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“The Never Ending Story”: 1in6 Thursdays on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog

I’m one of those people whose desk has countless stacks of things I want to get to tomorrow, next week….or someday. There are also all the little objects that I need to put away or file. I guess it represents just how messy life can be and that we always have undone things in life. The other day my wife brought to my attention that it was getting out of control. As I began to clear away the rubble (think tornado), I saw this stack of “stuff” underneath papers. It is in fact exactly the picture you see here, except I admit I did move the wrenches so you could read the title of my book.

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It got me thinking about life, healing and purpose. I tell people that healing is not a destination, but a journey. I realized this was a picture of life. So here is what I see and what it means to me. At the bottom is the book that is the story of facing life after years—decades—of dissociation. I lived i,t and then wrote it on paper—first for myself, and then to share with others. I am so glad to have a living record of that period in my life. I never want to forget those discoveries and how I felt about them at the time, and hopefully others find value in sharing that experience as well.

Next I see the wrenches. They remind me that we are never just “fixed.” Often we are either too tight or too loose and we need to be adjusted to find good balance. I will say that I am glad they are both ratchets, to make the adjustments easier than a plain old box wrench.

Off to one side I noticed a gas canister for my obsolete Porter Cable Bammer finish nailer. I bought it before I owned a compressor for nail guns. At the time I figured it would be a good short cut to buying a compressor, hoses and different guns and then hauling all of that around. I find two lessons here. First is that there are no short cuts in life that are lasting. On the other hand sometimes we need a little “push” or propellant to get to the next step.

The band-aid is pretty obviously for the cuts and scrapes we get along the way. Those little “owies” can come from a variety of places or people and are not real serious, but they bleed just the same.

The bottle there is a natural product called Rescue Remedy. Now here is a dang interesting thing for a survivor to have on his desk. It was created to deal with emergencies and crises. It can be used to help us get through any stressful situations, including stress or traumatic situations like an exam, shock, a car accident or…. Just a drop on the tongue and it is supposed to calm you. I also think it is important to share that it is a type of healing that is outside my frame of reference, but one I learned from listening to my daughter. That is new behavior for this man!

The thumb drive, or memory stick, was sitting a few inches away and I threw it in before I took the picture. The book represents my trauma and my initial recovery of that. The memory stick is more, much more. As I have traveled further on my path I find that opening earlier memories and cleaning the taint of abuse off them is now important to me. I want to be able to feel the joy of so many memories that were lost or buried beneath my abuse. I loved youth group and church camp at the coast. I loved youth choir. I met lots of wonderful people whose memories have been stored with that ick feeling. There were fun times that are shrouded with that all encompassing shame. I had jobs I was good at and worked with people I liked that are hidden in the fog. The abuse worked in my life like tentacles wrapping around everything, good and bad, and dragging them down.

I want to uncover it all and take ownership of what is rightfully mine. I want to be aware of how I really feel about my life experiences and not to confuse that with what he did to me. I am taking the memories back to feel the joys and sorrows, highs and lows of my life. I am reclaiming my history. I am reclaiming my life.

Read more on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog.

By Randy Ellison


Speaker, writer and author of the book Boys Don’t Tell: Ending the Silence of Abuse, Randy Ellison is a child sexual abuse victim’s advocate and an activist promoting cultural change working with local, state and national organizations. He addresses abuse prevention and healing for survivors from a survivor’s perspective. Randy is a member of the Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force. He is a founding member and former board president of OAASIS, Oregon Abuse Advocates and Survivors in Service.

Randy recently received the Diane Sandler Award for his work in education, awareness and prevention of sexual violence in Southern Oregon.