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