My Childhood Trauma and how it affected me throughout life.
I have been really
hesitant to write this story down for my website, because it's so personal and sometimes sad. (Although it does have a happy ending.) But then it
came to me that our stories are important; they inform who we become. How can you trust me to know anything about healing your trauma unless you
know that I have healed much of my own trauma and have an understanding of it? So here is the story of how I was traumatized at a very early age
and the story of my personal journey through healing the trauma.
(The first part of this story took place before I had memory recall. I wrote it down the way it was told to me by various family members, as they remember it.)
During the second World War, Germany occupied Hungary, the country where I was born and where my family is from. The Russian army came in and drove the Germans out,
but then the Russians remained in Hungary. In 1956, Hungarian university students staged a revolution and drove the Russian occupiers out. But then, shortly before
my second birthday, the Russian tanks rolled into Budapest, Hungary's capital and the city my family was living in and they went on a rampage, killing wantonly.
Many horrors occurred during that war that my father later told me about. My parents decided to get out of the country to get away from Communism, but more importantly,
because my father, a Mechanical Engineer, was in danger of being deported to Moscow for his knowledge and inventions in the field of powder metallurgy. They made
the arduous journey from Hungary across the border into Austria, with their four young children in tow. My brothers were 9 and 8 years old and my sister was 5.
I turned 2, four days before we left.
Here is what happened. We took a train from Budapest to my grandmother's house, who lived relatively close to the Austrian border. My brothers and sister were instructed
by my mother to say, in case anyone asked them, that we were going to visit my grandmother, nothing more. It was November 22, 1956 when we left my grandmother's house.
A relative took us, by horse drawn wagon, to the place where we met up with the guide and group of refugees who were leaving their homes to pursue a life of freedom elsewhere.
After night fall, we set off on foot for the nine mile journey into Austria. I was given a sleeping pill and was carried by my father; everyone else walked. They walked through
corn fields and on railroad tracks, until we got close to the border, where we had to cross a bridge over a stream to get into Austria. Shortly before we got there, it started sleeting.
Then, right as we got very close to the boarder, I woke up. The sleeve of my coat had creeped up exposing my arm to the elements, which was probably what woke me up.
I woke from my drugged delirium to find that I was not in my warm bed, but outside in the night with freezing rain falling on me and my bare arm and I started wailing!
To everyone's horror, there were two Russian tanks stationed by the bridge to intercept anyone trying to leave the country. I was inconsolable and wouldn't stop wailing.
According to my mother, I was crying so hard that there was no way that the Russian soldiers, in their tanks, didn't hear me. She thought that they felt sorry for us
and let us go. But I think that it's probably more likely that the sound of the ice pellets falling on the metal tanks made such a racket that the soldiers couldn't
hear anything else.
Everyone in our group panicked, certain that the baby was going to get us all killed. My sister remembers that there were two young men who were in possession of a hand
gun and wanted to hit me over the head with it so I'd pass out. The guide intervened and instructed the group to keep moving while we were to stay behind until I settled down.
He told us that once we got across the border, we were to keep walking until we got to the first village and saw a light in a church steeple. At the church, they were taking
in refugees and we'd be taken care of. My mother sent my brothers along with the rest of the refugees while she, my father, my sister and I stayed behind.
We finally made it across the border to safety. Once we were on Austrian soil, my mother sat down on the railroad tracks and started sobbing uncontrollably. She refused
to go any further. My father took my sister and me to the church where we were reunited with my brothers and my father went back for my mother.
It wasn't until I was 32 years old and at a self-help retreat that I finally understood what happened to me that night. When I started wailing and everyone panicked,
their terror was projected right onto, and into, me. I didn't know what was happening; but I felt it. All those people were fearing for their lives and their fear
was directed toward me. The energy of their terror was so powerful that it penetrating my whole being. I felt MY life being threatened. I was traumatized.
(At this point in the story, I'm going to skip the grueling details of the rest of our journey to the United States and jump ahead to how the trauma affected me for most of my life.)
Our journey ended when our family was sponsored by a church in Allentown, Pennsylvania and there we settled into a nice house, fully furnished with everything we needed.
We were safe now, out of harm's way, but all of us were emotionally damaged. My older brother bit his nails down to nubs. My other brother continuously acted out and
was often getting beaten by my father. All three of my siblings had a hard time in school because they couldn't speak English. My mother had nervous breakdowns regularly and my father went into rages often.
He had been the one I could count on to protect me when I was very young but, with time, I grew afraid of him.
I remember that I liked our new house. It was big and had a nice backyard with flowers. But, I would be playing peacefully and suddenly, out of nowhere, a dark cloud
would envelope me and I'm start yelling in Hungarian that the Russians were coming! I'd have to hide, under the bed, in the fireplace, in the closet, whatever hiding
place was closest to me and I'd stay there until I calmed down. I had several other symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I didn't talk to anyone outside of my
family; I bit my fingernails, pulled out my hair and worst of all, I had nightmares, night after night, unending. I was afraid to go to sleep, because when I did,
the "bad man" would always come to get me. Once he was a monster crawling out from under my bed, often times a devil hopping toward me in a chimney, or a man in
a trench coat and fedora walking toward me while I had to pull myself away from him with my hands holding the branches of a hedge because my legs wouldn't work.
As you can see, I still remember some of these nightmares.
And then, after three years of constant nightmares, a miracle occurred. I found out about guardian angels. I was told that all of us have angels whose job it is to
help us when we ask for help and I needed help badly. So when I went to bed the night of learning about these magical beings, I visualized my guardian angels flying
around the ceiling of my room. I asked them to make the nightmares stop.
I did have a nightmare that night, but I was determined, and the next night I asked the angels for help again, and again visualized them flying around the ceiling.
This time, it worked. I slept through the night without disturbing dreams. It was the end of the constant nightmares and I am forever grateful for the help I received
from the angelic realm. Frankly I'm amazed that I still remember all of this, but it was a huge, life altering event that I will always remember.
During my childhood, I was very shy. I felt like an outsider, like I didn't belong here on Earth. I went into water over my head once, kind of hoping to drown,
or perhaps more accurately, not minding if I did. And I continued to have negative relationships with males, even though the nightmares stopped.
The younger of my two brothers bullied me badly. He was very strong and often he'd hit me so hard I would land on the floor. And yet, every time he asked me
if I wanted to play, I always said, "yes". The boy next door would run up behind me as I walked home from school and push me so hard I would fall on my knees.
I went through numerous pairs of tights and I remember thinking that my knees would be scarred for life because they never had a chance to fully heal. And yet,
I played with him almost everyday. I was a quiet, gentle child and apparently I was an easy target for abuse.
When I was 13 years old, my family moved to New Hampshire and a year later I had my first boyfriend, who was 18. There was a lot of drama. I was always over
reacting to whatever I perceived as a threat to our relationship. When he broke up with me a year later because he had gotten another girl pregnant and was
going to marry her, the emotional pain of it was unbearable to me. It was a winter day and after school I walked to the town park where there was a river
and I walked out onto the thin ice. Someone saw me and came running and yelling for me to get out of there. He quite possibly saved my life.
After my Junior year in High School, I hooked up with the cool kids and started partying. I also hooked up with a 21 year old who a year later asked
me to marry him. I was very much in love with him and said "yes". I later found out he was having sex with other girls. One day he packed his backpack
and hitchhiked to California without telling me. I was so in love with him and my heart was broken again. He never left the West Coast and married someone else.
By then, I had turned into a beautiful young woman who could sing. I got into a band with some guys from school and we were quite successful. There was a lot
of partying. We were living the "sex, drugs and rock & roll" lifestyle. Meanwhile, the abusive relationships continued.
I remember looking at couples who had nice, normal relationships and wondering how they did it. Why was I always immersed in so much drama? It was a total mystery to me.
I was dating one of the guys in the band and one night, as he was driving us to a gig, he asked me to give him the song list for that evening and I didn't hand
it to him right away because I wanted to see it too and he hit me.
I was going to Boston University at the time, so I only saw my boyfriend on weekends. When I broke up with him, after this event, he told me that he had been
having sex with other women the whole time we were together. A pattern had emerged, but I just couldn't figure out why this kept happening to me. I see now
that I was instinctively drawn to abusers. On a psychic level, I had come to believe that all men were abusive, so I kept getting drawn to men who fit my belief pattern.
When I was 22, the band broke up and I left New England and headed to California to "make it" in the music industry. Soon after I got there, my backpack and all
my possessions were stolen and my wallet fell into the ocean while I was prancing in the waves. I had nothing but $17, one change of clothing and my hairbrush.
I walked up a hill, sat down on a rock and started crying. I asked, "God, why is this happening to me?"" and I heard a voice inside my head say, "So that you'll
have compassion."" I knew right then, beyond any doubt, that someday I was going to help people heal.
It was just a moment in time, a knowing.
I found a job and a compassionate coworker took pity on me and let me stay at her house until I found a place to live. With time I made my way, and eventually
moved to San Francisco where I went on a wild ride of city life. I got a job as a hostess in an upscale Hungarian restaurant by the bay. It was me and a staff
of beautiful gay waiters. After work, there was lots of partying. We'd change out of our work clothes and hit the bars. I was so distracted by partying with
my new friends that I barely paid attention to my career. I did one session of backup vocals for a song writer in a recording studio; that was it. After 6 months,
I felt like I had to get out of the city or I would die there. I knew that I needed to be in nature. I decided to move to Colorado to figure out what my next
step would be and to let the mountains heal me.
A lot of things happened after I moved to Colorado. I had relationships with nice guys, but I would always leave them. I was drawn to the bad boys, the ones
that would leave me crying. I was burned out on all the partying. I just wanted to settle down. After sometime, I met a nice guy who loved the great outdoors
as much as I did. He had beautiful blue eyes and I decided that he was "the one". We got married and had two beautiful children together. But I wasn't happy.
There was a deep longing in my heart that wasn't being fulfilled. My spirit was aching.
My husband had grown up in a normal middle-class Protestant family, in a neighborhood where all the houses looked the same, and he didn't understand me at all.
I was exploring ancient religions, studying crystal healing, going to self-help workshops that he resented paying for. And when I tried to talk to him about
what I was learning, he had nothing to say. It wasn't working and I had to leave. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I didn't want to hurt him; I loved him.
But I had to be free of the stifling feeling I was having.
Was it a mistake to leave him? I'll never know. All I know is that the pain I was in just got a lot worse after I left.
In the ensuing years, I was in and out of relationships with men who were, at least somewhat, spiritual. But they were a mess, like me.
For over two years I lived with a man who was in love with another woman who was living with someone else. Another lover rotated between me
and two other women not being able to decide which one he wanted. Another was a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and on it went. We attract
people into our lives who are on the same level of emotional maturity as ourselves and there was always a lot of drama. I kept over reacting
and feeling very insecure. I'd end up crying uncontrollably for hours over whatever drama was taking place. I was in deep emotional pain.
A really good thing happened in 1996, when I was 41. I spent a month in New Hampshire working for my dad and earned enough money to go to massage
school in California. Massage School was wonderful! My teacher was the Mother Teresa of massage; a woman who was all heart. It was so healing for
me to be there. There was so much love and I was learning so much about healing.
Six years went by of me building my massage practice and working on myself while the relationship madness continued. I took more classes, gaining
a deeper understanding of the human body. Then, in October of 2002, I found out that my mother had terminal cancer. I went back to New Hampshire
in January and stayed with my parents until my mother died. I got very close to my dad, since we were the ones taking care of my mom. After the funeral,
I was heart broken to leave my dad there, all alone and we both cried when I left to come home to Colorado. As I was leaving, I told my dad that I would
get my affairs in order and come back to live with him. By then I had had so many bad relationships that I didn't care anymore if I ever had a romantic
relationship again. I just wanted to be of service and at that time, my dad needed me more than my massage clients did.
By now, my children were both in college and I was free to move to New Hampshire to be with my dad. I arrived in New Hampshire two days before Thanksgiving
in 2004. Living with my father, I fell into a state of grace. It was clear to me that I was there to support my dad in whatever way I could and to continue
to offer healing to others through my massage practice. I knew my path and I stayed on course. And then, another miracle occurred.
I had to return to massage school in order to meet the requirements to get licensed as a massage therapist in New Hampshire. On my first day of anatomy
class, a woman came up to me after class and said, "I know you." When we were in high school, she had been the girlfriend of the abusive guy who was in
the band I had been in. She invited me to come over to her house and when I got there, her ex-husband happened to be there too. We met and over time,
he and I slowly got to know each other. He was very sweet, but I was afraid to get close to him because I assumed that he would be like all the others, unfaithful.
But he wasn't like the others at all. When I told him that I was afraid he was going to cheat on me like the others had, he said that he couldn't even
imagine being romantically engaged with more than one person; one was enough.
Finally, I found someone I felt safe with. It was very much like when the angels stopped my nightmares when I was six years old. This man had all the
qualities I had hoped for in a partner, the most important of which is kindness. He was responsible, stable, very handsome :-) and felt like home.
Six months after we met, we got engaged and three months after that we got married.
I believe that the reason I was drawn to an appropriate partner was because I had finally matured emotionally. It was a huge endeavor for me to leave
my life in Colorado behind. I was doing quite well. I had lots of friends, lots of massage clients, including Joe Cocker and his lovely wife and I
had a great place to live with an incredible view of the mountains. But I sacrificed all of it to go take care of my dad and that act of selflessness changed me and changed my life.
Soon after I arrived in New Hampshire, it became apparent to me that something was very wrong with my dad. I took him to doctors and he was diagnosed
with Parkinson's Disease. After I got married, he managed on his own until he had a bad fall and couldn't live alone anymore. My sister took care of
him for a year and after that, my husband Erick and I took care of him in our home until he died 6 1/2 years later. That was an enormous sacrifice,
but I'm so grateful that my wonderful husband was willing to give so much of his own time to help my dad with all the things I couldn't do, like bathroom duty.
My dad would get out of bed, up to five times during a night, to go to the bathroom and Erick jumped out of bed every time to help him.
Meanwhile, I took more classes~ Kundalini yoga, ballet, Reiki, astrology, gardening and metal jewelry making. I studied with some extraordinary teachers.
My dad was almost 94 when he passed away. During the 11 years that I was in New Hampshire, there were 5 deaths in our family; my nephew, my brother-in-law,
my father-in-law, my brother and finally my father. It was a lot to deal with, but I grew strong and in retrospect it feels like I was paying off some karmic
debt in the ways I helped my family. The big family gatherings were always at my house, since that's where my dad was. I drove my sister and brother to
Pennsylvania so we could all say good-bye to my dying brother and be with him when he left his body. I sang at my nephew's, brother-in-law's and my father's funerals.
I hosted funeral receptions at my house every time. I did whatever needed to be done for my family.
After my dad left this earth plane, I moved back to Colorado with my beloved.
I grew a tremendous amount during my 11 years in New Hampshire. I'm able to stand up to men now and let them know if they have crossed a boundary.
My sense is that very early in life, with my deep fear of the Russian soldiers, I formed a belief that men hurt me and I held onto that belief until
I finally chose self-empowerment. Then I was able to recognize a good partner when I met him. I know I still have work to do. I'm still uncomfortable
in crowds and on rare occasion, I still get triggered by things that somehow remind me of the fear I felt of the Russian soldiers. But I know I have
come a long way; I'm truly happy now.
I often wonder if we can ever fully heal from our traumas. What I do know, from personal experience, is that a lot of healing is possible, if we choose
that path and stay on it. The important thing is to set an intension to always choose love and strength over fear and weakness.
I live in a small town in rural Colorado. I know that this probably limits me in the amount of people I can reach with my work, but this is where I
feel at peace. And even if I can help a mere handful of people, I feel that my life has purpose.
The healing modalities I work with are gentle, calming and transformative and I am happy to offer them. At this point, I am very clear on what my work
is here on Earth. I am here to support others in their healing, with my musical instruments, my voice, my hands, my crystals, my knowledge, my intuition,
my intention and most of all with the support of the spirit guides, who I always call upon before I start a healing session.
I have a lovely home with my kind and incredibly talented artist husband, our two good dogs, our goldfish pond and my copious amounts of house plants
and flowers, which I grow because of my love of beauty. Sometimes I stop and look around, smile and say to myself, "I created this. Good job Girlfriend!"
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