From Surviving to Thriving on the Journey to Wholeness

Darlene Ouimet CTACC

I am so excited to have been invited to be a contributor to this amazing network.  As a result of sexual abuse, I developed dissociated identity disorder and started to have serious depressions by the age of ten. I was struggling with an eating disorder, drug addiction and alcohol dependency by the age of 16.  I found some help for addictions when I was 23 and managed to get married and have 3 children but the dissociative identity and depressions got worse as the kids started to grow.

Feeling worthless and giving up all hope I started to make plans to leave my husband and 3 young children. I confided in my friend who convinced me to try therapy one more time.  I had nothing to lose this time and I didn’t hold back anything in my sessions. My therapist used a model of causal therapy; looking at the roots of the trauma and how my belief system was full of false things I believed were truth. The details of my life came out and through the process of recovery I realized that many things in my life had contributed to the serious problems I was having. I believed hundreds of lies that were fed to me and the therapy process became one of realizing what those lies were, where they were born and then replacing them with the truth.  I got stronger and began to see light at the end of the tunnel. In the end it was the truth that set me free and I got my life and my identity back.

I made a complete recovery from dissociated identity (including multiple personality disorder) and chronic depressions. I went back to school and got my certification in life coaching with a specialty in relationships. I developed a passion to share my process.  I was invited to be a regular inspirational speaker at mental health seminars accepted an invitation to join that counseling firm as the Director of Client Relations.

Today as a mental health advocate, what I bring to the community of survivors of any kind of abuse or mental health struggle is a message of hope and a new way of looking at the past in order to move forward. Realizing the impact I was having on clients at the seminars that I was speaking at, I decided to increase my reach, and start sharing my story and recovery on the internet. My blog “Emerging from Broken” has quickly become popular in the survivor community.  My co-author Carla Dippel and I offer unique insights and have a way of cutting through the false beliefs that victims of abuse hold deeply in their hearts inspiring healing and hope for wholeness.

I look forward to meeting you and to sharing recovery on the journey to wholeness.

Darlene Ouimet

Treating Trauma from a MIND/BODY perspective

Treating trauma from a mind/body perspective is the key to unfolding the process of the traumatic effects of sexual and emotional abuse. Current research in neurobiology point to the physiological connection between how emotional affects increase arousal in the body which then in turn create physical issues like chronic tension and other ailments like autoimmune disorders.

Since there is evidence that both mind (what we think) and body (what we feel) are in fact scientifically connected, we know that to treat trauma both mind and body must be addressed. However, even though this is true, only some are able to get this kind of treatment either because of lack of knowledge about its availability or simply because it just doesn’t exist.

That is where I come in. My mission in this lifetime is to bring this treatment to each of you in a way that you can use it to empower and heal yourself. Because there are multiple ways of peeling this onion, we need to put take each layer and go slowly. Every post I will go through some technique or application that I feel would be useful for you to do at home. To begin, I will  give you a mind/body writing exercise to to help you focus on your physical, emotional and cognitive history.  A body map in a sense that you can use to detail your bodily experience through specific times in your life. This exercise might also help you get adjusted to the present tense at the same time as giving some credit to the past even though it might be painful. Before you begin, you should know that this process will or could unleash some emotions, but please try and welcome them  as they are releasing from your system and can be addressed more easily in the present moment. One last word before we begin. In giving you any kind of therapeutic help/tips, I in no way intend to cure, treat or heal  any one person. I am not acting as your therapist nor am I advising or prescribing any treatment to anyone but merely suggesting these exercises have been helpful for numerous clientele. I am sharing these with you first hand because of Angela and her network of fierce women. I hope you understand, however if you should have or want an emotional release bodywork session or wish to contact me, I am available for appointments by phone, skype and in person in my San Francisco office during the weekdays Monday through Friday 9-5. http://www.alisonleigh.net/resume.html

415-377-9851

NOW- to get you started on the road to recovery, we are going to begin with a body map, both physical and emotional.

“Seeing is believing but feeling, now that is exceptional. ” als

1)PHYSICAL BODY MAPPING JOURNEY™ exercise by Alison Leigh, MFT

Take out a sheet of paper and write down your “physical body journey”. This is  a chronology of your body from the very beginning of time. It includes *facts* not feelings. It also includes *objectivity* , meaning your describing a narrative of what you saw from a perspective *about* your body. Similar to your seeing your body from another perspective. In other words, you didn’t feel it, but you saw it, you observed it. “I saw my body growing, I saw my body moving faster than the boys, “i noticed my  physical appearance as (insert here). It might sound something like,  “my body came out of my mom at 7.4 lbs”. “When i was 8, i remember jumping, climbing trees and running around with my brother”. Write down your active moments, your non-active times, and everytime in between. Write down times you or another used or abused your body. “she did this to me, or he did that to me”.  Or, perhaps you were inactive but used your body to do simple things, like play board games.  It may sound like this, “I remember playing chess with my grandfather but I was not into sports much”. Remember to include physical injuries and how they made you feel plus physical victories, (do you remember getting taller?  Stronger? Sexier?). If you find this exercise too overwhelming, then just choose one year of your life or maybe even one day.  You could choose a decade or from a particular age like 13-20, or your entire 35th year. So, again, you are writing from *just* a physical bodily perspective. It would be as if your body was talking and writing the story herself.

2) After you are done, email it to me or a friend and discuss. You would be surprised how much you get out of this exercise.(askalisonleigh@gmail.com)

3) EMOTIONAL BODY MAPPING JOURNEY exercise™ by Alison Leigh, MFT

Now, I would like you to do the same here, but this time, either choose the same time period as you did earlier, or you can choose a new one. Describe in detail the emotional body feelings you had during that time. You might say something like, “I felt hopeless, I had feelings of despair”. Or you might say, “It was the first time in my life I felt love and I felt it all over my body”. Remember to note *where* in your body you felt it. People feel their feelings everywhere or sometimes in a specific place. Even, sometimes they don’t or can’t locate them. That is okay. Try anyway. If that doesn’t work, you can just say, “I felt it but didn’t know where”. In contrast, there are feelings that aren’t felt, called, “numbness”. That is where you might tend to disappear, dissociate and forget. If that happened, that is okay too. Just stay with that. Don’t try and change the past just note it. Saying what was in the past won’t hurt you now, it just names the fact as it *was* without a label. (unless you put one there) Remember while writing that often times there will be two voices speaking at once. One will be the cognitive (brain) talking. That is the one who tells the story, no matter how you feel, that is the author. Then, there is the emotional body story teller who tells the story of how it feels, instead of *what* happened. Sometimes, the two get mixed up and it’s all confusing. That is why I’m separating them here. This way, you get a fresh perspective on both ends. You will hear from your physical body as well as your cognitive mind. The cognitive mind often times does not get along with the physical body voice so often times people have challenges in that area. Your body’s words might say, “I liked what he was doing to me”, and your cognitive words  might say, “I hated what he was doing”. In anycase, just write down your feelings, and just note your thoughts about that. Should you have any questions, please let me know. Until then, enjoy your process and be open to what you might find. I believe it might help heal you.

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