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 youíll 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.”
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.
Iíve 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 itís true you get to write your own story, a little help finding your voice and the right (magic) words can make all the difference.
Thatís why Iím 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!