April 23, 2015

Overwhelmed and Grateful

Feeling overwhelmed and grateful

“And so I cry sometimes when I’m lying in bed, just to get it all out, what’s in my head, and I am feeling a little peculiar. So I wake in the morning and I step outside and I take a deep breath and I get real high and I scream at the top of my lungs, what’s going on?”

4 Non Blondes


There are times these days when I feel overwhelmed.

You know the days…you feel that you can’t do one more thing. And then that one more thing comes around. And you do it, but you feel that you can’t do one more thing…

What do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed?

Do you set good boundaries and do what you have to do – for yourself?

I saw my father for the first time in 15 years recently. That was a good thing. I was ready. We’ve been in contact by email since I saw him.  It feels like strangers getting to know each other and as I write this I just realized why it feels that way. It’s because I’m a completely different person than the one I was, the one he knew. He’s getting to know the adult, confident me.  As for him being a stranger – I’m getting to know him not as I used to see him – the omnipotent man with the power to turn me into the frightened, shy little girl I once was, but through eyes that see him as just a man, a man who also has a frightened child inside of him, who is perhaps a little broken like so many of us.

Around the time I saw my father, I saw my half-sister for the first time in 40 years.  A couple of days after I saw her, she phoned me, yelled at me, then stopped any contact with me. Here’s that story  It was because I ‘disobeyed’ her and wrote to her sister (my other half-sister). She had emphatically told me not to.  All I wanted was the last name of her (the other half-sister’s) boyfriend. The one who raped me when I was around 8. That whole situation raised so many questions for me and left me feeling raw.

At the same time, my mother had to have a 6-hour very serious surgery.

I was beginning to get this what’s going on kind of feeling.



“Twenty five years and my life is still, trying to get up that great big hill of hope, for a destination. And I realized quickly when I knew I should, that the world was made up of this brotherhood of man, for whatever that means. And so I cry sometimes when I’m lying in bed, just to get it all out what’s in my head and I’m feeling a little peculiar. And so I wake in the morning and I step outside and I take a deep breath and I get real high and I scream at the top of my lungs, what’s going on? And I try, oh my God do I try, I try all the time in this institution. And I pray, oh my God do I pray, I pray every single day for a revolution. And so I cry sometimes when I’m lying in bed, just to get it all out what’s in my head and I am feeling a little peculiar. And so I wake in the morning and I step outside and I take a deep breath and I get real high and I scream at the top of my lungs, what’s going on?”

4 Non Blondes


While I was in that completely fragile state, I thought, why not just take things to the limit, right?

I had two sexual abusers when I was a little girl. The one, as I’ve mentioned, I’m trying to find.

Around the time all of this was going on, I found the phone number to my other perpetrator.

I phoned him.

The first thing he said…’oh, sweetie, you sound like you’re all grown up’. Well, yeah, I’m 52-years-old.

I hated his syrupy old man voice.

He was quiet for a minute after I confronted him. Then he said he didn’t remember doing anything like I said he did.

But wait a minute, he did remember grabbing my leg once when I was in bed.

He said he was trying to scare me, and he felt terrible because I was so frightened.

What a liar.

My mom was there when I called him. She spoke to him too. He was her boyfriend when I was a little girl.

I’m working through some serious feelings about that too.

Some other things happened as well around that time, but they are stories for others to tell, not me.  They do, however, bring up a well of emotion for me, including sorrow and guilt.

So what do you do when you feel fragile and overwhelmed? When you know what would help, but you can’t take that first step because, well, because how do you start?

And the feeling of being overwhelmed just gets worse knowing how much you should be doing.  (Kathleen, I know, I know, I shouldn’t should on myself!)

I should meditate, exercise, journal, write letters and burn them, comfort the little girl inside me, find a private enough place to scream out my rage, read books about healing, work on forgiving myself, think about my parts and how they relate to each other, and so many other things.

Thank goodness while all this was going on I had a support group – Ginny, Terry, Nancy and Kathleen, my girlfriends who listened while I talked it out, who are brutally, lovingly honest with me, who were there for me when I needed them.  My husband John – who has stood by me just like he always said he would. My mother-in-law, who really does love me like a daughter.  My sister – who was there through all of it, both this time and that time.  And my therapist Stella.

All family to me, family of origin and family of choice.

And as I write this the feelings of it all being too much, of feeling overwhelmed are replaced with gratitude, and deep love.

I won’t break. I won’t even come close to breaking.


Stella said this to me the other day…

Take 10 minutes a day.

That’s all.

10 minutes a day.

I can do that.

I can quiet my mind for 10 minutes and see what comes up.

I can spend 10 minutes on getting my anger out, whether it’s in writing, screaming, or beating something soft.

I can spend 10 minutes and walk to the beach.

10 minutes is do-able.

That was about a week ago.

And I’ve done it. I’ve spent 10 minutes a day on me.


A couple of days ago I found the information I was looking for – my rapist’s full name – sent to me by my father and step-mother. He’d gone to their wedding all those years ago and had signed the register.

They’d dug through old boxes and papers to find it for me. Even though I said don’t worry about it.

They worried about it.

Talk about validation.

I looked him up on the national sex offender registries, fully expecting to find him there.

I didn’t. I feel so raw and disappointed about that.


I still feel overwhelmed.

But I feel grateful too.

I see how it’s possible to feel stressed and happy, experience triggers yet feel joy, and be overwhelmed and grateful all at once.

I have the love of people in my life who are important.

And I’m taking time every day for myself.










8 thoughts on “Overwhelmed and Grateful

  1. Margie Wilson

    Gosh, what a strong woman you have become. You are an inspiration to many young women who are going through the same sort of trauma as you once had. Blessings to you and thank you to all those who have supproted you through your dark times.

    1. Deborah

      Thank you Margie. It’s so nice to think I might be inspiring other survivors. You may not know it, but you also have supported me through my dark times, and also in the light! Love, Debbie

  2. Lisa Marie Hearndon

    Please don’t feel sorrow or guilt, you were not the abuser , you had no idea what was going on .
    Overwhelmed and exposed to all of the hurt is what goes on in my head everyday , but I will try the 10 minute time to clear my head once everyday :)))) I love you my sister with all of my heart

    1. Deborah

      Lisa, I love you too, and because I do I feel sorrow and guilt. I’m your big sister. I’m supposed to protect you. Also, because I know first-hand what a survivor goes through, I can’t help but to feel sad. But something else I know is that I don’t call us survivors for no reason. We’re survivors in every sense of the word. We’re warrior women! :) I’m so proud of you. About 90% of survivors don’t tell as children. Most of those NEVER tell – ever. Since I’ve “come out”, I’ve felt that I’ve helped others come out – they learn that they are not alone. And you too will help others. I just know it. I love you Lis.

  3. SueAnn Land

    Deborah, I remember when my father handed me the picture that confirmed my grandfather’s abuse to me. I was so grateful and *free* of the wondering. Your family must love you very much, indeed, to have gone through the old boxes and papers. I love you, too. I’m so very grateful and proud to have you as my fellow survivor and friend.

    1. Deborah

      SueAnn, I remember the moment when I read a small part in your book ‘The Truth About Whales” that hinted at your grandfather’s abuse. I know what you mean – you were grateful and free of the wondering. Sometimes it’s the questions that keep us imprisoned. I love you too SueAnn. You’re an inspiration.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: