simply about narcotics or alcohol. The world we live in and the circumstances of our lives heighten sensitivity, and it all begins when we are too small to comprehend it.

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Some Great Reads:

Toss Your Expectations Into The Ocean

18 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Is

© Copyright August, 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

Featured Photo by John Hain

THAT DEVOTED GIRL SHATTERED BY YOUR TRUTH IS FREE

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I had a dream about you last night and woke up crying. I couldn’t sleep after that.

In the dream, you were angry with me—full of anger, full of hate. You had shut the door on me and left me out in the cold. I kept calling to you with a child’s unbearable anguish. You didn’t hear.

At some point, I cried, “Help me, daddy,” and finally, you came. I thought you were going to hit me or hurt me with your scarred and violent soul, but you didn’t. You hugged me. Well, you didn’t just hug me. You gave me the kind of hug I’d wanted from you since childhood, the comfort I always needed, and I didn’t want to let go.

I miss your smile and your jokes, Dad, your handsome face, and all of your wisdom, but I have to ask. Does a father realize he is the first man a girl gives her heart to completely? The first man she trusts blindly and devotedly? Did you realize?

I used to think I was hard to love.

Whatever people said—men especially—I wanted to believe them. Deep down, I didn’t. Not a word. And every time a man took something from me that I didn’t want him to have, every time a man tried to silence me, belittle me, or make me doubt myself, I punished him, pummeling him with words and crushing him with goodbye. I could be angry with them but not you.

What if things had been different between us, though? Would I had been less vulnerable or had the confidence to be my authentic self, knowing I was worthy and lovable? Would I have chosen more wisely? Would I have stopped running and hiding, oblivious to my weaknesses and my desperate needs? Would I have respected myself more? Might I have found someone I could love, for real? Someone who could have loved me back? Because I didn’t let them … I made sure they couldn’t.

Well, no matter, that’s all changed now. I picked up the shattered pieces of my heart and began to love myself.

It’s hard not to feel that twinge of emotion when I hear father tributes of the heroes who boosted confidence and taught children to believe in themselves. I honestly wish everyone could beam with that pride, feeling safe, content, and protected in that eternal bond.

It’s easy to defeat someone when you have all the power, when you are on a pedestal from the start, and you make all the rules. You can create vulnerability and punish the very same, though you don’t mean it. You can erase one’s humanity because of your denial, your self-loathing, and your shame, though you’re not aware. You can damage a person almost beyond repair. And, after the wrecking ball, cleanup of that wreckage rests solely on those tiny shoulders. Yeah, those shoulders get bigger, but somehow it all gets harder and more complicated.

I cleaned up that mess, though. The void lasts forever, and many people can attest to that, but I got those things I needed. It just takes ongoing effort to hold on to them.

And by the time I had a child of my own, I knew all too well what a child needs. I was able to give him that, but I couldn’t give him YOU. Oh, he’s brilliant and kind and funny, and so very loyal. Like you, he’s hard and strong but with such a tender heart. He needed you, and he still needs you, though he’d never admit it now. He’d been shattered right along with me, but we rose to the challenge, and he loves with his whole heart like I do. I’m proud of him, and I’d like to think you’d be proud of him, too, but it doesn’t matter now.

Look, maybe you didn’t give me what I needed, but you gave what you had. I saw a brave and modest man, generous with assistance and advice—a hero to many, and I know why they love you. I know why I loved you. Sure, it’s easy to love someone when you think they are perfect; when you hold them up on a pedestal and pretend they are everything you need and always wanted. You fell off that pedestal when I was twelve, Dad, but I loved you so much, flaws and all, and I still do. That’s unconditional love, and though you couldn’t give that to me, you still get it. Because guess what? You deserved that, too, from the people who didn’t give it to you.

Yeah, I knew why you were the way you were, though you accepted no excuses from me when I fell short. You could never understand me, but I understood you. Though you couldn’t hear me, yours was the loudest voice I’d heard in my entire life—a voice that continued to bellow in my ear for a lifetime. It kept me from standing up. It kept me from fighting, and it kept me from winning until I did all those things because I couldn’t lose any more. I climbed in spite of you, because of you and for you, because you couldn’t do it yourself, and I understand that.

When you were angry, devastated, and tortured, I tried to tell you it would be okay, that I was sorry for you, and that I loved you, but it seemed too much for you to bear at the time. Then, in the end, I forgave you, and you forgave me. It took a lifetime, but we got there.

Sigh. There are many things we never got to do, Dad, and it’s too late now. You’re gone. But I do have some fond memories of you that I will cherish always.

And here’s what I wish.

I wish I could go back in time with you—to those boyhood days when you were punished severely for no good reason—when you were invalidated, shamed, ridiculed, and ignored, just to tell you how awesome you were, and all you could be and do with your life. I’d say I believe in you, and that you have everything you need to succeed. I would say over and over that I love you to the moon and back, so you would know how worthy you are of that love. And maybe you would have grown up to be what you wanted, and have felt no shame. Then when it was your turn, you could have done the same. You would have known I was not an extension of you and didn’t have to represent you or your ideals. Perhaps you would not have expected such a conformist “go with the flow” type of kid who didn’t make waves but sang to a song you couldn’t possibly hear. You would not have lost empathy. You wouldn’t have cared how others saw me or what they would think. You’d have simply treasured me for the person I am. Imagine that!

The aching in my heart is that I want that for everyone. I wish all men and women who didn’t get what they needed as children would give that and get it back in abundance however they can. And I’m infinitely grateful to every hardworking mom and dad who gets up every day ready and willing to get it all right, including you.

Rest easy, Dad, and know you will always be in my heart.

“Children are the most fearless souls on earth.”― Lailah Gifty Akita, Think Great: Be Great!

Further Reading:

10 Ways Strong Women Move Past Their ‘Daddy Issues’

Why Dads Matter — Especially to Girls

*****

Featured photo at beginning of blog by Fritz Zuber-Buhler

© Copyright May 31, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

SHE STOOD ALONE ON THE EDGE OF DARKNESS

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Through forests of emerald-green bliss,
She pranced,
Embracing the colors of endless play—
The rainbows of summer.
She was a child of the earth.

Her tiny voice sang,
And she danced!
No danger lurked in her twinkling eyes.
Everything in her fearless laughter
Was colored with mirth.

She built castles on the shore
By a peaceful and provident sea
That was never foreboding.
She skipped beneath the golden clouds
Like the world belonged to her,
As if there were no cares
And all who loved her
Would keep her safe.

“Do not lose her,” I said.
“Do not lose that child.
She needs you so desperately.”

And then she had this grave fear of the sea,
This somber foreboding.
It seemed so vast and so deep
From the shore,
A leviathan-green, hellish monstrosity
Full of strange creatures that devoured things.
It was all that lay between her
And some faraway place
On the other side of the globe.

Somehow, it was not so frightening now.
Neither was the past,
The present,
Or all the future obscurities—
Not even those people she once had cherished.

The peace of the waters subdued her now,
As she listened to the thrash of the waves.
She was just playing with a stick in the sand.

There was a noted ambiguity
Whenever she spoke of this place.
Certain moments when she embraced the glorious light
And gazed intently into the darkness.
There were moments, too,
When she felt it creep and crawl around her,
When she ached and trembled,
Longing to free herself from its grip.

While seething within,
She wore the mask of kindness,
Harmless and alluring,
With resentment like hemlock,
Beautiful yet wilting,
Glowing yet tarnished,
Beckoning,
Flourishing,
Standing tall,
And unyielding…
Toxic to all
In her flowering beauty.

The sun was setting,
Salmon clouds under a sky of dodger blue,
Flocks of geese
On a sprawling lawn.
A waxing gibbous moon
Beckoned
Like she needed a guide,
A divine light.

“Come forth,” it said.
“Come home.”
And some of the fear waned
As she went forth,
But nothing really changed.

She stood alone on the edge,
In darkness,
A faint silhouette
Gazing at the night sky.
Rain fell,
A sprinkler to the trees
Thrashing in the wind.

She would flee,
Abandoning places,
Suddenly unrecognizable faces.
The glowing sun of Helios
Was a beacon
For eternal bliss,
Yet deceiving.

The caves beckoned.
Every corner,
Every crevice,
Held its own mystery,
Its truth.

Still the perilous journey
Was madness—
Pretty colors and then
Darkness.
It seemed to have no end.

She heard a child crying,
A child from long ago,
A prisoner of her soul.

Stone walls around her,
Hissing sounds,
Deep, treacherous waters—
Her mind was a fractured maze.
No one could see.
No one could hear.
No safe place to run,
She had to find the way
Out…
Home…

Every stone that healed
Brought her closer to
The truth,
The light.

The climb was steep,
But she held on,
Clawing her way
In blindness,
Accepting,
Facing,
Grieving.

Raindrops glistened on the rocks.
Flower petals littered
The wet grass.
She saw vibrant orchids
In the fading light of the moon,
And, alas,
Tranquil waters glistened
Aqua blue.

Like the ancient alchemical goddess,
She was crowned—
A newborn only beginning
To awaken,
Beginning to see,
Her soul bursting
With bliss.

The beauty within
Became the beauty
Eyes could see,
Not perfection—
Courage, perhaps…
Determination,
Defiance,
And love.

She was free.
No jewel could sparkle with
More radiance,
And the years could not tarnish its shine.

From Remnants of Severed Chains © Copyright October 17, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

WINNING THE SELF-SABOTAGE BATTLE WITH SELF-LOVE

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We all become conscious, at some point in our lives, of ways we can sabotage our physical well-beings.

When it comes to sabotaging our emotional well-beings, and even our financial security and stability, things seem to become more complicated.

Brilliant individuals are sometimes incapable of motivating themselves enough to change their lives or gravitate toward the ideal. They tend to become problem-oriented rather than solution oriented, boxing themselves in with an almost unwillingness to compromise. They may set impossible goals instead of practical ones.

Maybe someone convinced them they didn’t deserve success, or they convinced themselves based on how someone made them feel about their competency or their judgment. Either way, these old tapes keep playing in their heads, telling them they’re not worth much if they’re worth anything at all, that they can’t accomplish, can’t succeed, can’t win, and there’s not enough to go around. In this predicament, we fear success as much as we fear failure, because they are two sides of the same coin. We keep that coin as a reminder that we don’t trust ourselves with the dreams we cherish or the plans we’ve made.

We tell ourselves we don’t deserve success any more than we deserve money. Perhaps once we get our hands on the latter, we don’t manage it well. I’ve been there. I can attest to the fact that when you finally realize you do deserve these things, you’ll likely find yourself working your tail off, accomplishing one goal after another, building good credit along with a nice little nest egg. We have to be rid of whatever that little voice is in our head that says we can’t do it, and we’re not good enough, and that all this is impossible. We can, we are, and it’s not.

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We get into this pattern of self-pitying victimhood. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that we’ve been a victim of something or someone, or expressing anger about it, and shedding tears. We have a right to our grieving process. But sometimes we get use to the payoff—attention, pity, praise, the temporary ego fix. So instead of becoming solution oriented, we become more and more problem oriented, more and more likely to want an audience of sympathizers. And we get stuck there because solving problems would take that attention away and whatever else we get from being constantly burdened. It’s not that we don’t deserve to be comforted. It’s that we don’t move forward. We don’t get better.

This pattern normally goes hand in hand with excessive worry about people and things. Social media is a perfect example, because it mirrors life. I have seen people in a pattern of deactivating accounts only to resurface in a matter of days. Sometimes it may be that they legitimately need a break, but very often it’s because expectations are not being met. People are not responding to them in a way they could perceive as favorable. They’ve made assumptions about what people think or what someone meant, and after a considerable amount of time wasted on obsessive worrying, they take a drastic action to disengage. When they come back, it’s because they need to try it all again. They have too much riding on acceptance. It’s all self-defeating because we create unrealistic expectations, and we tend to assume wrong. Comparing and assuming tends to cause more mental anguish than is warranted or bearable. All we can do is be who we are, our ever-improving version of that.

Many stress about their looks, their bodies. Perfect is boring, and there is beauty beyond someone else’s chosen ideal. Beauty does, indeed, come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, and people will have all sorts of opinions on what looks good.  In fact, I realized at one point, that I never cared if someone didn’t like the hair color I chose. I knew how I wanted to look. I would never consult anyone about it, not even my significant other. So if we are trying to satisfy ourselves rather than appeal to every single person on the planet, we should set the standards for ourselves not appease clothing designers, the model industry, or the men who rate women on AskMen.com. Because when we’re finally okay with how we look, imperfections and all, we exude the confidence we need to get oh just about anything. And if that’s not enough, we get to focus more on being the best human we can be. When we finally love who we are, we learn to respect ourselves and treat ourselves better.

While it’s normal to want attention and approval, it’s the excessive, almost desperate need for it that can destroy us if we let it. People take unnecessary risks for the fix without realizing. They may trust the wrong people, throw caution to the wind, make excuses for bad behavior, cling to people who have repeatedly demonstrated the harm they’re capable of inflicting upon others. We don’t even realize that the payoff is attention we craved, validation we needed, admiration we couldn’t resist. Because it comes at just the right time, and creates such a bondage that we continue to crave it from a dangerous source.

Sometimes it’s less extreme. We try to be generous with people regarding our time, our attention, our praise, but we do this with relationships we don’t honestly want to nurture because we want to be nice. I find that when people want to be nice or perceived as nice, they immediately have expectations and create obligations. Then, on top of the resentment about doing something they don’t want to do, and the expectations or obligation that likely won’t be met, they go from ‘nice’ person to fire-breathing dragon in a matter of seconds. So what happens next is far from what they initially intended. People get hurt.

Well, it’s okay not to want to be friends with everyone. It’s okay to feel emotionally exhausted and want to have only genuine relationships. It’s okay to walk away when you’re not feeling it, not trusting it. It’s okay to save that overflowing generosity of spirit for those who matter to you. You can still do nice things for others along the way if you want. Quite simply, it doesn’t have to be like wearing a thorny crown while carrying a cross over your back.

I’ll say this. The more I become aware of how people think (thanks to social media), I tend not to want to meet any more people or reconnect with people from the past. I’m happy to avoid everyone outside my window… even while loving to hear them all out there—the comforting humdrum. Isolating can be a peaceful, healing thing, but it can also be another way of self-sabotaging if we don’t check it. I’ll admit, I have to push myself to get out there and deal with the world as it is, on its terms. Whether I like it or not, it’s necessary. I’ve had to accept that I’m not always going to be comfortable, and I’m not always going to be safe.

Still, we do have to take our time getting to know people, especially when we are very empathetic. Because while we can recognize serious issues people have, our compassion for what they’re dealing with can override any need to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, we have to because these people can hurt you and will do so again and again. We need to pay attention. We need to be careful. We have to stop tolerating disrespect under the guise of being noble and humble. That only creates a perception of some superior self that is false. Yeah, we want to be the nice guy, but if we are real with others, we become something better than ‘nice’. We are kind.

I’ve come to believe that one of the best things we can do in life is heal the vulnerabilities that make us susceptible to all this self-sabotage. Once we find the courage to seek answers, then acknowledge, accept, feel, cry and release anger, we heal, we learn, and then we grow and evolve. It’s an ongoing thing that just keeps getting better. We deserve that.

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Of course, life would be so much easier if we could make a habit of staying in the moment and being fully present in that moment. We wouldn’t be worrying about what happened yesterday or an hour ago, or what’s going to happen tomorrow. I have to remind myself constantly, but it works particularly well in moments of crisis and panic. A wise friend taught me to stay in the solution. Think about what you can do at that moment, not what you can’t do. Control what you can. Amazing how that helps.

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“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

 

Healing Shame by Robert D. Caldwell, M.Div.

 

Feature photo by Bùi Linh Ngân

© Copyright March 4, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

BATTLE FOR SANITY – THE LIES THAT SAVE YOU

 

Anxiety was a tiny flower that grew in the deep shade of my childhood’s fairy tale garden. As it curled open, its petals were an exploding snap of OCD, situational panic disorder, and slight claustrophobia/agoraphobia. I also exhibited signs of Asperger’s and, by my late teens, had developed BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder) which peaked in the decade that followed.

I’ve read that people with BDD see themselves as ugly and obsess over perceived defects. As far as I’m concerned, that’s too broad. Since BDD is an obsession, it is an addiction, which means your perception concerning this issue remains distorted, and your judgment is impaired. It’s an ongoing narcissistic conflict of hating/loving oneself and disguising inferiority with superiority. You do convince yourself you are beautiful sometimes. Other times, you believe you are hideous, and it is all a distorted mess. Almost everywhere you turn, you come face to face with twisted, seemingly demonic mirrors that have no mercy.

Well-meaning compliments from others are great, but they don’t stick. I mean, people would tell me I should be a model. The funny thing about people is, they will admire something about you and say you should be this or do that. Then when you become that thing, it’s like, who do you think you are, and why do you think you’re good enough to do that? It becomes another source of rejection and shame.

Anyway, the preoccupation I had with body image led to excessive grooming. I wouldn’t even answer the door if I wasn’t wearing make-up. Without realizing, I had set an impossible standard for myself that didn’t apply to others— as though I were somehow superior. It was an inferiority complex turned inside out—two sides of the same coin. Then, after all the effort exerted in trying to look perfect, I didn’t necessarily have fun. I worried about how I looked. I made several trips to the restroom to check myself in the mirror.

Of course, I gave a lot of thought to how all this developed. Sure, in my life, there was trauma and emotional conflict, plenty of that. There seemed to be an unusual amount of criticism directed at me, including the plain silliness of other kids taunting, laughing. It would make sense that I’d want, at least, the delusion of control over everything. But it went deeper than that. I had a few narcissistic abusers that were a constant presence in my life. Narcissism develops over time in response to narcissistic abuse. You learn to hate yourself until you can create the ‘false’ self that you believe is more acceptable. Sometimes you create strategies that help you cope and enable you to survive until you no longer need them.

Awareness and acceptance helps. For me, it’s always been, oh, I didn’t realize that was an issue, but since it is, I’ll fix it. It takes time and requires ongoing maintenance, but I do feel, in the general sense, we are bigger than the obstacles that derail us, and we have much more power than we realize. I’m not talking about chemical imbalances or illnesses beyond anyone’s control. I’m talking about things that were only beyond my control when I didn’t understand them.

Hey, I grew up with people saying, oh you’re a Scorpio, you hold grudges. You can’t forgive. At first, I thought this was a free pass to punish everyone with mad vindictiveness. Then it occurred to me, I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t have to be anything I didn’t want to be. And today, I am ridiculously forgiving. People close to me find it mind-boggling. It’s nothing heroic. As long as we have empathy for others, we can rise above what weighs us down. Once you get to that point where you can no longer feel empathy, there is little hope for change.

Today, the constant need I had for reassurance and validation has dissipated along with uncontrollable urges to solicit compliments from others. I can go to lunch or dinner with someone and never leave the table. If I do, it’s strictly business. I may glance in the mirror while washing my hands, but I’m back at the table within five minutes. I’m able to stay in the moment, present for every precious exchange. I love, too, that I can run all over town without makeup. People seem just as attracted and accepting, but the important thing is, it doesn’t matter if they like it or not. I’ve managed to become authentic, and that’s everything to me! People who have always been authentic may sneer at that. Honestly, some people don’t want to understand, and that’s their problem. As an aside, I do still hate posting photos of myself. Praise triggers an uncomfortable reminder of needing validation in the past, being in bondage. It feels awkward. There is still the part of me, too, that hates any representation of me, so I haven’t been able to disconnect entirely from that obsession, but I’m working on it.

You know, most people dealing with this won’t talk about it, at least not publicly. Why would they? It’s another shameful thing. People all over the world are in far worse circumstances, and we seem preoccupied with the most ridiculous of the ridiculous. In part, that may be true, but the underlying fear is that you will never be loved for who are, which equates to you will never be loved, period. That seems to be one of the things people fear most in life, almost a fate worse than death, and many young people out there are killing themselves for that. So while I may be alright, there are many out there who have no idea how they’ll make it through another day. Whatever we can do to help them toward the light in the darkness can mean the difference between giving up and holding on.

 

Dr. Phil’s Ten Life Laws
Understanding Anxiety-Related Illnesses
Body Dysmorphic Foundation
Body Dysmorphic Self-Test

 

 

© Copyright January 24, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

SPOTLIGHT: PAUL J. HOFFMAN

Paul Joseph Hoffman is a journalist and author who was born in Madison, Wisconsin.

He was raised in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. He is a 1981 graduate of Wauwatosa East High School and attended both the University of Wisconsin – Madison and the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, graduating from Milwaukee with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications (Radio/TV sequence) and a minor in English.

He is a career journalist, working as a sports writer at the Milwaukee Sentinel; assistant sports editor at Pioneer Press, a chain of weekly newspapers in suburban Chicago; sports editor and news editor at The Shelbyville News in Shelbyville, Indiana; news editor at The Republic in Columbus, Indiana; and his current position, special publications editor at the Daily Journal in Franklin, Indiana, since 2001.

His first book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher,” was published by The History Press in 2012. It is the true story of the disappearance of an 8-year-old boy in 1925.

He lives in Columbus, Indiana with his wife, Kimberly, and has a son, three daughters, two stepdaughters, and one granddaughter.

Book Summary (provided by Paul J. Hoffman)

August 2015 marked the 90th anniversary of one of the few unsolved murders committed in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, the killing of 8-year-old Arthur “Buddy” Schumacher Jr., son of a pharmaceutical supply salesman and grandson of one of the city’s key leaders in the early 20th century.

He was reportedly last seen by three friends after they hopped off a freight they’d hopped on to get a ride to a nearby swimming hole.

For seven weeks, the community and state searched desperately to find the boy before his body was found just a mile from his house with his clothing torn and a handkerchief shoved down his throat. It wasn’t long before police had what they thought was a sure case against a man who was living in a hobo camp near where the boy went missing. However, they were forced to let him go after witnesses changed their minds about key pieces of evidence against him.

A man who was serving a life sentence in Minnesota for the killing of a young boy there, later confessed to killing Buddy Schumacher. But police wavered in whether to believe him or not.

Nobody has ever stood trial for killing Buddy Schumacher.

My book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher,” that was published by The History Press in June 2012, discusses the reasons nobody was ever charged with the crime, as well as going into the background of main suspects, the Schumacher family and other key people involved in the investigation.

But it is much more than just a book about a murder. The book also hits subjects that touched this story, such as the state of mental health care during that time, homelessness, Prohibition and the forensic tools investigators had available to them. The book also shines a light on the good that came out of this tragedy and also raises several questions that have never been answered.

My Interview with Paul J. Hoffman

KYRIAN: Paul, why should people read this book?

PAUL: The themes presented in this book transcend time and place. The book discusses how a family attempts to deal with tragedy; how a small community is affected by the socio-economic trends that surround it; how to keep young children safe; what to do with the mentally challenged; and how some bit of good can eventually come from such a
horrendous act.

KYRIAN: What are you working on at the moment?

PAUL: I am in the beginning stages of writing a screenplay based on “Murder in Wauwatosa.” Progress has slowed due to things that have come up in life. I hadn’t really considered writing more true crime books; I wrote this one because I had to … the incident had been bouncing around in the back of my brain for 35 years or so, and it had to come out. But I’ve recently been asked if I would write a book about true crimes in the area where I live, so I may take that offer. I would also like to publish a book of poetry since I started writing some of that again recently.

KYRIAN: What actor/actresses would you like to star in a movie based on the book?

PAUL: I always envisioned John Cusack playing the role of the father whose boy was murdered. He seems to have the type of personality that would carry over to that character and I have always admired his work. I hadn’t really thought too much about the rest of the cast. I also have the highest regard for Shawn Franklin, an actor I’ve seen in many local plays. He has the right skill set to play Art Schumacher, too.

KYRIAN: What are your ambitions for your writing career?

PAUL: I take this career a step at a time since it’s my secondary career for now. I make plans, but sometimes those plans get sidetracked, so I make new plans. Who knows what will eventually happen. I’ve been working as a journalist for the past 30 years, the past 15 as the editor of several specialty magazines, and I am not ready to give up the steady income.

KYRIAN: Which writers inspire you?

PAUL: Most of the writers who inspire me are those I personally know. Understanding their backgrounds and some of their daily struggles and triumphs makes their work even more special to me. Some of them are journalists, some authors, some poets. Among them are Dale Hofmann, Michael John Sullivan, Bobby Tanzilo, Ron Collins, Wendy Stenzel Oleston, and Matthew D. Jackson.

I enjoy reading various genres, and I pick up whatever interests me at a particular moment. So, there are not a lot of authors whose works I have really studied a lot. I also read the Dilbert comic strip every day. I must experience humor at least once every 24 hours.

KYRIAN: What is your biggest regret and why?

PAUL: I suppose there are many things I wished I had done differently in life. But if I really go back and study those poor decisions, I recall the circumstances that led up to them and the lessons I learned from them. Doing that gives me a better understanding of how I can help people going through similar circumstances make better choices than I did. Sometimes, even when you make the best decision possible, people can get hurt; that can’t be helped. It’s when you make a poor decision, and someone gets hurt because of it, that really stings.

KYRIAN: What is your greatest fear?

PAUL: That I haven’t made it clear enough to my children what I stand for. I’ve tried to let actions speak louder than words. But sometimes, you don’t run into situations where your children will see you model what is in your heart. There are times we need to tell them what we believe in, how we feel about certain things. They will at some point make up their own minds about all that surrounds them, but I think they need to know where their parents stand on a lot of issues, especially as they get older.

KYRIAN: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?

PAUL: Of all the places I have never been that I want to see, Hawaii tops the list. I love visiting my home state of Wisconsin, and anywhere my wife is works, too.

KYRIAN: Who are your heroes in life?

PAUL: My father, Ray Hoffman, has been someone whose unstated goal seems to have been “be a better person today than you were yesterday.” I can’t think of a better compliment to pay anyone than this. A former boss of mine, Bill Windler, taught me a lot about respecting everyone around me as well as several other life lessons. I also respect those who give of themselves and expect nothing in return.

KYRIAN: Tell me about your proudest achievement and why it was so gratifying?

PAUL: I am never prouder than when my children make good choices, put their all into accomplishing something worthwhile and are honest about their mistakes. I like to think I have had at least a little to do with them demonstrating those qualities, for the most part (nobody is perfect). A lot of people have told me that I’ve been a good father, although I’m fairly hard on myself and see a lot of instances where I could have done better. To have people tell you how kind, respectful and well-behaved your children are … there is no better“achievement” in the world.

Click here to read  Paul’s personal story of abuse and recovery.

Connect with Paul on social media:

Paul J. Hoffman Author website

Paul J. Hoffman Facebook page

Paul J. Hoffman on Twitter

Email: phof63@sbcglobal.net

 

ONE DAY MIGHT MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD

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Way before my parenting days, I had only one reason for never giving up. It was the simple fact that one moment or one day could change everything. In the toughest times, I never forgot that. As long as I could take a breath, there was hope.

It often happens too, that after much worry and upset, after coming to the most catastrophic conclusions, everything turns out okay. Either that or we realize we were mistaken or had misunderstood. Still we probably had a horrible day or a horrible week. Maybe the whole weekend was horrible because of how we felt. We had wasted time and energy and for nothing, a time we would never get back. We could have been making precious memories instead.

These had been great reminders throughout my life, always helping me to bounce back, but how do we get to such a place? I recently stumbled upon this wonderful article by writer and motivational speaker, James Nussbaumer:

Wealth and Abundance is Rightfully Yours

The James Nussbaumer piece is also another take on staying in the moment, and as important as it is, no matter how many times we’ve heard it, it’s so easy to forget. Egos get in the way. Attitudes get in the way. We let everything get in the way.

Another beautiful gift we have, however, is the ongoing ability to change our perspective any time we want.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.” -Charles Swindoll

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© Copyright July 7, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

GUEST POST: RACHEL THOMPSON

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It is a delightful honor to present this guest post from author and activist, Rachel Thompson (pictured above). I got to know this phenomenal lady when we began following one another on Twitter. She was a guest on my radio show back in January, discussing the #nomoreshame project along with Bobbi Parish and Athena Moberg. Rachel  writes beautiful prose from the heart with refreshing honesty. Here, she discusses her latest book, Broken Places, and why someone who hasn’t had similar experiences, should read it.

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Book Summary:

Award-winning author Rachel Thompson courageously confronts the topics of sexual abuse and suicide, love and healing, in her second nonfiction book of prose: Broken Places. The sequel to Rachel’s first nonfiction book, Broken Pieces, Rachel bares her soul in essays, poems and prose, addressing life’s most difficult topics with honesty. As you follow one woman’s journey through the dark and into the light, you will find yourself forever changed. Rachel’s first book in this series, Broken Pieces, has been a #1 best seller on Amazon (eBooks) on Women’s Poetry and Abuse. Please note: this book discusses serious topics, and is intended for mature audiences only.

AWARDS

  • IndieReader Approved

Indie

 

 

 

PRAISE FOR BROKEN PLACES:

“BROKEN PLACES succeeds as the gritty memoir of a woman who was sexually assaulted when she was young and the author’s story of survival will surprise the reader because of its candidness and unexpected ending.”
~IndieReader

WHY SHOULD SOMEONE WHO HASN’T HAD SIMILAR EXPERIENCES READ THE BOOK?

by Rachel Thompson

Thank you for hosting me, Kyrian.

One of the reasons I wrote Broken Pieces, and the newly released Broken Places, is to give people an idea of the aftermath of living with childhood sexual abuse in an emotional, almost lyrical way. Poetic, really, as opposed to clinical. A personal view.

The books deal with my own experiences, but there are universal truths that many people, particularly women, are familiar with: depression, anxiety, PTSD, and how it all merges to affect my life now as a woman in all my many roles, in both positive and negative ways.

I’d like to say that it’s not something many people will experience, but sadly the statistics refute me, as one in three girls under the age of eighteen will be sexually abused, and of those, 90% will know their abuser; one in six boys will experience the same. And that’s just what is reported! (Source: RAINN.org)

The question many people ask me, if they haven’t been abused, is if writing about dealing with these tough subjects is cathartic, and the answer is: yes and no. Yes, because the response has been amazing – connecting with other survivors, starting the weekly Twitter #SexAbuseChat (Tuesdays at 6pm PST) with therapist/survivor Bobbi Parish is especially rewarding, as is co-creating the #NoMoreShame Project Anthology with Bobbi and survivor/life coach Athena Moberg (published later this year by Booktrope).

No, because it doesn’t change what happened. Despite having dealt with much of the feelings of shame involved (I was eleven when the abuse occurred), I still deal with nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety and depression. Writing about it doesn’t change the past, but what it does do is help others understand that survivors aren’t whining or using our experience as an excuse in life’s difficult moments.

Being a voice is crucial to me, so survivors and non-survivors alike will understand with compassion what so many women experience. Broken Pieces has won many awards and hit #1 on several Amazon lists. Broken Places has already hit #1 Women Authors and Poetry – I’m quite excited by the reception and the wonderful reviews. I hope your readers will be, too!

Thanks for having me, today.

*********

Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released Broken Places and the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. For affordable group sessions check outAuthor Social Media Boot Camp, monthly sessions to help all authors! Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington PostThe San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly.

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and the live Twitter chat, #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish.

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Broken Places:

Title: Broken Places

Genre/Keywords: Non-fiction
Length: 124 pages
Extras: Authorgraph
Publisher: ebook: Booktrope * print: Booktrope Editions
Release date: ebook: January 13, 2015 * print: January 12, 2015
ISBN-10: 162015689X
ISBN-13: 978-1620156896
ASIN: B00S7R7BWI
Purchase: Amazon

Author Contact Information:

Website: rachelintheoc.com
Twitter: @RachelintheOC
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRachelThompson
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+RachelThompson/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/rachelintheoc/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/rachel-thompson/24/784/b95
Goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4619475.Rachel_Thompson
Author Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/j9oaH

It was a pleasure to host you on your book tour, Rachel. Best of luck to you in your new book journey!