This post is part 1 of 4 in the series Background.

What sexual molestation by church choir directors and a summer church camp director
Dates Summers of 1963–1968 (age 12–17)
Coping strategies
  • questioning authority, avoiding authority, placating authority, waiting/not waiting for authority to tell me what to do
  • achieve safety by controlling situations; lead by command and control
  • win acceptance by achieving (being the best) and doing (lots of projects)
  • avoiding silence, not speaking up for myself, not discussing undiscussables

2001. I started studying my family relationships and stories. I began to see how I was reliving these traumatic experiences and relationship patterns and how the reliving influenced my self-esteem, my views of others and the world.

In 2002, I decided to undergo a treatment called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way. I then began looking at the triggers that start the story again and developed a new stories about the trauma.

September 2003, joining two groups at once — starting grad school and a new job at the Los Angeles Master Chorale, each with unique stresses — provided a complex laboratory to explore this. I had the reflection time between monthly school sessions to help me see triggers there, and after I quit the Chorale job at Thanksgiving 2004, I had the reflection time needed to study my patterns there.

Throughout this exploration, I could tie each new trigger back to my family coping strategies or the childhood trauma (my “double-whammy” as the psychologist labels it). Sometimes it wouldn’t be readily apparent, and after some digging I could find the familiar patterns.

Gifts from this experience
  • giving voice to those who are not heard
  • active listening, open questions
  • self-organizing, leader-filled groups
  • collaboration
  • creating safety in groups