Dusana Michaels

Author of "Chopping the Onion"

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How Long?

As I peruse different sights of social media, one question I see asked is ‘how long will it take to heal?’ I remember wondering that same question early on in my recovery. I thought I was conquering a mountain as a one time thing. I’m glad no one has asked me that question to my face. I’m afraid I’d start laughing.

Those first couple of years are tough. You are trying to make sense of what was done to you and understand how someone could have taken advantage of your innocence. You are trying to ferret out healthy behaviors from unhealthy ones. You are trying to find coping skills that don’t harm yourself or the people around you who are doing their best to help. You are trying to manage the deep, intense pain. You are trying to find a new way to live.

It does get better with time. All of the above does get figured out. You learn to find peace and joy again. You live a normal life and attain the goals you’ve set for yourself.

And then you’re triggered again. All the feelings are never as bad as those first couple of years but it never does go away. You learn to live with it but you’re never fully healed from it. You learn how to have the abuse take up a portion of your life but not your whole life. I know it’s something I need to give attention to from time to time. If I ignore it for too long, it’ll get my attention again.

I listen to the voice that directs me toward the greatest truth about myself. I am loved and can give that love to those I choose. I am beautiful and allow that beauty to flow into what I do in the world. I am trusting and give that trust to people who have earned it. I am forgiving and give the peace that comes from it back to myself. I see things accurately and accept the facts of a situation. I am strong and act accordingly. I may lose these truths for a while but never forever. They always find their way back into my consciousness.

How long does it take to heal? Longer than you want to know. There’s always more to learn and grow and heal. The journey is tough but worthwhile. You’ll like and love the person you find.


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5 ways to cope with dissociation

1. Notice you are not grounded in your body, feeling spacey or not fully available to respond to the moment

2. Take a deep breath, take another deep breath, feel the breath entering the body, feel the breath exiting the body, keep breathing deeply while you do the following:

3. Look around and mentally name three things you see

4. Listen and mentally name three things you can hear

5. Feel your feet on the floor or your bum on the chair, bring your attention into your hands-make a fist, shake them, press them against something


You are safe, you can take care of the problem at hand, you can trust your instinct, you know what you need to do

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Mother’s Day

I am at peace this Mother’s Day. I am grateful for this peaceful feeling as I think of the different women in my life who have been mother figures to me. The women who have taught me about love and understanding. I love the acceptance they have shown me which helped me to then accept myself. I appreciate their listening skills without the need to rescue me, change me, pity me, or deny my interpretation of the situation I found myself in. I felt their trust in my ability to make it through to the other side, whatever that ended up meaning or looking like in the outer presentation of life circumstances.

I’m at peace with never having a child of my own. There have been many Mother’s Days where I cried and grieved for this life circumstance. This year, I think instead of the many children in my life who I get the opportunity to practice my mothering skills upon. I love them and accept them. I get to listen to their versions of life. I guide as needed or challenge when appropriate. I share my own past mistakes and let them know it was part of my overall development and growth. Mainly, I enjoy the moment and accept who they are at the time, knowing it’s not who they will always be. I trust their ability to walk their path that is unfolding in life.

I am at peace with my relationship with my own mother. While she was not my ideal version of the archetype, what mother ever is, she helped me grow into the woman I am now. I learned a lot of what not to do in order to find my own version of motherhood within. I grew into the mother I wanted as a child. I marvel at how different I am in that role than she was with me. I connect and interact and accept the mess of life. I play and am silly. I listen and stop to see the person in front of me. I appreciate the strengths my mother had and the ways I am like her. I have changed the things I didn’t like and grew into a woman I can be proud to share with the people in my life.

There were so many mothers I’ve learned from through the years. So many children that have crossed my path. I appreciate the part they have played in the unfolding of my life.

Today is an opportunity to honor the feminine expression of creativity that is motherhood. What will I give birth to next? What is wanting to be born? I walk forward in life to the next adventure that awaits me.

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I read Diane Keaton’s response to the allegations from Dylan Farrow towards Woody Allen. She was around Dylan less than a hand-full of  times when she was a child and knows what a nasty divorce it was between Allen and Dylan’s mother, Mia Farrow.  She believes her friend.

I read the few comments that readers had shared about the response. People want proof that the abuse happened, otherwise let the man be free of it. Her own brother, who lived in the same house, reported not ever seeing anything and therefore nothing ever happened. Mia was a brainwasher and not to be trusted.

I don’t know what happened. I wasn’t there. Only two people know for sure what happened, Woody and Dylan. What I do know is how proficient the brain is at performing mental gymnastics in order to believe what it wants to believe.

For the first 23 years of my life I believed that I had a perfectly happy childhood. Then the memories started to come. And then I had to make sense of the memories. How I had twisted my beliefs and perceptions as a child so I didn’t have to admit the unthinkable. I have spent the last 24 years learning to live with all of the above and finding a new reality to build my life around. It continues to be a daily process of acceptance, love and forgiveness.

A few posts ago I wrote about my mother walking in on my dad raping me and leaving when he told her to go. I have confronted her about the abuse. She has no memory of it. I believe her. She really does not remember it. Her denial runs that deep. Her mind has been able to do the mental gymnastics necessary to protect her as mine did all those years ago. I’ve had to accept that.

For my own reasons, that don’t need to make sense to anyone else but me, I still have contact with my mom. It’s a difficult and complicated relationship, to say the least, but only for me. She really doesn’t get why I don’t visit the family. She comes up with other excuses at which I can now smile. It does me no good to try to convince her that I wasn’t brainwashed by some other source. It does me no good to try to get her to remember. It does me no good to keep bringing it up. I’ve worked through my hope that one day she would finally rescue me. I know she will go to her grave still holding onto her denial. I’ve had to accept that too.

Besides my mom, the only other person who could verify what went on between us took his own denial to his grave 20 years ago. There is no proof. I have nothing and no one to back up my allegations. All I have is over twenty years of journal writing.

It’s a  story I believe is important to tell.