Music inspired poetry

I've previously written about the way that David Gray's music really helped me during difficult times. I was very fortunate to see him live in concert recently and what a great experience that was. As I watched David perform on stage, I experienced a flood of emotions and I knew that it would inspire me to write a poem. So here it is:

Gray's Antidote

waves of robust timbre
illume the veiled depths with hints of shimmering indigo infused with limpid tears
notes ripple with serenity healing noxious wounds like a brush of silken feathers that smooths each ingrained crease
a storm induced crescendo eliminates the dust that settled for too long in crevices unseen
while tones of thunder build and warm up frozen blues sweet aria licks give breath to the wind ‘til sombre clouds pass away
©  Paola Borella

Rebuilding self-esteem after abuse

My experience of PTSD

Birthday revelation

On the morning of my recent birthday this year, I quietly contemplated my life and previous celebrations. A tear rolled down my cheek as I started to remember my younger self trying to look happy, but on the inside she was in pain and felt very confused. It was such a powerful memory because as I delved deep inside my soul, I was able to tap into a buried emotion that I didn’t know still existed. Upon reflection, I realise that I felt overwhelmed by people’s kindness and attention on that annual day; behaviour that can easily confuse a child who is being abused. And the end of the day would culminate in an anti-climax that would often lead me to feel very low and tearful. That poor little girl was crying out for help internally but no one could hear her.

Over the years I haven’t always enjoyed or wanted to celebrate my birthday and I now understand why. The low self-worth that was ingrained from a young age remained with me for a long time, and as a result, I didn’t feel worthy of peo…

Speaking out

I recently saw a thought provoking question on Twitter and felt the urge to answer. It said: “If you are a survivor of abuse, what might have helped you to tell someone sooner?” It is certainly a difficult question to answer because I can’t imagine how things might have been different for me. I was a very open, talkative child but still I stayed silent. Survivors of abuse carry a lot of shame and will therefore keep the secret to themselves for a long time, usually for as long as about 20 years. However, as a society it is within our power to change this pattern and ensure that children are protected and able to speak openly.

Firstly, I believe it is the responsibility of adults, such as parents, teachers and doctors, to be aware of behaviour in children and how it differs in those who are being abused. The next step would be to arrange a therapeutic intervention with a child that might enable disclosure; this could be made easier for children if they are educated on the topic of abus…

Counselling survivors of abuse

Over the years I have had therapy with a number of counsellors and my experiences have varied. I feel that I am now at a point where I am able to reflect on what worked well for me and what didn’t. In this post I’d like to include some ideas for counsellors who are considering working with survivors of abuse and trauma.

First session
Consider the fact that the client may have never spoken about the abuse until the first session. Therefore, be mindful of how much information you ask of the client as you don’t want to re-traumatize. The client may have trust issues so a therapist needs to work towards building a good rapport and a trusting relationship. I would certainly advise against asking too many questions, which may feel like an interrogation to the client, and it might make the client feel judged and anxious.
Tell your client that they can have comfort breaks if they wish. Anxiety can lead to an increased need to go to the toilet, and unfortunately if a counsellor doesn’t o…

Breaking the silence

When someone shares a difficult or painful story, it is sometimes hard to know what to say. But an uncomfortable silence can sometimes hurt us more than words. In the case of survivors of abuse, they have probably hidden their story for a long time. Therefore, breaking the silence is of utmost importance. So imagine how they might feel if their story and feelings are not acknowledged?

Our response can be simple but effective, and most importantly it can show that we empathise. Whenever I listen to survivors and they share something that I sense is difficult, I say, “I’m sorry to hear about your experience, and I’m sorry that you are hurting right now.” My response not only shows empathy, but it also shows that I am joining the survivor in breaking the silence. I also thank survivors for sharing their story because I know how difficult it can be to put a traumatic experience into words.
Unfortunately, some people are insensitive and ignorant, and they are the people that could break th…