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Then there were times when

    The poetry flowed.

My words fell on paper,

    My creativity glowed.

*

The writing was easy,

   The meanings were clear.

My inner child,

    Always was near.

*

Then came the hurting,

     The word flow did cease.

I spiritually died,

    I knew no more peace.

*

Long years of silence,

    By my poet child.

I tried to be happy,

    Inside I was wild.

*

It grieved me to hear,

    The silence within.

I wanted so badly,

    The words to begin.

*

Years of discovery,

    Led me to causes.

I worked and recovered,

    Without many pauses.

*

I went back to Tulsa,

    My dead father to see.

To tell him I loved him,

    To set old hurts free.

*

It’s now a year later,

    The word flow returns.

Creative freedom,

    Again mine to learn.

*

Now there are new times,

    When the poetry flows,

The words fall on paper,

    My creativity grows.

*

Yet it seems like a new world,

    My heart is at ease.

Not flowing from hurting,

    My words are at peace.

*****

This poem was written in 1999, but I’m having this experience so strongly now that it’s really relevant today.

Photo credit:

“Inspiration” photosteve101 @ Flickr.com Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.

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I had just been

On an amazing adventure

I worked on

The wheat harvest

To follow my Dad’s path,

To walk in his shoes,

To find out

What had led him

To change his whole life

And reclaim

His soberness

His family

His job

His life.

 *

Combine cutting wheat

I had returned to Houston

After spending the summer

From Oklahoma

To North Dakota

Following the wheat

Living a nomadic life

Exploring new worlds.

Combine moving to next field

*

I had been writing letters

To a number of friends

To stay grounded.

I had called

Whenever we stopped

At a place where

There was a phone.

One of my biggest

Supports was Donna.

We’d been friends

For many years

And she had been there

Whenever

I needed her.

 *

So when I got home,

We planned to spend time.

She wanted to hear

All about my experience

What it was like driving

A big truck,

Pulling a wheat combine

Combine on a trailer behind grain truck

On a trailer.

I had described it

In letters,

But it wasn’t the same

As being able to

Spend an evening

And tell someone

All  about it.

*

I called her.

She said

And I remember

This vividly:

“Say, I’d love

To get together.

I’m house sitting

For some friends,

I have to watch their dogs

I have to do a couple of

Loads of laundry.

I’ll cook you dinner,

And get a couple of movies

And we can watch those

While we visit.”

*

The whole thing

Just felt wrong.

Too many moving parts,

And no place to

Really talk.

I had presence enough

To say

“Donna, that feels

awfully busy.

Why don’t we do it

Another night

When there’s more time

To just sit and visit.”

*

She acted sort of surprised,

And a bit put out.

Like she had been

Doing me a favor

To offer me the time slot.

We never rescheduled.

She never found out

What my journey

Had been like.

 *

The only thing

I can figure out

Is that she didn’t

Really want to know.

Ouch!

Why?

I couldn’t guess.

*

We were never the same

After that.

**************************

Photo credits:

Photos by Dan L. Hays Copyright, all rights reserved.

“Good Question” e-magic @ Flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.

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My Dad disappeared

For about a year

When I was seventeen.

The last I saw him,

We left him

Passed out drunk

On the living room couch.

Relatives came and got

My Mom, sisters and me

Leaving Dad

Who wouldn’t quit drinking

Who wouldn’t accept help.

I thought

I might ever see him again.

 *

Later

He returned to our lives

A changed man.

He sobered up

Got back his old job

Built back his old life.

*

But twenty years later

After he died

I realized

I never knew what happened

When he disappeared.

When he was on the edge

Of killing himself

With the drink.

Rumor had it

That he worked

The wheat harvest

Something he had done

In college.

Wheat Harvest

*

I started to write

The story of what I thought

Might have happened.

I realized

The piece I was missing

Was what it would be like

To work on

The wheat harvest.

*

I said to a friend

“Someday…

Someday,

If I ever want to

Really explore

My Dad’s story.

I might just have to

Work the wheat harvest.

My friend Pat

Listened quietly.

 *

Later he said

“You’ve talked about

working the wheat harvest

three or four times.

I just want to mention

Someday – if you want

To work the wheat harvest.

I have relatives in Oklahoma

Who do that each year.”

*

I did what I do

When hit with

The unexpected.

I sat there

Numbly,

Quietly.

And then said

“Thanks for telling me.”

Talk about upping the ante

On a spiritual quest

To walk in

My Dad’s shoes.

My friend had

Certainly done that.

Now I was left

To put it all out there,

Or leave it as “someday.”

*

I finally called Pat

And asked if he would

Do me a favor.

Check with his relatives

To see if I might

Join their harvest crew

For the summer.

*

Meanwhile,

I tried to figure out

If this was

Completely nuts.

Quit my job,

Go off and work

On a harvest crew

To find out about

My Dad’s story.

I checked it out

With Scott – a good friend

Who was really grounded.

He’d give me a solid answer,

Besides, he was

An accountant.

Logical, linear.

I later realized

I was secretly hoping

He’d tell me

“This idea is crazy”

So I could give up

The whole thing.

Instead he said

“Makes a lot of sense

I think you ought to do it!

It will be part of

Your healing.”

Major gulp!

*

Two months later,

I was living in a trailer

In Lone Wolf Oklahoma

With six high school farm kids

Learning to drive a huge truck

Used to haul grain.

And following

My Dad’s story.

*

Bunk trailers and work pickups

Cara - the grain truck I drove on harvest

It was the adventure

Of a lifetime.

We followed the wheat

As it ripened.

Living like nomads.

It was a world

I had never seen before.

Living in an old house trailer

In one place for two weeks

Then moving,

Trailers, trucks, combines

A caravan

To the next farm

As the wheat ripened

From Oklahoma

To North Dakota.

Combines and tractors

*

Combines dumping grain on trucks

I learned many things.

I grew up in the city

But had the heart of a country boy.

I love driving a tractor

Or a wheat combine.

I don’t do well on little sleep.

Living in a trailer,

Farm boys are not

Particularly neat

When Momma’s not there

To clean out the tub.

When pulling wheat from

A plugged up combine

The dust really itches,

When it gets down your neck.

 *

And special things happened.

    I got to visit the filmsite

From Dances With Wolves.

We saw Mount Rushmore,

Me at Dances With Wolves filmsite

My first pic of Mount Rushmore

Both affected me deeply.

All in all

It was a magical summer.

*

It gave me the truth

About what I believe

Happened to my Dad.

How he had

A spiritual awakening

And realized

He had to return

To clean up his past.

I finished the story

I wanted to tell.

I wrote it as a novel.

It will be called

“Nothing Left To Lose.”

 *

But as I look back

What Pat said

When the idea

First came up

Turned out to be the truth.

He had said

“Dan, you think you’re going

On the wheat harvest,

To learn about your Dad.

I think this trip

Will be about you.

You will learn about

Yourself.

Heal yourself.

Claim your own power.”

*

He was right!

I often look back

On the wheat harvest experience

As a turning point in my life.

When I claimed the truth

Dan the writer

Of my path

Not to follow the business world

   Of my Dad and my friends,

But to claim my birthright

As a writer

Dan the writer

A teller of stories.

And a country boy.

I am completely convinced

I did the right thing

In going on harvest

To walk in Dad’s shoes.

Because I found – myself.

********************

Photo Credits:

Photos by Dan L. Hays Copyright – all rights reserved.

“The Wheat Harvest” the slowlane @ flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.

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I vowed to myself

“I will never be

Like my Dad was

Toward me.

I just won’t!”

I wanted to have

Nothing to do with him.

His path

Was not mine.

*

Then one day

I read a poem.

*

A poem I had written

When I was

Fourteen years old.

*

The poem read:

A fiery, bubbling demon

Against the sky.

The huge volcano.

Lava pouring from its lip,

Like angry words hastily spoken.

It seems to be making fun

Of someone below it.

Or trying to shame a person

For doing a wrong.”

I was astonished

At how early

I had realized

My Dad’s

Venomous tongue.

I said to my mentor,

“See, that poem

Is about my Dad.”

*

His simple response

Is tattooed on my heart.

He quietly replied:

“Is it?”

*

I was stunned

As the truth

Of his words

Clutched my soul.

I had become

      Just like my Dad

*

My Dad at age 19

Me at age 19

My words had

Been harmful

To many people.

I constantly

Had to make up for

The damage I had done

With my sharp tongue.

*

It gave me a task –

To uncork

My own volcano.

Find out

What fueled

Such deep anger.

It became

My commitment.

My life’s goal.

*

It was critical

That I do so.

Imperative

That I solve this problem.

I was watching my Dad

As his health suffered:

Heart attack,

Open heart surgery,

Colostomy,

Not following doctor’s orders,

Overweight, still smoking

And just

Sitting on the anger.

I was watching my Dad

Commit slow suicide

By stuffing

His own anger.

He had sobered up

But the past was the past

And he wanted no part

Of figuring it out.

He would not deal with it

Or even admit

How angry he still was.

*

So he sat on white knuckles

And it was killing him.

My Dad at age 43

I knew my Dad

Would die early.

I knew that I

Would die early too

If I didn’t do

Something drastic.

That’s why my task

Was so necessary.

To not be like

My angry Dad.

*

It led to

A lot of hard work –

Uncovering abuse,

Healing wounds

Releasing anger –

But without hurting anyone.

First, do no harm.

I became

A completely

Different person.

Calm, alive,

Safe for other people.

The venom purged

The volcano disappeared.

*

Then years later

I had a flash of awareness.

Had my Dad

Not sobered up

He would have died

Many years

Before he did.

It was a paradox.

Even while sitting

All that anger

He helped many people.

After I delivered the eulogy

At his funeral.

One man said to me

“Your Dad

Saved my life.”

I knew from his look

He meant it literally.

*

Then I put

All the pieces together.

My Dad –

Who abused me

When he was drunk,

Illuminated my path

To healing

By his example

By his journey of recovery.

And in that way,

I want to be

Just like my Dad.

Me at age 58 at a high school reunion, after a night of dancing!

*******************

Last Saturday night I read a new poem at an open mic event.  The next morning I got up and wrote three new poems.  “I Just Won’t” is one of those poems.  I will read it this Saturday night at the open mic event!

Photo Credits:

Don Swanson via Wikimedia. Creative Commons via Wikimedia.

Pictures of Dan and his Dad, Copyright Dan Hays. All rights reserved.

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“Insomnia: A Writer’s Night Journey.” Accessing old memories leads a writer into nights of insomnia and fear, and brings him closer to publication.

Published in Life As A Human.

Photo Credit:

“Eminem at 3 a.m.”

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Welcome to the Inner Child edition of the Carnival Against Child Abuse.  We will honor our inner child, and share how that child has been such a vital part of our path to healing!

Blog Carnivals are a great opportunity to sample a variety of Blog offerings on a common topic. There are so many child abuse recovery and advocacy resources out there. We hope you find something of use to you! I have enjoyed reading and participating in this Blog Carnival and am happy to give back by hosting it this month.

Inner Child Themed Posts

Patricia Singleton offers several posts from her Inner Child Letters series.  The first is Three Year Old Adultress Revisited,  where she says “A three-year-old can’t be an adultress, so why did I call myself that name? This is a letter written to that inner child.”

The second post is Grieving, an essential part of the process of working with our inner children.

The third in the Inner Child series is Processing, and Patricia admits that “Processing the feelings and the grief that has come up with these letters was harder than I expected it to be.”

Next Patricia shares the Three Year Old Adultress Carries The Shame of Incest, and wonders “How can memories that I don’t even have be so hard to let go? Shame is one of the most crippling emotions to carry around from abuse.”

Patricia then writes Dear Seven Year Old Patricia, where she says “I don’t know what you’re protecting my mind from, but I thank you.”

These entries are from Patricia’s blog  Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker.

Marj aka Thriver tells us I Resolve to Comfort My Inner Child.  “In this post, I wrote a poem to my inner child, promising to comfort her and protect her.  These are words I never heard from my own mother.  But now I can re-parent myself and heal.”   She also shares with us Helping Your Inner Child Help You.  “I  wrote this entry for a guest post at another blog on the topic of PTSD.  I did some research for this post and list some books about the inner child and also some of the strategies I have come up with over the years for comforting my inner child.”  Both of these posts are from her blog Survivors Can Thrive.

JBR shares SIX YEAR OLD LIVING IN AN ADULT from the blog JUST BE REAL, about “this six year old” living in an “adult” body, trying to form adult words to what I am feeling, but having still the mentality of a six year old.

Dan L. Hays shares his post If You Had Any Sense, from his blog Thoughts Along The Road To Healing.  A casual comment by his father led him to betray his inner child and spend many years suffocating in the business world.

Advocacy & Awareness

Kari submits About New Tribes Mission Abuse, from the blog New Tribes Mission Abuse, “where our goal is for other survivors to find support. Please help us spread the word of what happened to us, so it can end here.  Please help us show that disclosure can help the victim.”

Deb Serani shares Mentally Ill Stuffed Animals from her blog Dr. Deb.  “This post looks at mentally ill stuffed animals and the stigmatizing images they convey.”

Enola shares For Sale – Humans – human trafficking from her blog Enola.  She writes: “This article came to my attention through work I’m doing on a gang committee. I learned about the huge underground movement in human trafficking.”

Hope offers us Just For Today from her blog Hope For Trauma.  She shares “This journey that I am on towards whatever it becomes, is traveled one day, one hour and one minute at a time.”

Tracie reminds us Rape – It Still Happens (even in Africa) from her blog From Tracie.

Emily Rossiter brings to us Mental Illness: The Answer to How Can I Help? from her blog Surviving Limbo.  She says: “I’m an adult survivor of child abuse. I have a laundry list of mental illness labels. A friend of mine with OCD and I were talking about how difficult it is to tell people how to help us. Thus, I wrote this post.”

Thegiftedhands shares The Child Witch Abuse in West Africa from the blog Planetprose.

 

 

Art Therapy

Paula offers us From Victim To Choicemaker from her blog Recovery In Art.  She says: “a collage created during art therapy enabled me to face my deepest wound and let me overcome the trauma on a way I never expected.”

Healing & Therapy

Meggs Fitzwater shares with us Call Me Crazy from Speaking Out, “a blog about coming to terms with the inner child theory and integrating it into my healing journey.”

Rick Belden submits Some Thoughts On Forgiveness from his blog Rick Belden.com.  Rick shares his thoughts on forgiveness, such as viewing forgiveness as an active and a sacred process.

Paula offers her post I Am A Duckling from her blog Becoming Myself.  She writes: “I would like to share an exercise from the trauma therapy I just finished. During a session of integrative body psychotherapy I got asked to select two symbols. One for my Inner Child and one for Big Paula. Once again I was surprised about the insights I got from this apparently so simple exercise. Grateful beyond measure. I hope this exercise might help you along too!”

Splinteredones offers how to Cut Panic w/Meditation, qi gong, from her blog Splinteredones.  “How to use qi gong and the basics of meditation to control anxiety panic and the other crud that sneaks in.”

Dr. Kathleen Young suggests to Love Yourself With Gentleness and Compassion, from her blog Dr. Kathleen Young: Treating Trauma in Chicago. 10 steps to fostering gentleness and compassion in yourself.

In The News

Jay Smith submits 10 Laws Passed After Horrible Crimes from Criminal Justice University.

Survivor Stories

Marjorie McKinnon offers Returning to the Scene of The Crime from Blog Posts for Margie Marybelle McKinnon.  “Marjorie is the founder of the Lamplighters international movement for recovery from incest and childhood sexual abuse.  We currently have 59 chapters in 9 countries.  Our Blog site is at http://www.thelamplighters.org.”

Hope submits List of Life from her blog Hope For Trauma, saying “I guess one could call it a ‘bucket list’, but I think it is a thriving list.”

Ellen Brown offers us Why In The World I Transitioned Into Coaching from her blog Stepping Stones.  Ellen says “This is a blog post about why I decided to become a coach after healing from child sexual abuse.”

Emily Rossiter shares The Story Of A Runaway, Or How I Escaped Hell, from her blog Surviving Limbo.  Emily writes “The most terrifying moment of my life happened sometime in March of ‘92.”

Poetry

Echoing the sentiment of a former host, I will intentionally not comment on poetry, but allow it space to breathe without interpretation.

 

Laura Schultz shares Solitude and Evolving from LauraSchultzNow.

Jade Fields offers And so it is from her blog Sublimely Ridiculous.

Dan L. Hays submits Heartbeat from Thoughts Along The Road to Healing.

Thank you so much for making this a content-packed Blog Carnival edition!  It was an honor to host this month!  You can submit your blog articles and art  to the next edition of the Carnival Against Child Abuse here.


Photo credit: Painting the Co-Op. Tony Crider @ Flickr.com Creative Commons.  Some rights reserved.

 

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Upon The New Year

Previously published in a treatment center newsletter as a staff submission, May 1990.

My name is Hope, I offer you,
The promise of a life so new,
Out of self will, we have to climb,
So let’s start now, one day at a time.

There is a place where we have to start,
In bringing you a loving heart.
If you view your life with honesty,
Is it unmanageable, can you see?

At first it is painful, we confess,
To admit you are powerless,
There is one thing which we can say,
There is no easier, softer way.

Second, a gift you can receive,
As in your own time you come to believe.
A Higher Power can give you back,
The sanity, you feel you lack.

Thirdly, now you can decide
That God is really on your side.
Your will and life you can be handing,
To the care of the God of your understanding.

My name is Hope, and have you guessed?
The tools with which you can be blessed.
I offer the Twelve Steps to you,
Work them all, ‘til you are through.

They will help you learn a way at last,
To clean up the wreckage of the past.
Be in tune with God, that’s the plan
And with yourself, and fellow man.

For it leads to spiritual awakening,
So carry the message, that’s the thing.
Yes my name is Hope and I wish you to be,
Happy, Joyous and oh, so Free.

 

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My Inner Child

A good friend emailed me a while back and asked about my experience of the “inner child” on my road to healing.  My inner child, who I called Little Danny, was an integral part of the book I had written, “Freedom’s Just Another Word.”  My friend wondered if my experience of that inner child had changed over the years, or if that child was still a part of me in some ways.  Here’s how I characterized it:

My sponsor in one of the 12 step programs several times said that when a person goes through a traumatic event, the ego freezes at the age the person was when the trauma took place.  Pretty psychological, but it certainly felt like what I experienced.  It was the essence of Little Danny.  Either an 8 year old, a 14 year old or a 17 year old, the ages of my major traumas.  And my process was releasing that old frozen ego and allowing myself to mature like I didn’t do at the time, yet also honoring Little Danny.  I learned after a while that my abandonment fears are resident within him, and I have to get him to “buy in” to things I am doing, or he rebels, digs in his heels, and says “like hell you will!”  I vividly remember driving north from Houston to do a sweat lodge to release some old traumas, and having to explain to Little Danny that I wouldn’t abandon him as I did that work.
I’ve found that when he understands what’s happening and I treat him like the bright, intuitive and gifted child he was/is, he goes along.  And my recovery gets better.  But it has also been my experience that he doesn’t go away, nor do I want him to, but he just doesn’t run my life in dysfunctional ways any more.  My sponsor used to talk a lot about parenting the child, and I’ve had to learn to do that.  I hear an interesting comment one time.  A woman said something along these lines.  “I hear everyone talking about the inner child, and how great and wonderful it is to get in touch with that child.  But for me, there’s the other side of the coin, that when that child gets out of control, she’s gotten me into a lot of trouble.  I want to honor that child, but not let them run the household any more!”  I thought there was great balance in that – kind of like inventory work where you turn a character defect into a character strength, but using it more appropriately.  So – my cognitive thinking skills don’t get overused and thrown back at me as “you’re so darn analytical all the time!”  It works better if I listen to my inner child, but don’t always let him run things!

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I received this question from someone who had just read my book, ” Freedom’s Just Another Word,” where I confront some pretty bad demons from my past:

How did you overcome your fear of dealing with all the pain coming to the surface? I have not been able to conquer this fear I have of experiencing all that pain. I can talk to myself, try to reason it all out. I know this stuff is poison. If I let it all stay buried in there it is going to continue to rot my soul. I can know this in my head, but the fear is greater than my reasoning.

Here’s how I responded:
OK – that really is the essential question. The fear of dealing with all the pain coming to the surface. A very real, very pertinent question. It sort of gets back to simple concepts – “The way out is through!” “The only pain you can avoid is the pain of avoidance.” In my case, I had watched my Dad for 20 years be sober in a 12 step program, but not be willing to deal with the feelings underneath his drinking, which I strongly suspect were from his childhood. He had his first heart attack at age 44, open heart surgery at 47, a colostomy at 52, and died of a stroke at 59. OK – for me, I knew I was destined to go down that same road if I didn’t change the dynamic in some way. Intuitively and spiritually, I knew that meant I had to face the demon of the old, buried feelings – it would continue to “rot my soul” and I would end up dying early as well. So at that point – at the time of ” Freedom’s Just Another Word” – dealing with the pain was for me a life and death struggle. Once I acknowledged that, I became more like they talk about in recovery literature, “willing to go to any lengths.” Hence the title, and the associated second part of the song line I had “Nothing Left to Lose.” I didn’t choose that path, I was watching all my friends have normal lives and I was having to go through this shit, and resenting it – but that was the path I needed to go down.

So I had realized I needed to do this work – but how to actually get to it. Several ways. Fortunately I had the wonderful sponsor in one of the 12 step programs who gave me this huge gift. He told me that if we start doing feeling work and it gets to be too much, there is a natural defense mechanism in the body that will shut it down. I found that to be true! I would start crying a box of Kleenex cry, deep and intense for several minutes, and then almost magically I would pull out, it would ease off, and I would be fine for a couple of days until we needed to release some more feelings. It happened many times with the sadness. Where I didn’t trust it was with the anger. That’s a couple of books down the sequence, but I will soon write a book about how it was for me in dealing with an anger so pure and white hot it scared me. And eventually it went away. It was that way with the feelings. They felt like they would never stop, and as I kept unloading and unloading, they subsided and finally went away, and I was left with a new awareness, attitude and sense of peace. It really happened! I was pretty surprised, because I sort of never thought I could get there.

Another thing that really sustained me in continuing down the path of dumping all that old stuff was a book I mentioned in Freedom – “Hind’s Feet on High Places.” It is a Christian allegory about a woman named Much Afraid who lived in the Valley of the Fearings with her cousins, Bitterness, Envy, Fear and I believe Resentment. She left to go on a journey to be with the Shepherd in the High Places. That book spoke so much to me about a journey of faith, knowing what you should do and doing it – even if others don’t understand, coming to a deeper faith in trusting that God is with you when you go on that journey. It is a powerful book, it soothed my heart, and kept my feet moving forward when I wasn’t sure I could keep going.

The third thing that I think was hugely beneficial was a strong set of friends who did support me and encourage me to keep going. I had to let some people go who were negative influences, but I still had some solid people who could be there for me – even if they didn’t really understand what I was struggling with. Yes, it is an isolating journey, and I think friends like you have will be an invaluable asset for you in countering that isolation as you let those feelings out. I mean, the essence of what I learned in a 12 step program for those who grew up with alcoholism was “Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust, Don’t Feel” and those were the family rules I was trying to overcome.

I hope this helps, and I know with your great therapist, you are setting a platform from which you can confront those old feelings and bleed them from your system! They do eventually go away – I’m living proof. I just turned 59 (yes, the age my Dad was when he died) and I plan to be a 90 year old guy, writing books and doing Tai Chi. When I went for my physical last year, the doc said “so other than a few allergies, you have nothing wrong with you.” It took a while for the power of that statement to sink in – all the old ailments I was accumulating while stuffing those feelings have gone away, and I am in a whole new space!
Regards,
Dan Hays

—–

Footnote: I just went back and looked, and I received the email with this question on April 21, 2009.  I have stayed in regular contact with this person, and since overcoming the fear of the pain, this person has made huge strides in getting past some substantial abuse issues from the past.  It is a real life example where confronting the fear is easier than the continuous effort needed to try to avoid it!  Avoiding the buildup of “the poison … that will rot my soul” – great way to put it!

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This Anger Contract was my response to the events chronicled in my previous post, “The Betrayal.” A bogus Intervention had been done to me, and had forced me to get in touch with deep anger that I had been trying to release for several years.  I knew I needed to do something radical to handle the situation, to be able to process my anger, yet not hurt anyone in the process.  I had prepared contracts as a part of my job, and it suddenly occurred to me to prepare this contract.  I knew if I committed to this document, I would honor it.

I had the original of this document signed by two people as witnesses.  These two people knew all the participants, and had been involved in the party that led to the event.  They were also the two people in whose arms I cried deeply about the horror of that evening. Heartfelt thanks to those two people – you know who you are.

I adhered to this contract for 2 years.  The full events of that time will be included in my future book, “The Tiger Unveiled.”

DAN L. HAYS

ANGER CONTRACT

AND

SELF COMMITMENT

August 1, 1988

County of Harris

State of Texas

Whereas I, Dan Hays, attest that the following conditions and circumstances exist and did occur.

1.  On the night of July 23, 1988, a group of six people came to my house late at night, woke me up and got me out of bed.  As a group they took me to Denny’s and did an Intervention on me.  The stated purpose was to confront my pattern of backing away from friends.

In the course of this Intervention, these people did express issues for which they were angry at me and hurt by me.  Each of these persons was in a high state of personal distress.  They projected numerous of their own personal fears upon me.  They cast numerous accusations at me, which would only appropriately be addressed with each person singly.  By nonobjection by the group to said accusations, the group gave power and group approval of and acceptance of those accusations.  They gave me no positive feedback, and no support for what I might be feeling.

I later discovered that the basis of this action was a rumor which had been spread – publicly to a larger group, to my embarrassment, that I was at home contemplating suicide.  This rumor had no basis in reality.

Another party who was not present for any of the previous actions, and had not been around me for three weeks, called my sponsor and alerted him that I was in a critical state of emotional distress.

All of the above parties, those who came to my house, and the one who called my sponsor, will hereinafter be referred to as The Abusers.

2.  I have had a pattern of verbal abuse of people in the past, caused by low impulse control, which manifests itself as “angry words hastily spoken.”  In this pattern I use my intellect, my ready access to words and verbal expression, and my anger to abuse and hurt others.  My mouth goes off and my brain shuts off.

People have learned to fear me because of this pattern.

3.  Another pattern of abuse I have had is one of “the silent treatment,” in which I will not speak to a person, but my great personal anger manifests itself through “The Look,” and people actually fear my anger.  They fear the time when my anger will explode and lead to the verbal abuse.  I suspect people even fear me physically.  I know it because it was the way I feared my Father;  I know how it feels, and have seen that fear in the eyes of others, toward me.

4.  In January I did a 5th step on my anger toward my Dad.  I continued through the 7th Step and asked God to remove that anger.

5.  I recently read before another person, in the form of a grief therapy matrix what I call The Gun Incident.  I had remembered the incident in January, and in it, my Father beat and abused me severely, threatening to kill me with a hunting rifle with which I had seen him kill deer.  The number one listed loss I suffered from that incident had been my belief in my right to be angry.

6.  I had been working with a sponsor for two and a half years who was familiar with my pattern of avoidance of direct anger toward my Father, and who felt after hearing the full details of the Intervention incident that I had a complete right to be angry about what happened, and encouraged me to begin to express my anger in appropriate ways.

7.  In my opinion several of the Abusers were angry with me prior to the Intervention for issues I had with each of them singly, and wish to have me express my anger so they can feel justified in expressing their anger.  I believe anger was also a motivation for the Intervention.

The Abusers have in my opinion begun in subtle ways, and may be expected to continue, to provoke my anger with regard to the Intervention incident – with provocative statements, and even in one case, directly trying to get me to say I was angry.  The subconscious purpose of this is to expiate their guilt and shame with regard to said Intervention.

Given that all these conditions exist, I am experiencing extreme anger.  It is my sincere desire to only express that anger in appropriate ways, to not give any person further cause to fear me because of my anger.  Yet also, I have been one who has expressed anger, and no longer wish to express anger for the group, thereby allowing and enabling them to repress theirs.  I’m tired of carrying this group’s anger.

In an anger slip with happened several weeks ago, I hurt someone I loved, very deeply;  it affected me deeply, because for the first time I saw and felt the pain I had caused, in the eyes of the other person.  Behavior of that kind is unacceptable to me on any level.  I am willing to go to any lengths to stamp out this anger and verbal abuse pattern, yet while unburdening myself of the anger I still carry.  I know much of it is about my Father; he is dead and I can’t hurt him with my anger any longer.

Yet The Abusers are alive, all people whom I still love very deeply, and though I have a right to be angry, hurting them through compulsive patterns in response to my anger is unacceptable, because I lose – by letting my anger rule me, and by possibly causing irreparable harm to relationships.  I too, fear myself and my anger.

Because all these conditions exist, and are alarmingly volatile to me, I hereby make a commitment until August 1, 1989, at which time I will renegotiate this contract, either to extend it, or to terminate it.  The conditions I commit to are:

1.  I will not speak to any of The Abusers about the Intervention incident until it doesn’t matter any more.

2.  I will not knowingly put myself in any situation where I will or may speak from anger.  If I find myself in such a potential situation, I will remove myself immediately.

3.  I will not share in meetings about this incident, unless I can be clear that I am not indulging in hidden agendas of divulging my anger, by sending messages indirectly to any of the parties involved.

4.  Should any of The Abusers wish to talk to me, and it becomes apparent that they wish to talk about The Intervention Incident, I will request that I be allowed 10 minutes before hearing them.  During that time I will attempt to determine if I am in an angry state, and if so, will decline to listen.  If I agree and I begin to experience anger, I will immediately withdraw from the situation.

5.  Where necessary, I will remain completely silent, and hereby put a “gag order” on myself, rather than continue the abuse.

6.  Insofar as it is possible for me, I will attempt not to wear “The Look,” or to express anger by the silent treatment.  If I discover myself doing so, I will withdraw myself from the situation, and process the anger.

7.  I will use all methods now learned by me for appropriate expressions of anger, to dissipate this terrible load of anger I carry.  This includes angry letters not to be mailed, beating on the bed with the racket, yelling in the truck, further 12 step work if necessary, the boxing gym, yelling in the presence of a neutral observer at an empty chair symbolically containing the object of my anger, and any other methods which my Higher Power reveals to me.

8.  I will talk and keep talking to appropriate people about the past abuse I endured, the Intervention, which is still a hideous hurt for me

9.  Should I wish to waive any conditions of this contract, I will wait 5 days, and talk to at least 3 people about my reasons for feeling it necessary to abrogate this commitment.

I have been badly damaged and hurt by anger, both by my Father, and by The Abusers.  I have a right to my anger, all of it, and it is fully justified. But that anger does not justify the hurtful and damaging expressions of anger to which I have resorted in the past.  Those patterns are unacceptable, and will not be tolerated.  Let it end here.

I hereby solemnly agree and pledge to abide by the conditions of this self contract.  Signed this day,  _________________, until August 1, 1989.

____________________

Dan L. Hays

WITNESS:

_______________________

WITNESS:

_______________________

I next responded to the people in an appropriate way, in “The Intervention – Response Letter.”

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