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Archive for the ‘Recovery’ Category

When I began to explore the topic of my writer’s block, I published chapters as I wrote them in Life As A Human magazine. I did that to help me stay focused on the real story in what was a complex and intricate topic, and keep me moving forward with the writing project.  I published 29 chapters that way, and then I was able to see the best way to finish the book.

My friend Karen told me several years ago that she thought Healing The Writer might be the most powerful book I would ever write. Back in April, I read the polished first draft, then set it aside. I think it has taken me six months to fully appreciate the magnitude of the healing journey I chronicled.

Late last night I watched the end of Mr. Holland’s Opus, where he gets to conduct the symphony he spent years writing, played by former students. The final shot in the movie is a closeup of him with a powerful look of serenity on his face – like he accepted what he had created. I think I saw it that way because I had felt myself coming to that same point.

I picked up the Healing The Writer manuscript today and began reading it once more, with an eye to editing needed. I’m ready, and it’s time.

 

Below is the Table of Contents, along with links to the first 29 chapters. (The chapters are in reverse order by publication date in the magazine, and this will give a better idea of how to follow the flow of the book).

Healing The Writer

The desire to express, I was taught to repress,

 Has caused me a block, I wish to unlock.

I pick up the pen, I start writing again.

 I feel the flow -

        And then I stop.

   – Dan Hays October 1986

Part One – Search For Peace

One: Why Is This Fantastic News So Scary?

Two: What To Put On Paper?

Three: I Find My Writing Voice

Four: I Hide Out To Write A Book

Five: Scared To Put It In The Mail

Six: I Walk Away From Publication

Part Two – Nothing Left to Lose

Seven: Ghosts Of The Wheat Harvest

Eight: The Query Letter and The Question

Nine: I Abandon A Book – Again!

Part Three – What Mamaw Said

Ten: They’ll Call You Crazy – And Lock You Up!

Eleven: I Capture The Writing Vision

Twelve: The Creative River Flows Once More

Thirteen: The Writer’s Conference and the Fear

Fourteen: What Is It About That Particular Park?

Fifteen: I Can Have You Committed

Sixteen: The Fear And The Light!

Seventeen: Breaking Through – Moving Beyond Writer’s Block

Part Four – Down To The Roots

Eighteen: Red Rocks and Remembering: A Writer’s Road Trip

Nineteen: A Writer’s Journey of Inspiration

Twenty: The Landscape of a Writer

Twenty One: Publishing a Book: Getting One Step Closer

Twenty Two: A Disappointed Writer and a Backup Plan

Twenty Three: The Fearful Writer – Monsters in the Closet

Twenty Four: How My Writing Got Locked Up

Part Five – Freedom’s Just Another Word

Twenty Five: Insomnia – A Writer’s Night Journey

Twenty Six: Confronting the Fear – A Writer Prepares to Publish

Twenty Seven: “I’d Like To Read Your Manuscript.”

Twenty Eight A: A Writer Revisits High School – Part One

Twenty Eight B: A Writer Revisits High School – Part Two

Twenty Nine: I Am A Published Author

Thirty: A Hopeful Omen

Thirty One: Publicity Can Be Rewarding – Or Maybe Not!

Thirty Two: The Origin of Minute To Freedom

Part Six – Moving To The Light

Thirty Three: I Combine Publicity And Therapy

Thirty Four: Healing The Wounded Child

Thirty Five: Preparing To Leave The Dark Closet

Thirty Six: Independence Day

Thirty Seven: Little Danny Set Free

Thirty Eight: The “Don’t” Messages – Deep Damage Healed

Thirty Nine: Deep Healing and Destiny Arising

Forty: The Terror of the Dark Death

Part Seven – Free To Write

Forty One: Writing For Publication as a Healing Tool

Forty Two: Killing The Octopus

Forty Three: A Sign of Healing – The Poetry Returns

Forty Four: Am I Able To Work – As A Writer?

Forty Five: A Sign of Healing – I Become a Freelance Writer

Forty Six: Epilogue

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I’m getting closer to publishing my next memoir, Healing The Writer. I put it on my website today as “Coming Soon,” with the front cover I plan to use. DanLHays.com

The woman who edited my first book said she thought this would be one of the most powerful books I would ever publish. I didn’t get it at the time, but I’m beginning to understand what she meant. I’m about to read the whole manuscript for the first time. I published the first 29 chapters on Life As A Human magazine, but have been letting them get cold while I wrote the final chapters.

Book Cover Cropped

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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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“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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This letter was written in response to a bogus intervention, as chronicled in the post “The Betrayal.”

What I did to deal with my anger is written in the post “The Anger Contract.”

My sponsor in one of the 12 step programs, after finding out the details of the night the group took me to Denny’s, encouraged me not to be silent – but to confront the offenders, in an appropriate way. I was so angry I didn’t feel safe trying to talk to them in person.  So I began to write a letter to each of them.  I wrote and discarded 4 or 5 versions, each a little less angry and confrontive.  But they helped me get some of the feelings out of my system, so I could write a more appropriate version.  I let it sit for several days.  Then I had several people read it to ensure it was a balanced response. I hand wrote and mailed a copy to each of the six people who had been at Denny’s and saying things to me that night.

The letter follows:

August 12, 1988

Dear ______,

The time when the group of you came to my house and took me to Denny’s has been a devastating emotional experience for me.

That day I had been in great pain.  I came home (from the party) because it was right for me.  I was vulnerable, and I needed space.

When you all came to my house, you each looked so agitated, I was mistrustful.  I felt invaded, unsafe.

When you said you were doing this out of love, but what I felt was your fear and anger, I became confused, disoriented.  My child ran and hid.

I felt attacked, accused, with no one to support me, protect me, defend me, affirm me.  I felt alone, so alone.

I felt betrayed, rejected.

When I looked in your eyes and it seemed you didn’t believe what I said about my reality, it hurt me deeply, and I later cried like my soul was dying.  That really hurt.  I did not feel heard.

The message I received was that you did not think I could take care of myself.  I felt discounted.  I was insulted.  I found out later that what fueled your action was talk at _____’s party that I might be at home contemplating suicide.

I was humiliated.

Then I grew angry!

VERY angry.  How dare you, etc, etc ….

I am angry still.

So I say, I love you, and I am angry with your behavior.

I believe your actions were inappropriate, impulsive, and improperly motivated.

But so have been my old anger reactions.  I am working hard on them, and I pledge to you to do my best to give you no cause to fear my anger.

And this means:

— I will look at you, but not with “The Look” – my angry face.

— I will say hello and acknowledge your presence.

— I may not be able to hug you.

— I may be very quiet for a while, so not to speak in haste.

— I may or may not be able to approach you, but you are free to approach

me if you wish.  If I withdraw, it is because I grow angry and need space.

— I may look sad – seeing you brings up the pain of that horrible lonely night.

— If you wish to express feelings to me, I will listen, but will not respond or

react.  If I am not in a place to receive it, I will tell you so.

I say again, I love you and I am angry with your behavior.

Love,

Dan

—-

Note: In the time since the Intervention and the events that followed, only one of the participants has ever talked with me about it.  He was the prime motivator behind it all.  He owned his part fully, and that what they did was terribly wrong.  “No one deserved what happened to you that night, Dan.”  His words were enormously healing.

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