Monday, January 31, 2011

We Choose To Create Our Day

Book Quote: Hope And Possibility Through Trauma
Author: Don Shetterly
Page 181

Every day we wake up into a world that has not been created at that moment. It is each waking moment, each step we take, and each thought we derive, that creates our day. What we choose to do with it and how we choose to live it, is our choice and our choice alone.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Embrace The Pain - Part 3

This is part 3 of a three part series. Please read Part 1 and Part 2 as background information to this post. Suggestion #1 and Suggestion #2 (click on the links)

Suggestion #3:

Find a quiet place away from distractions. Get comfortable like on a massage table or somewhere where you are supported and it feels good. Begin by just allowing yourself to sense your body and do a scan of all that you are aware of or may not be aware of at this point.

If you have body pains that are surfacing, take a moment to just be there with it and allow your mind to focus on it. If you don't feel any body pains at the moment, just continue to explore your body with your mind and see all that you can pick up. What is tight, tense, soft, hard, cold, warm, heavy, light, and so on and so forth. Just allow yourself to be there in the moment, sensing and feeling and discovering every part of your body that you can find. It may take a few minutes before you start really sensing and feeling anything. Early on, when I began to do this, it took me considerable time to start sensing things in my body.

As you begin to feel whatever it is in your body, use your breath to help you connect with that area of your body. You can picture your breath filling up that area of your body including every cell, tissue and muscle fiber. Allow yourself to focus your attention here and just be here in this moment. Keep focusing and sensing in your body.

Whatever you are picking up, especially if it is pain or an unease, these things may intensify. Often before they dissipate, they will intensify. If it gets too intense, just focus your attention on a place in your body that feels safe or focus on a sound close by or even focus on the space between your eyes.

Some of these things are not always easy to do alone because having a safe person that you trust and that can just hold the space open is very helpful. You can do a considerable amount on your own but if you need a trusted safe person to hold the space for you, by all means invite them into your time of connection.

Remember, our minds are very protective of our bodies and usually the mind knows what the body needs and the body knows what it needs. It is not going to take you further into this process than you are willing to go. Fear may come up as a result of this and as long as you allow yourself to face the fears, than you can continue focusing and moving through whatever it is that you feel.

During all of this, emotions may or may not come up. It is possible that you will feel trembling, shaking or vibration throughout your body. You might feel intense heat, cold or other changes. Your nose might feel very stuffed up. There could be an intensification of the pain in that moment but remember, that often it can intensify just before it dissipates. All of these things are okay and even though it may feel rough in the moment, if you allow them to run their course and dissipate, there will be peace on the other side. It sometimes feel much more intense than it really is and that is usually the fears which are blowing things into a greater proportion than what is truly happening. Keep in mind that this is normal and okay.

Allow the process to unfold and continue. If it gets too intense, just take yourself back to a safe place in your body or focus on a sound or even focus on the space between your eyes. You don't have to do this entire process all at once. Give yourself the necessary time to do what it needs to do rather than pushing or judging the process.

As you continue to allow the process to unfold, your body will experience a deeper connection to your own awareness and healing. Keep your body moving if that means nothing more than stretching and contracting your arms or legs. The more you can get your body to do slight and slow movements during this process, the more all of this potential energy will dissipate from your body. You want the movements to be connected with your mind so that you can feel every part of that movement.

When you get through the moments that have kicked things up inside of you, you will get to a point where the breath will correct itself and often give you a very deep breath like a big sigh of relief almost. You will notice your body dropping down and becoming more relaxed and more peaceful. When you reach this point, allow yourself time to just be in the moment and experience all of this. For the hard work that you go through, the peace is the point that really allows the healing to come in and take hold within your body. It is the time when you process all that has happened and your awareness and consciousness opens up in ways you most likely have not seen.

Remember, don't judge how far you get into this process or if it is right or wrong. Just experience all of it and allow it to be there. What I just described here may take you considerable time and different sessions with yourself to actually get into things and connect with your body. There is no race to the finish because as you become more aware of yourself, you will discover many more layers that you can go into. It is like peeling the layers of an onion. When you peel off one layer, there is another layer below it but you can't see that layer until you peel off the first layer.

Further Reading:
1) Dr. Paul Canali, Evolutionary Healing
2) Fear Of Dentist posted on July 6, 2010
3) Embrace The Pain - Part 1 (Posted 1/28/11)
4) Embrace The Pain - Part 2 (Posted 1/29/11)

Blog Post & Images (c) 1/28/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Embrace The Pain - Part 2

This is part 2 of a three part series. Please read Part 1 as background information to this post.

When you experiencee body pain, keep in mind that pain is the body's messenger. Don't try to ignore it or rush to the medicine cabinet in your house. Instead, take a moment and stop, allowing you to go within yourself.

At this time, consider all that is going on in your life and the events leading up to when you began noticing the pain. The events I am referring to include the emotional stressors or other events that you have experienced. Usually there is a connection between the two and going within to connect this awareness is a powerful healer and game changer.

In the following explanation, here are some things that you can do to help connect your mind and body together. You can be as creative as you want to be and by no means are the following procedures the only way you can do this. This is just a guide and a framework to help you connect your mind and your body. I have included suggestion #1 and suggestion #2 in this post. Come back tomorrow for part 3 of this series where suggestion #3 will be discussed.

Suggestion #1

This is an easier way of quickly connecting the mind to the body and you can do this anywhere you are at. It could be in a chair at your desk, standing in a line at the store, lying in bed at night or just about anywhere. A quiet place can help but I have done this in many places and no one even knows I am doing it.

If you are feeling some pain in the body or just wanting to give yourself a moment of deep connection and relaxation, try this easy method. Focus on the body part and begin directing your breath to that area. You can visualize that you are filling the body part up with your breath as you bring good things into it. Then you can visualize using your exhale to take that which you don't need in your life away. It only takes a few minutes of really focusing your breath with intention to an area of your body and you can bring great change to those areas. I have walked many people through this on a massage chair in a few minutes while getting a chair massage. It is not as hard as it may seem and the more you try it, the easier it will be to do.

Suggestion #2

I got this idea from listening to Eckhart Tolle speak with Oprah about his book "A New Earth". In the short exchange he had with all the listeners, he had everyone spend 30 seconds and just focus on their breath. That was it! We know 30 seconds is not a long time but if you truly just focus on your breath for that short period of time, it will center you and bring you back into your body. You can do this just about anywhere.

Many people never pay attention to their breath and so often, we don't breathe like we need to. We barely pull enough oxygen into our bodies to run our cells and muscles, yet we expect our bodies to perform, nonstop stressful paces during our day. So as you are reading this, take 30 seconds and just focus on your breath. Let me know how you feel after you did this.

Remember, come back tomorrow for part 3 of this series and suggestion #3.

Further Reading:
1) Dr. Paul Canali, Evolutionary Healing
2) Fear Of Dentist posted on July 6, 2010
3) Embrace The Pain - Part 1 (Posted 1/28/11)
4) Embrace The Pain - Part 3 (coming tomorrow)

Blog Post & Images (c) 1/28/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

Friday, January 28, 2011

Embrace The Pain - Part 1

At one time, I could not stand any type of body pain, and I'm sure most people probably do not like body pain either. However, I have learned through some intense healing work with Dr. Canali, that pain is a messenger of the body. It is there for a reason and if we embrace the body pain, we can move toward a greater awareness and consciousness.

Pain is a feedback mechanism from the body and the mind to our consciousness that tells us something needs our attention. If I allow myself to work with the pain and to embrace the pain, it will find its way out, as long as I don't stop it by my fears and unwillingness to let go of what is trying to surface. It is just not productive to focus on wanting to get rid of the pain.

Pain is not present in my life every day but when it comes up, I try to listen to it because it is a messenger. Most people live with pain every day but are not even aware of it in their body. They are not able to see this part but it impacts their life in dramatic ways.

Many times when doing massage work, I have seen first hand the times that people were in deep pain but they just did not feel it. The majority of humans are numb to what they feel, or so overwhelmed by all the pain that the felt sense has been blocked because it can no longer take in everything that is going on. It isn't until some focus is put on the body and the body is listened to that they feel it. Then once they feel it, they have a chance to choose whether to try to ignore it or learn from it. That is the awareness.

For instance, if I get a headache, which is rare these days, it moves through pretty quickly if I just allow myself to be with my body. Allowing myself to feel it, learn from it, question it or just become curious of what I am feeling gives me the ability to move through the headache or the pain. Just like the neck pain that I experienced recently, because I was not listening to my body to get myself away from the computer, and stretching or taking care of myself. The pain forced me to listen even though I did not want to and when I started to listen, I began to dissipate the pain.

Last summer was another example but in this one, I tried to avoid the pain and numb myself to it. I had a tooth that was causing enormous pain, and each night I would go to bed with an ice pack on my face to dull the pain and allow me to sleep. The pain would come back in the middle of the night, but I would just suffer through it. For if I wanted to deal with the pain, it meant that I had to tackle a fear I have of the dentist. This is not an ordinary fear, either, but one that is very powerful. (read Fear Of Dentist from July 6, 2010) It was not until the pain got so intense that I had no other choice but to go in to the dentist, and get the work done which was needed.

That is a simplified example of numbing one's self out to pain, but when pain comes up (if we can feel it), we are better to walk hand in hand with it rather than try to hope it goes away. Pain is a messenger. It is there for a reason.

I remember a few clients that I have had where doing massage on them, I would feel a back or neck or shoulder so tense that a table top would be more pliable than their body. Yet, the people did not even realize that it was this tense or that they were in as much pain as they were. I remember one lady who had a twisted back, and did not realize that the way she was sitting at her desk was twisting her back into daily pain for her to deal with. There are so many examples that I could list here, but I am amazed at just how much we do not sense in these bodies that we inhabit for many years, and we come to know as our lives.

In my own life, I have had many times when I didn't really feel anything and yet that was what I needed to do to move forward in my life. It was easier, I thought, to avoid it rather than deal with it. However, at some point, even though we try to avoid these things in our life, the body will get our attention. Once I did begin to feel it and started to embrace it, I opened myself up to a deeper awareness that is grounded in the body. It isn't just a thought or philosophy, but one that when you feel it in your body, you know without a doubt that you've touched something.

In fact, in 1991, my mind began paralyzing my body as a way to numb myself from so many horrors and pains that I faced. My life reached a point where not only could I not feel a pin being put at the bottom of my feet, but I could barely talk, sit up, move my arms, or function. My brain was shutting my body down because I was not dealing with things in life that I had to deal with. In my case, it was child abuse, but the more I tried to hide the emotions and effects of it, the more I numbed and shut down my own body. The condition the doctors labeled my experience with was a conversion disorder.

Our bodies do store memories and the cells remember things. As one therapist I used to work with said, "there are issues in the tissues!" Trauma, stress, and many other things are stored in the body with a connection to the mind. Treating the mind is only half of the healing equation. Treating the body connected to the mind is healing that moves ourselves into a greater consciousness and awareness. These are all things that I have gone through personally and experienced on the table with Dr. Canali, but I have also seen these connections happen in my clients. I have seen it many times over in many different people.

When we break through the concepts of pain and taking care of our bodies, listening to our bodies, and living in our bodies, then we truly offer ourselves a greater awareness and consciousness. It is life changing in many ways, and often there is a deeper sense of peace and a greater felt sense throughout your body. In addition, by becoming more aware of the bodies we inhabit, we give ourselves a much greater control over our health that leads to us tapping into the healing power within, rather than always looking to others for the answers.

Come back tomorrow for ways in which you can connect your mind and body to embrace the pains you experience and move through them in healing. I'll be writing more about how you can connect your mind and body in a safe, effective way. (read Embrace The Pain, Part 2 tomorrow)

Further Reading:
1) Dr. Paul Canali, Evolutionary Healing
2) Fear Of Dentist posted on July 6, 2010
3) Embrace The Pain - Part 2 (Posted 1/29/11)
4) Embrace The Pain - Part 3 (Posted 1/30/11)

Blog Post & Images (c) 1/27/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Different Walk Through Our Life Today

What if today, we took a different walk through our life? By that I mean, everything that we hold to be the gospel truth and the only way we view things, could be dropped for one day. What if we just took all of those things and put it in a very special lock box where we could pick them up at the end of the day.

In replacement of those views and truths we hold dear in our life, we would allow ourselves to ponder everything that we have held at an arms length from our life. We would be curious about alternatives and other ways of viewing that which we are usually against. We would take a moment and listen to view areas that seem completely opposed to every fiber and cell of our life.

Of course, I'm not advocating that you give up all your long held beliefs and truths and wisdom for your life. I am just offering the possibility that for a day, you allow yourself to see things from a different perspective. You give yourself the option of understanding another view point or thought or belief system.

Just think of all that this may do for you and others around you. All to often, we get so caught up in what we have been taught to believe or what news pundits and politicians on TV tell us to believe that we miss the greater point of being a human in this world. We spend way too much time opposing viewpoints that others in this world have rather than opening ourselves up with a listening heart.

No matter who we are, we have these parts of us that are locked in the beliefs system of our lives. Our belief system is essential for us to define who we are but if it becomes who we are, than we have failed to define ourselves. A belief system is something that is constantly evolving because as you discover new worlds, the shoreline of where you traveled from looks amazingly different.

Give yourself the opportunity to travel from your current shoreline to a place you have never seen and be curious about it in a way that allows you to see a new perspective. At the end of the day, you will of course be free to open your lock box and pull out all your treasured beliefs, thoughts and views. However, there is a chance that some of these things will look different than they did when you put them in there.

Blog Post & Images (c) 1/25/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Judgment Is For Those That Want To Be Judged

Judgment Is For Those That Want To Be Judged - That's the first tweet I sent out on my new twitter account @mindbodythought . While it may seems pretty straight forward, there have been multiple instances lately where people felt it was their duty, responsibility and life mission to judge me. Yet, in most of the circumstances, I found it to be disrespectful and hurtful. These people did not see it that way of course.

I have been wondering with curiosity just why this same scenario has played out more than once. It seems peculiar to me and so I have stopped and let my mind think on this. Maybe it is just coincidence that it happened so many times all of the sudden but somehow, I believe when things like this repeat, there is a reason for it. In this case, it is either something I am supposed to learn or something I am clearing out from my life and moving on.

Growing up, we lived in a very judgmental house which went to a very judgmental church and just about everything I heard every day was in some way judging others. If it was not something one person was doing that my family did not like, it was some other instance or event or person, place or thing. It really did not matter what it was but it was almost like judging others around us was as important as breathing.

This of course carried on to church where the minister and people of the church sat in constant judgment of its members. You were taught to believe and act in certain ways lest ye not be judged! Yet, didn't the Bible say, "judge not, lest ye be judged". I guess that part of the bible must not have had as much importance. Oh sure, if you went in and confronted everyone about this, no one would acknowledge or understand that they were judging anyone. In fact, you would be the one feeling wrong and out of place if you ever attempted to bring this subject up.

You were taught not to question the authority in the church and to just accept it as if it was as true as the words you read in the bible. In many ways, how you viewed what was written in the bible and spoken in church was through the method of what the church said was right and anything you believed must match up to their interpretation of said beliefs. As much as the church wanted you to think that you were using your own free will and your own brain to evaluate things, those that did not believe and follow the church were not close with the rest of the members. It was very subtle but very profound in how this happened.

Many people do this very same thing today in our society. Often no one is even aware they are doing it because it is so common place for them. Churches do it without flinching and even the members of the church would not even recognize it if a billboard was placed up in front of their church. It of course carries over into politics, society, family, laws, friendships, relationships and just about anything that we do. It is such a part of our fabric and yet in many ways, when we judge others, we sit in judgment of ourselves.

I have even seen some new age philosophies and healing practices that have worked hard to not be the same as a church or to believe in what the church believes. However, these same people are doing some of the same things but they just give it different names and more enlightened subjects. Of course, if you tried to bring it to their attention, you would be met with a force and resistance like no one has ever seen. Much of these new age movements involve sitting in judgment of others but doing so through a very subtle way. They appear as if they hold the answers to what is going to happen or to how you should live your life or even what healing modalities that you should use. Unfortunately, because people have been so conditioned to being judged and not trusting their own brain, intuition and insight, they follow these new age leaders with passion.

It is not just church either. Take any of the news pundits on TV from any of the news channels. You will see dynamic, out spoken people that appear to be authorities on how you should view politics, the news and the world. They expound upon these ideals, write books, give speeches and are constantly critical of everything taking place they do not agree with. At no time, do you see these people truly sitting down and listening to another person's point of view that is opposing to their view. Sure, they all have some poll or evidence or passion to back up what they say but when you get down to it, there is a strong judgment being rendered against anyone who does not believe in the way that they do.

We all need to take a step back as individuals and as a society or even as a world and evaluate how we are judging others around us. It may be through our thoughts or actions. It might be through our words or our silence. We may feel it is our God given right to let people know how they are failing in life according to our standards and beliefs. Just because a person says nice things or says things that seem to have an element of truth to them does not necessarily make these statements worthy of giving away our power.

At the beginning of this, I said that sometimes when situations arise, it makes me go in and question it with curiosity. I'm not exactly sure why these situations keep arising for me but one thing I am learning is that I do not have to respond to them. If someone has been brainwashed into believing what they believe, you are not going to change their mind. They are fixated on these things and the forces within these belief systems is strong. Yes, I know there are times that I really want to respond but if I did so, I would end up doing nothing different than what these people are doing to me. If I do not want to be judged, than it makes sense that I should not sit there in judgment.

We all have to answer for our own lives and the choices or decisions we make. The more we question our beliefs and our actions in life, the more we will truly come to know who we are as humans and as individuals. The answers to our questions in life do not come from others who are charismatic or who seem to hold the answers. The answers come from within us. The answers are part of who we are and all we need to do is to seek them out. Of course, you can search for them in churches, in new age philosophies, in the media or in many other places but at the end of the day, what matters is what you find within your mind and your body and your spirit.

For Further Reading:
1) Ask Questions Within
2) Are You Brainwashed

Blog Post & Images (c) 1/21/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Male Survivor, Ray Dotch on Gayle King

Ray Dotch, was the producer from the Oprah show that called and initially interviewed me for the Male Survivor show that Oprah did. I was so impressed with Ray because he was so sensitive, caring and compassionate. It wasn't easy talking to a total stranger and sharing some of the most intimate details of my abuse.

Ray seemed to understand as I was describing some of these events. Little did I fully know at the time just how much he understood. When we got to the taping of the show, Oprah explained how he had come out to her the night before about his own abuse. Seeing him sitting in the audience and sharing some of his story was a moment I will never forget.

In fact, the entire experience of being part of the 200 men who spoke out against child abuse was something that still has a profound effect upon me today. Seeing men who are male survivors come forward and begin to heal brings joy to my heart that this experience was worth every moment of the emotional roller coaster that I went through.

I'm proud that Ray and many others, including myself, had the courage to come out in such a public way and let the world know that child abuse was not okay and that those who have been through this are not alone. I'm proud of Oprah for doing this show and giving it the much needed attention it deserves. There are other TV shows out there that make a mockery out of male survivors to get ratings but Oprah and Ray Dotch along with their entire staff did an excellent job of respecting those of us who have experienced child abuse.

Listen to the clip from the Gayle King show

Ray Dotch Takes A Stand Against Male Sexual Abuse

For Further Reading:
Oprah Tyler Perry and 200 Male Survivors Stand Together

Blog Post & Images (c) 1/24/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

Monday, January 24, 2011

Turning Points and Manifesting Change

In reading the book "Manifesting Change" by Mike Dooley, I read a part that at first I thought didn't apply to me. As I went through the exercise on page 69, I realized that yes, it does apply. In fact, I did not realize it was a turning point for me. The events were personal and I'd rather not share them publicly but until I sat down and did this exercise, I had almost missed the significance of them.

In the exercise, you start by listing the turning point in your life, hopefully one that has recently taken place. Then, you list the circumstances that led you to this turning point. Lastly, you write down all the ways that this has affected your life. It is a rather simple exercise that shows you a great deal about a turning point in your life that you might otherwise miss. In fact, it helps you see other things that may very likely give you more insight into the future of your life and how you manifest change.

On page 71, I liked his quote "Settle for nothing less and behave as if you knew your success was inevitable." This is such a profound quote and yet it is so simple.

Continuing on page 71, he also states, "the only other thing required of you is that you show up, taking action in the general direction of your dreams so that you can meet with "accidents" and "serendipities" that will allow the Universe's plan to unfold without a hitch."

Wow.. one of those ah ha moments in life! Sometimes it is not easy to follow one's dreams and inner prompting of where you are going. Sometimes it takes forever to get there and there are challenges along the way. If we show up, take action towards the general directions of our dreams, things will unfold. We do not need to know the steps we have to take, we just need to be willing to walk the path.

For Further Reading (More Blog Posts About Manifesting Change)
1) Using A GPS To Find Your Path In Life
2) Understanding How Life Works
3) Ask Questions Within

Blog Post & Images (c) 1/24/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Holding On and Not Letting Go

One of the things that I struggle with in life is letting go. I learned from my mom that people can hold a grudge. I loved my mom but it is one of the traits that she taught me and one of the hardest parts of myself that I give up at times.

I doubt I'm alone in this so I thought I would share a Buddhist story I've heard. I have no idea where this comes from but it is my best recollection of what I have heard before. If this is the work of some author, please let me know who you are and I will credit you for this.

Here's what I remember of the little story about letting go that I heard.

Two monks were traveling along the countryside and came to a river. A lady was afraid to cross the river alone and so she asked the monks if they could carry her across. One monk quickly said yes and put her on his shoulders as he crossed the river. When he got to the other side, he put her down and continued on his way.

As they walked along, the other monk was fuming and brooding about what had just happened. He began to question the other monk. Stating to the other monk that they had taken a vow to never touch a women and how could he pick the woman up and carry her without feeling shame and guilt for what he had done.

Finally the other monk looked at the one who was struggling with this issue and said, "I set her down on the other side of the river. Why are you still carrying her?"

What a great story to help teach us how to let go. A friend of mine was talking about this to me the other day and it helped remind me of just how much I hold on to in life at times. May we all be like the other monk that set the woman down and continued his own walk. May I continually remind myself to set the woman down and continue my own walk each and every day.

Blog Post & Images (c) 1/20/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sexual Abuse Effects Lessened by Massage

According to a study done at the Touch Research Institute with Dr. Tiffany Fields, women who had experienced sexual abuse found the effects were lessened by massage therapy. In 1996, a study involving 20 women with an average age of 35 years, were given a 30 minute massage twice a week for one month.

Immediately after the massage, the participants reported being less depressed, less anxious and their salivary cortisol levels decreased. Over the one month duration of receiving massage, the participants reported a decrease in depression and life event stress. Although the relaxation therapy control group also reported a decrease in anxiety and depression, their stress hormones did not change, and they reported an increasingly negative attitude towards touch.

Being an abuse survivor myself, I do recognize just how difficult it is to begin receiving massage work. The very first time that I tried to have a massage was on a cruise ship and I actually thought it was all about sex as many people tend to think it is. When I realized that it was not about sex and that it actually felt good to be touched, I experienced a degree of relaxation that I had not felt before.

Even with the good experience of getting the first massage, my mind always saw massage as a trigger back to past experiences that were not favorable. Even though my body was very tense, my muscles were tight and painful and my life was filled with stress, massage was not an option. I did not feel safe around anyone that was doing it and tended to discount any thought of getting a massage. I completely understand when other survivors are afraid to be touched.

My next attempt at massage started out better but by the end of the third massage, I got triggered badly. It wasn't anything the therapist was doing but unfortunately they weren't able to realize I had been triggered and so I laid there receiving the massage while being completely out of my body and not present. I never went back to the therapist and did not go back to a massage for a long time.

It wasn't until I started to think about going to massage school (of all places for me to go) that I went in and had another massage. This time, a guy was doing it and was actually one of these that applies a lot of pressure. I really didn't feel much of it. It took many months of being in massage school where I began to truly feel touch.

Since that time, I have made tremendous strides through healing and accepting touch within my own body through the Trager (TM) approach and through Unified Therapy with Dr. Paul Canali. Both have helped me release some of the trauma I went through and now my body does like to be touched. I am cautious though in who I allow to touch me but when I do get body work done on me, it is a good feeling now.

I am happy to see research being done on the area of healing, touch and massage therapy. The Touch Research Institute is a great place that is doing some tremendous research in this area. I also want to be a catalyst in helping other abuse survivors realize that touch can be a good thing even if you think there is no way on earth you can do bodywork. I've learned a form of bodywork that is not regular massage but it meets you where ever you are at and works from that point forward.

Abstract For The article cited above


Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Hart, S., Quintino, O., Drose, L., Field, T., Kuhn, C., & Schanberg, S (1997). Effects of sexual abuse are lessened by massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 1, 65-69.

Women who had experienced sexual abuse were given a 30-minute massage twice a week for 1 month. Immediately after the massage the women reported being less depressed and less anxious and their salivary cortisol levels decreased following the session. Over the 1-month treatment period the massage therapy group experienced a decrease in depression and in life event stress. Although the relaxation therapy control group also reported a decrease in anxiety and depression, their stress hormones did not change, and they reported an increasingly negative attitude toward touch.

For More Information:
1) Journal Of Bodywork Article about sexual abuse and massage
2) Touch Research Institute with Dr. Tiffany Fields, Univ of Miami
3) The Trager (TM) Approach
4) Dr. Paul Canali and Unified Therapy
5) Healing bodywork with Don Shetterly

Blog Post & Images (c) 1/20/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

Friday, January 21, 2011

Too Much Salt In Our Diet

According to the website of the American Heart Association, most Americans consume over 3400 mg of salt (sodium) daily. The recommended daily intake of sodium is less than 1500 mg per day to help prevent or lower high blood pressure. The amount of sodium and salt used in the US food supply makes this difficult to achieve. Up to 75% of the sodium that people consume comes from salt added to processed foods by manufacturers.

In our food supply, sodium is used as a preservative to inhibit the the growth of bacteria in food, enhance the flavor, binds ingredients, enhances color and acts as a stabilizer. While sodium is an essential nutrient, very little is needed in the diet.

Sodium comes from natural sources or is added to food. Most food contains some sodium. While some sodium is added to foods for safety reasons, the amount added to processed food goes above and beyond what is needed.

Some major food sources of sodium
-Tomato Sauce
-Canned Foods
-Prepared mixes

One of the best things you can do is read the labels. When you go grocery shopping, spend a moment to see what ingredients are in the product you are buying. Learn to understand how much sugar, fat, sodium and other things are in what you are consuming. If you start to read the labels, you will be surprised at some of these things. Even in the products that claim to be "healthy alternatives", they are not always as good as they make themselves appear. It is eye opening when you start reading the label.

There is a lot more information on the American Heart Association website about sodium and its affects but here are a few more tidbits of information.
-1/4 teaspoon of salt = 600 mg sodium
-Low sodium designation on food labels means there is 140 mg or less per serving
-Some medications contain high amounts of sodium

Here are some ways to reduce sodium in your diet.
1) Choose fresh vegetables instead of processed vegetables
2) Select unsalted nuts or seeds, beans, peas and lentils
3) Limit salty snacks like pretzels or chips
4) Avoid adding salt to cooked dishes
5) Select fat free or low free dairy products
6) Learn to use spices and herbs to enhance the taste of food
7) Add fresh lemon to fish and vegetables to enhance the taste
8) When dining out, ask to have your food prepared without added salt.
9) Don't use the salt shaker

Remember that too much salt in a diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke. By monitoring your salt intake, you can reduce the amount you consume and lower your risk for these conditions.

Sodium is an acquired taste. As you begin to reduce your salt intake, you will notice how more of the true flavor of foods comes out when you eat. Your taste sensitivities will adapt in about 8 to 12 weeks but once they do, an entirely new world of food flavors will open up to you.

For more information:

Blog Post & Images (c) 1/20/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Living As A Highly Sensitive Person

Often times, it is not easy being a highly sensitive person. I am one of those people! You know, the HSP - highly sensitive persons. At one time I just thought it was a curse but now I'm learning that it does have a positive side.

When I talk about being sensitive, I mean really SENSITIVE and EMOTIONAL about things that may seem little and insignificant to most are like floods of input to me. There are many examples of just how sensitive I get. It may range from feeling like something such as a pet rock or plant is just as alive and full of emotion as a human to picking up the emotions of people I know or meet or walk past in the store. It does include my sensitivity to things around me that most cannot see like the angelic or spirit world. It is much more than that of course because the little things that seem insignificant and go unnoticed in a day are big things to me.

Some days I pick up so much that it can get overwhelming. When it gets overwhelming, I am like a turtle that just wants to crawl back into its shell and hide for the next thousand eons. When that happens, I want nothing to do with anyone except my cats and other inanimate objects or nature. Anyone that pushes me to be with them or to function in their world is just driving me deeper into my turtle shell.

Fortunately though, I am learning more how to deal with these things. I've learned that I can release the little things that build up within me through my practice of the Unified Therapy techniques I have learned. Also, I know more how to manage myself by taking time away and just spending time in nature. Nature is one of my renewal techniques that seems to put everything back into perspective and balance. It realigns me in ways that so much other stuff cannot. The sunshine is a wonderful companion to me and energizing in so many ways.

I remember growing up where it would get so overwhelming and I would run into my room crying that no one cared about me and no one loved me. It was moments where I could take no more and my sensitivity was at an all time high. I remember my mom coming in and holding me and just letting me know she loved me. Of course, my father would try to act sensitive but then after my experiences on a daily basis with him, he seemed inauthentic. Other members of my family were like foreign monsters to me at times because the world I lived in was completely different than the world they lived in.

For others around me, I'm sure it is difficult to live with me because when the sensitive side begins to take over, I'm done until I emerge back into a normal life. Some understand it more than others but in those times, I just need to know that others love and care about me but allow me to just be in that moment. Normally I pull through these rough moments but they do get intense.

While I really hated this side of me for a long time, I began to learn in life that it has positive aspects. In one way, I use this to help me in my healing work that I do because I truly sense and pick up some very deep things in people just as if they may be experiencing them in the moment. It also helps me in my creative work because I am a highly creative person in writing such as this blog, my book, music and just my approach to life. It also helps me to see a different side of the world where people who are busy screaming and looking out for themselves do not usually see. If there weren't people like us highly sensitive people in the world, the earth would tip off of its axis and fall into space.

According to Elaine Aron who wrote the book, The Highly Sensitive Person, 15-20% of the population is considered to be a highly sensitive person. She states that in the book that it is a normal trait for those of us who are HSP (Highly Sensitive Persons) and that it is biological. A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is more aware of subtleties (just like I was sharing about myself) and is more easily overwhelmed.

So if you are one of these people that others may look at and think you are just way too sensitive, fear not, for you are normal. Learning about the trait and learning how to embrace it, live with it and deal with it can be a challenge. However, the more you learn to embrace it, the more it provides for you in many aspects of your life. Often a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is misunderstood but just know that you are normal and you're not the only one out there! At one time, I would never have admitted this either but I'm at a point now in my life where I'm not ashamed to say that I am a HSP!

If you know you are a highly sensitive person or you know someone that is, I urge you to read the following book, The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron.

For Further Reading
1) Blog Post on Highly Sensitive People And Angels
2) The Highly Sensitive Person
3) Importance Of Introverts

Blog Post & Images (c) 1/19/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Piers Morgan and Oprah Interview

I am not a great fan of Piers Morgan but since he was interviewing Oprah as his first guest last night, I decided to tune in. Believe me, I spend very little of my time watching any of the news networks. In many ways, I have personally found that it is just not worth my time to watch the news pundits hear themselves talk. This show, however, was interesting.

One of the key moments for me was when Piers Morgan was asking Oprah about her life, fame and money including her new network, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). She went on to explain and I'm paraphrasing here from memory, that she knows what her purpose is in life and why she came to this planet. She feels that her mission is to spread love and help people to evolve and become all that they can be. When she spoke about this, it was done so in a very humbling way but where Oprah was full of conviction.

In many ways, what she said is what I see in her life. Yes, I do realize she has done some of the fluff and stuff shows on TV and some feel she just does everything for the money. However, without the money, she would not be able to do many of the things she needs to do. It is like her vehicle into her life purpose. This entire thought process going on in my mind is kind of like my ah ha moment because I'm trying to figure out how to fulfill what I feel I came here to do but I am in the phase of trying to figure out the mechanics of it right now. I'll be writing more about that in another blog post.

Ever since I had the opportunity to be at the Oprah Show on Male Survivors which aired on November 5, Oprah has taken on an entirely different persona for me. She is no longer someone that I see on a TV screen and hear people talk about or write about. She is not just a person that is interviewed on TV by someone such as Piers Morgan or Barbara Walters. Oprah is much more than that. I remember sharing that space and energy with her a few months ago and seeing first hand who she truly was in person.

So as I sat there watching this interview last night, what she was saying matched up to the Oprah that I saw that day in her studio. It makes sense what she is saying and how she is living her life's purpose out. That is the most important thing any of us can do is by evolving and becoming who we are, we live out our purpose of why we came into this world. I personally believe there is so much more out there that we still do not understand. Where we spend our time and focus on life is essential on our personal growth and evolution.

And just for the record, I was pleasantly surprised at the job that Piers Morgan did in the interview with Oprah.

Further Reading:
Oprah, Tyler Perry and 200 Male Survivors Stand Together

Blog Post & Images (c) 1/18/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Journey In This Universe

Written by Don Shetterly

Dear Universe,

I come today with all my fears, my perceived shortcomings, and my questions to offer myself up to do what I came here to do. Often, I do not fully understand all that this entails nor do I always see clearly just where the path is that I am walking on.

Please help me to see the guidance around me and the love that engulfs me.  Help me have the patience along with the courage to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Help me to never forget why I came into this world.

Let me never forget that my journey is not about one single moment but about all moments combined together bringing me a greater awareness and consciousness of who I am.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Feeling Hungry Nobody Wants

I am an avid supporter of Children International. Starting back in 1991, I had lost everything in life from family, health, the place where I lived and my income. It was a time where I barely had enough to buy food for myself. However, I made a pledge that I would support one child each month and help give them maybe just a little better life.

So in 1995, I started sponsoring my first child at Children International. Jose was from Guatemala and I enjoyed the regular letters and colored pictures that I would get from him in addition to the photos of how he was growing. Of course when he got to 16 years old, I had to select a new child. Now I am sponsoring Erick.

There have been moments that I didn't think I could keep the sponsorship up and times when I've had to put it on hold but I try and do all that I can. From the letters I get, it does make a difference in their lives. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be part of a focus group several years ago and got acquainted with the organization.

While there are some that just prey on people through advertisements, Children International is a real organization that is truly helping people in the most efficient way possible.

As I was reading the magazine of stories about sponsorship that they put out, one article touched very close to home. "Feeling hungry is a feeling nobody wants; it is terrible." If you have ever grown up hungry, you know exactly what these words mean. I never had it as bad as these children do but I do remember going through times in my childhood where I was hungry and it was not fun.

The article (on page 6, Journeys, Winter 2011) goes on to state "Most children who attend this school do not eat anything before coming to school." Imagine how the mind is supposed to work if there is no food in the stomach. No wonder these children cannot make it in life.

Yes, I know there are some out there that could make all kinds of arguments (or what I call excuses) as to why these people are in the situation they are but until you've walked a mile in their shoes, your arguments are invalid. I apologize in advance if anyone does not want to hear that but in all honesty, it is true. We as a country waste billions of dollars on things such as political races, buying the latest and greatest electronics and throwing stuff away that some people in this world would find luxuries.

My hope is that we as a country will wake up, open our eyes and see what we can do to be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. If we are not doing anything to help, than we are part of the problem. There are people all over the world and in our communities that are going hungry and need help. Let us not turn a blind eye to them.

To learn more about sponsorship through Children International, please check out my sponsor page or go to

Blog Post & Images (c) 1/9/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Angels Among Us

One of my all time favorite songs by Alabama called "Angels Among Us". I truly believe that angels walk amongst us and that they appear as every day people to us. We often just don't see them and fail to even believe that this takes place. The message in this song though, resonates so much with me as I have had too many moments in life that mimic the words of this song.

I was walking home from school on a cold winter's day
Took a shortcut through the woods and I lost my way
It was getting late and I was scared and alone
Then a kind old man took my hand and led me home
Mama couldn't see him, but he was standing there
But I knew in my heart, he was the answer to my prayers

Oh I believe there are angels among us
Sent down to us from somewhere up above
They come to you and me in our darkest hours
To show us how to live
To teach us how to give
To guide us with a light of love

When life dealt troubled times and had me down on my knees
There's always been someone there to come along and comfort me
A kind word from a stranger to lend a helping hand
A phone call from a friend just to say I understand
Ain't it kind of funny at the dark end of the road
Someone lights the way with just a single ray of hope

Oh I believe there are angels among us
Sent down to us from somewhere up above
They come to you and me in our darkest hours
To show us how to live
To teach us how to give
To guide us with a light of love

They wear so many faces
Show up in the strangest places
Grace us with their mercy
In our time of need

Oh I believe there are angels among us
Sent down to us from somewhere up above
They come to you and me in our darkest hours
To show us how to live
To teach us how to give
To guide us with a light of love

Here is a video that I found which I think is beautiful and really depicts the song. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Angels Among Us - Livin' Lovin' Rockin' Rollin': The 25th Anniversary Collection

In what ways have Angels shown up in your life?

For Further Reading:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fundamentalist Brainwashing

Over the past several days and in fact in the past few years especially, I have watched through the observer's eyes just how little people really listen to one another. There is a fever of people feeling that what they feel is right justifies how they view everything else in life and how they act. It is like my father used to repeat over and over, "my way or the highway".

Growing up in a fundamentalist home, I saw that if you didn't believe as the family patriarchs expected you to believe that you were a less than human. You were pronounced wrong by the judge, jury and executioner. It mattered little what facts or evidence you had because when the patriarchal judge made the ruling, it was final. There was no appeal process and even if there would have been, the ruling would have been for the the patriarchal judge.

Of course, everyone in said kingdom (i.e. the family) was expected to follow the ruling exactly whether they agreed with it or not. There was no questioning the ruling or evidence used to base the decision on for the judgment. In fact, you did not even silently purport to disagree with what had transpired. It was like the patriarch could read your thoughts. If no thoughts were read, than somehow the patriarchal judge could would find out. If they found out, you were damned if you do and damned if you did not.

There were two major consequences of any action where judgment was rendered. This went both for the "guilty" party and for any other party that tried to show compassion or understanding towards the "guilty" party. The consequential actions included but were not limited to 1)the silent treatment and 2)counseling by the church pastor (minister). If the silent treatment did not bring the expected result or bring the "guilty" party into line, than the minister was brought in to show the "guilty" party the error of their ways. Of course, these consequential actions were in addition to any punishment that may have been issued and declared.

While this may sound extreme or unusual to many reading it, it was a normal experience in my family. The patriarchal judgment was supreme and everyone was expected to follow the judgment without question for as the church taught, the "father" was the head of the family. Any deviation from that meant that you were not following God and becoming Christ like, which meant you were headed to hell. Everyone in the family had heard enough Sunday morning sermons to know that they did not want to go to hell. It was a very effective system for the patriarchal judge in the family but complete brainwashing for the members of the kingdom.

Today, I continue to see this same scenario play out in the world around me. Whether it is in politics, churches, societies or political parties, the references are familiar. I have seen it play out in my family over and over again and it still continues to this day. The only thing is, I no longer wish to play this game. This game has become old to me and is no longer one I want to participate in to be part of the kingdom. This does infuriate the kingdom though but in my mind, I no longer am concerned.

There must be many others in our society who have been raised from infants to play the same game. Yes, I'm sure the games had many variations from the one I was taught to play but all of them have one constant effect and that effect is brainwashing. If thoughts, judgments, experiences or critical thinking processes are manipulated and dictated by a few, brainwashing becomes the norm. The brainwashing does not end when the individuals flee the kingdom for by that time, these things have become intricate parts of the individual's nature, biology and everyday thought patterns.

We often identify brainwashing in other people, other societies, nations and countries, but usually for those who have brainwashed, they are unable to identify it in themselves. It is understandable because if critical thinking, judgment and experiences are controlled by a limited number of individuals (i.e. father, minister, siblings or other adults), than how can we expect our people of this world to be aware of a different path in life. It stands to reason like the church says, "what you sow, so will you reap".

The brainwashing of people takes place every day because the ego desires power, control, money and absolute discipleship by anyone it deems to be under its power. This starts many times in the family and is reinforced by the church. In our current day and age, the government, political parties and news media all play major roles in perpetuating the era of brainwashing. Each of these willing participants do not even recognize that they are involved or this is taking place because they have been so conditioned in their life, that brainwashing seems normal.

If you really step back in our world and observe, you will see this taking place throughout our world. It isn't just other countries that brainwash their citizens. It is all countries. If it is difficult to see, try turning the TV news off for a month or two and see how that changes you. You may want to critically look at all the beliefs you were raised with and question each one of them. Can you unequivocally prove every fact that rules your life? You may consider turning off the news websites that you follow and that feed your ego to give yourself a moment of evaluation. There are many ways to begin doing this and the ones I have listed are only a few examples.

We are becoming a world where screaming and yelling is done because we have been brainwashed into thinking our way is the right way, and we must save everyone else from the error of our way. It has been programmed into humans for many years. These right and wrong practices are bringing us dangerously close to a time where not only violence may occur but that we will be building a world of less than human offspring.

As humans, we are meant to evolve and grow and become more aware of ourselves and the world around us. Our brain is designed for that and yet, we are failing humanity in this day and age. For humanity and the world to be all that it can be, we must first start with ourselves. We must take steps to discover who we are exactly, what makes us tick and what the purpose is for our life. Anything less than this brings us to meaningless exchanges of brainwashing and each individual who chooses to not be fully aware and conscious inflicts harm upon civilization.

We are designed for much more than we currently are embracing in life and my ferverent hope is that each human in this world will begin to understand the role they are playing. Only then, will we have the ability to evolve as a world and as humans.

For Further Reading:
1) Anger In Our World
2) Our Screaming And Yelling Affect Others
3) Hope And Possibility Through Trauma

Blog Post & Images (c) 1/13/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

Friday, January 14, 2011

Suicide Of A Child Abuse Survivor

I saw this posted on and while I don't really know much about Bill Zeller, this is a tragic story. Of course, I have no way to confirm all the facts other than what I can read online by those who seemed to know him.

Many of the things he wrote about make perfect sense to me because I experienced some of the same attitudes that he did and still do to this day. Parts of his story really connect to parts of my story. While I find it sad that he chose to take his own life and not deal with the darkness he suffered through, I can fully understand. I've walked in those same shoes as many others have.

People try to get me to understand all the time how great Church and Fundamentalist Christians are. I do know some that are wonderful people and live their life in a way that displays what they know and believe. However, there are many horrible people taking refuge in churches while those around them could not even identify these same people. We tend to keep our eyes closed to that which we do not want to see. For those friends of mine who practice what they preach, my hat is off to you. For those that are the scourge of our society who hide in the refuge of the church, may you be exposed for who you are and may those around you wake up!

This is a difficult piece to read but I truly feel that until everyone in this world understands what survivors of child abuse go through, these words need to be told. If you have experienced the darkness that Bill Zeller, myself and many others have, please know you are not alone. You no longer need to suffer in silence. Many of us are out there and there is help, there is hope and there is healing - even if it seems like life is at the end. Please reach out to someone that you trust and ask for help. Here is what Bill Zeller left behind.

Reprinted from

Note Written and Left Behind By Bill Zeller

I have the urge to declare my sanity and justify my actions, but I assume I'll never be able to convince anyone that this was the right decision. Maybe it's true that anyone who does this is insane by definition, but I can at least explain my reasoning. I considered not writing any of this because of how personal it is, but I like tying up loose ends and don't want people to wonder why I did this. Since I've never spoken to anyone about what happened to me, people would likely
draw the wrong conclusions.

My first memories as a child are of being raped, repeatedly. This has affected every aspect of my life. This darkness, which is the only way I can describe it, has followed me like a fog, but at times intensified and overwhelmed me, usually triggered by a distinct situation. In kindergarten I couldn't use the bathroom and would stand petrified whenever I needed to, which started a trend of awkward and unexplained social behavior. The damage that was done to my body still prevents me from using the bathroom normally, but now it's less of a physical impediment than a daily reminder of what was done to me.

This darkness followed me as I grew up. I remember spending hours playing with legos, having my world consist of me and a box of cold, plastic blocks. Just waiting for everything to end. It's the same thing I do now, but instead of legos it's surfing the web or reading or listening to a baseball game. Most of my life has been spent feeling dead inside, waiting for my body to catch up.

At times growing up I would feel inconsolable rage, but I never connected this to what happened until puberty. I was able to keep the darkness at bay for a few hours at a time by doing things that required intense concentration, but it would always come back. Programming appealed to me for this reason. I was never particularly fond of computers or mathematically inclined, but the temporary peace it would provide was like a drug. But the darkness always returned and built up something like a tolerance, because programming has become less and less of a refuge.

The darkness is with me nearly every time I wake up. I feel like a grime is covering me. I feel like I'm trapped in a contaminated body that no amount of washing will clean. Whenever I think about what happened I feel manic and itchy and can't concentrate on anything else. It manifests itself in hours of eating or staying up for days at a time or sleeping for sixteen hours straight or week long programming binges or constantly going to the gym. I'm exhausted from feeling like this every hour of every day.

Three to four nights a week I have nightmares about what happened. It makes me avoid sleep and constantly tired, because sleeping with what feels like hours of nightmares is not restful. I wake up sweaty and furious. I'm reminded every morning of what was done to me and the
control it has over my life.

I've never been able to stop thinking about what happened to me and this hampered my social interactions. I would be angry and lost in thought and then be interrupted by someone saying "Hi" or making small talk, unable to understand why I seemed cold and distant.

I walked around, viewing the outside world from a distant portal behind my eyes, unable to perform normal human niceties. I wondered what it would be like to take to other people without what happened constantly on my mind, and I wondered if other people had similar experiences that they were better able to mask.

Alcohol was also something that let me escape the darkness. It would always find me later, though, and it was always angry that I managed to escape and it made me pay. Many of the irresponsible things I did were the result of the darkness. Obviously I'm responsible for every decision and action, including this one, but there are reasons why things happen the way they do.

Alcohol and other drugs provided a way to ignore the realities of my situation. It was easy to spend the night drinking and forget that I had no future to look forward to. I never liked what alcohol did to me, but it was better than facing my existence honestly. I haven't touched alcohol or any other drug in over seven months (and no drugs or alcohol will be involved when I do this) and this has forced me to evaluate my life in an honest and clear way. There's no future here. The darkness will always be with me.

I used to think if I solved some problem or achieved some goal, maybe he would leave. It was comforting to identify tangible issues as the source of my problems instead of something that I'll never be able to change. I thought that if I got into to a good college, or a good grad school, or lost weight, or went to the gym nearly every day for a year, or created programs that millions of people used, or spent a summer or California or New York or published papers that I was proud of, then maybe I would feel some peace and not be constantly haunted and unhappy. But nothing I did made a dent in how depressed I was on a daily basis and nothing was in any way fulfilling. I'm not sure why I ever thought that would change anything.

I didn't realize how deep a hold he had on me and my life until my first relationship. I stupidly assumed that no matter how the darkness affected me personally, my romantic relationships would somehow be separated and protected. Growing up I viewed my future relationships as a possible escape from this thing that haunts me every day, but I began to realize how entangled it was with every aspect of my life and how it is never going to release me. Instead of being an escape, relationships and romantic contact with other people only intensified everything about him that I couldn't stand. I will never be able to have a relationship in which he is not the focus, affecting every aspect of my romantic interactions.

Relationships always started out fine and I'd be able to ignore him for a few weeks. But as we got closer emotionally the darkness would return and every night it'd be me, her and the darkness in a black and gruesome threesome. He would surround me and penetrate me and the more we did the more intense it became. It made me hate being touched, because as long as we were separated I could view her like an outsider viewing something good and kind and untainted. Once we touched, the darkness would envelope her too and take her over and the evil inside me would surround her. I always felt like I was infecting anyone I was with.

Relationships didn't work. No one I dated was the right match, and I thought that maybe if I found the right person it would overwhelm him. Part of me knew that finding the right person wouldn't help, so I became interested in girls who obviously had no interest in me. For a while I thought I was gay. I convinced myself that it wasn't the darkness at all, but rather my orientation, because this would give me control over why things didn't feel "right".

The fact that the darkness affected sexual matters most intensely made this idea make some sense and I convinced myself of this for a number of years, starting in college after my first relationship ended. I told people I was gay (at Trinity, not at Princeton), even though I wasn't attracted to men and kept finding myself interested in girls. Because if being gay wasn't the answer, then what was? People thought I was avoiding my orientation, but I was actually avoiding the truth, which is that while I'm straight, I will never be content with anyone. I know now that the darkness will never leave.

Last spring I met someone who was unlike anyone else I'd ever met. Someone who showed me just how well two people could get along and how much I could care about another human being. Someone I know I could be with and love for the rest of my life, if I weren't so fucked up. Amazingly, she liked me. She liked the shell of the man the darkness had left behind. But it didn't matter because I couldn't be alone with her. It was never just the two of us, it was always the three of us: her, me and the darkness. The closer we got, the more intensely I'd feel the darkness, like some evil mirror of my emotions. All the closeness we had and I loved was complemented by agony that I couldn't stand, from him. I realized that I would never be able to give her, or anyone, all of me or only me. She could never have me without the darkness and evil inside me. I could never have just her, without the darkness being a part of all of our interactions.

I will never be able to be at peace or content or in a healthy relationship. I realized the futility of the romantic part of my life. If I had never met her, I would have realized this as soon as I met someone else who I meshed similarly well with. It's likely that things wouldn't have worked out with her and we would have broken up (with our relationship ending, like the majority of relationships do) even if I didn't have this problem, since we only dated for a short time. But I will face exactly the same problems with the darkness with anyone else. Despite my hopes, love and compatibility is not enough. Nothing is enough. There's no way I can fix this or even push the darkness down far enough to make a relationship or any type of intimacy feasible.

So I watched as things fell apart between us. I had put an explicit time limit on our relationship, since I knew it couldn't last because of the darkness and didn't want to hold her back, and this caused a variety of problems. She was put in an unnatural situation that she never should have been a part of. It must have been very hard for her, not knowing what was actually going on with me, but this is not something I've ever been able to talk about with anyone. Losing her was very hard for me as well. Not because of her (I got over our relationship relatively quickly), but because of the realization that I would never have another relationship and because it signified the last true, exclusive personal connection I could ever have.

This wasn't apparent to other people, because I could never talk about the real reasons for my sadness. I was very sad in the summer and fall, but it was not because of her, it was because I will never escape the darkness with anyone. She was so loving and kind to me and gave me everything I could have asked for under the circumstances. I'll never forget how much happiness she brought me in those briefs moments when I could ignore the darkness. I had originally planned to kill myself last winter but never got around to it. (Parts of this letter were written over a year ago, other parts days before doing this.) It was wrong of me to involve myself in her life if this were a possibility and I should have just left her alone, even though we only dated for a few months and things ended a long time ago. She's just one more person in a long list of people I've hurt.

I could spend pages talking about the other relationships I've had that were ruined because of my problems and my confusion related to the darkness. I've hurt so many great people because of who I am and my inability to experience what needs to be experienced. All I can say is that I tried to be honest with people about what I thought was true.

I've spent my life hurting people. Today will be the last time.

I've told different people a lot of things, but I've never told anyone about what happened to me, ever, for obvious reasons. It took me a while to realize that no matter how close you are to someone or how much they claim to love you, people simply cannot keep secrets. I learned this a few years ago when I thought I was gay and told people. The more harmful the secret, the juicier the gossip and the more likely you are to be betrayed. People don't care about their word or what they've promised, they just do whatever the fuck they want and justify it later. It feels incredibly lonely to realize you can never share something with someone and have it be between just the two of you. I don't blame anyone in particular, I guess it's just how people are. Even if I felt like this is something I could have shared, I have no interest in being part of a friendship or relationship where the other person views me as the damaged and contaminated person that I am. So even if I were able to trust someone, I probably would not have told them about what happened to me. At this point I simply don't care who knows.

I feel an evil inside me. An evil that makes me want to end life. I need to stop this. I need to make sure I don't kill someone, which is not something that can be easily undone. I don't know if this is related to what happened to me or something different. I recognize the irony of killing myself to prevent myself from killing someone else, but this decision should indicate what I'm capable of.

So I've realized I will never escape the darkness or misery associated with it and I have a responsibility to stop myself from physically harming others.

I'm just a broken, miserable shell of a human being. Being molested has defined me as a person and shaped me as a human being and it has made me the monster I am and there's nothing I can do to escape it. I don't know any other existence. I don't know what life feels like where I'm apart from any of this. I actively despise the person I am. I just feel fundamentally broken, almost non-human. I feel like an animal that woke up one day in a human body, trying to make sense of a foreign world, living among creatures it doesn't understand and can't connect with.

I have accepted that the darkness will never allow me to be in a relationship. I will never go to sleep with someone in my arms, feeling the comfort of their hands around me. I will never know what uncontaminated intimacy is like. I will never have an exclusive bond with someone, someone who can be the recipient of all the love I have to give. I will never have children, and I wanted to be a father so badly. I think I would have made a good dad. And even if I had fought through the darkness and married and had children all while being unable to feel intimacy, I could have never done that if suicide were a possibility. I did try to minimize pain, although I know that this decision will hurt many of you. If this hurts you, I hope that you can at least forget about me quickly.

There's no point in identifying who molested me, so I'm just going to leave it at that. I doubt the word of a dead guy with no evidence about something that happened over twenty years ago would have much sway.

You may wonder why I didn't just talk to a professional about this. I've seen a number of doctors since I was a teenager to talk about other issues and I'm positive that another doctor would not have helped. I was never given one piece of actionable advice, ever. More than a few spent a large part of the session reading their notes to remember who I was. And I have no interest in talking about being raped as a child, both because I know it wouldn't help and because I have no confidence it would remain secret. I know the legal and practical limits of doctor/patient confidentiality, growing up in a house where we'd hear stories about the various mental illnesses of famous people, stories that were passed down through generations. All it takes is one doctor who thinks my story is interesting enough to share or a doctor who thinks it's her right or responsibility to contact the authorities and have me identify the molester (justifying her decision by telling herself that someone else might be in danger). All it takes is a single doctor who violates my trust, just like the "friends" who I told I was gay did, and everything would be made public and I'd be forced to live in a world where people would know how fucked up I am. And yes, I realize this indicates that I have severe trust issues, but they're based on a large number of experiences with people who have shown a profound disrespect for their word and the privacy of others.

People say suicide is selfish. I think it's selfish to ask people to continue living painful and miserable lives, just so you possibly won't feel sad for a week or two. Suicide may be a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but it's also a permanent solution to a ~23 year-old problem that grows more intense and overwhelming every day.

Some people are just dealt bad hands in this life. I know many people have it worse than I do, and maybe I'm just not a strong person, but I really did try to deal with this. I've tried to deal with this every day for the last 23 years and I just can't fucking take it anymore.

I often wonder what life must be like for other people. People who can feel the love from others and give it back unadulterated, people who can experience sex as an intimate and joyous experience, people who can experience the colors and happenings of this world without constant
misery. I wonder who I'd be if things had been different or if I were a stronger person. It sounds pretty great.

I'm prepared for death. I'm prepared for the pain and I am ready to no longer exist. Thanks to the strictness of New Jersey gun laws this will probably be much more painful than it needs to be, but what can you do. My only fear at this point is messing something up and surviving.


I'd also like to address my family, if you can call them that. I despise everything they stand for and I truly hate them, in a non-emotional, dispassionate and what I believe is a healthy way. The world will be a better place when they're dead--one with less hatred and intolerance.

If you're unfamiliar with the situation, my parents are fundamentalist Christians who kicked me out of their house and cut me off financially when I was 19 because I refused to attend seven hours of church a week.

They live in a black and white reality they've constructed for themselves. They partition the world into good and evil and survive by hating everything they fear or misunderstand and calling it love. They don't understand that good and decent people exist all around us, "saved" or not, and that evil and cruel people occupy a large percentage of their church. They take advantage of people looking for hope by teaching them to practice the same hatred they practice.

A random example:

"I am personally convinced that if a Muslim truly believes and obeys the Koran, he will be a terrorist." - George Zeller, August 24, 2010.

If you choose to follow a religion where, for example, devout Catholics who are trying to be good people are all going to Hell but child molesters go to Heaven (as long as they were "saved" at some point), that's your choice, but it's fucked up. Maybe a God who operates by those rules does exist. If so, fuck Him.

Their church was always more important than the members of their family and they happily sacrificed whatever necessary in order to satisfy their contrived beliefs about who they should be.

I grew up in a house where love was proxied through a God I could never believe in. A house where the love of music with any sort of a beat was literally beaten out of me. A house full of hatred and intolerance, run by two people who were experts at appearing kind and warm when others were around. Parents who tell an eight year old that his grandmother is going to Hell because she's Catholic. Parents who claim not to be racist but then talk about the horrors of miscegenation. I could list hundreds of other examples, but it's tiring.

Since being kicked out, I've interacted with them in relatively normal ways. I talk to them on the phone like nothing happened. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I like pretending I have a family. Maybe I like having people I can talk to about what's been going on in my life. Whatever the reason, it's not real and it feels like a sham. I should have never allowed this reconnection to happen.

I wrote the above a while ago, and I do feel like that much of the time. At other times, though, I feel less hateful. I know my parents honestly believe the crap they believe in. I know that my mom, at least, loved me very much and tried her best. One reason I put this off for so long is because I know how much pain it will cause her. She has been sad since she found out I wasn't "saved", since she believes I'm going to Hell, which is not a sadness for which I am responsible. That was never going to change, and presumably she believes the state of my physical body is much less important than the state of my soul. Still, I cannot intellectually justify this decision, knowing how much it will hurt her. Maybe my ability to take my own life, knowing how much pain it will cause, shows that I am a monster who doesn't deserve to live. All I know is that I can't deal with this pain any longer and I'm am truly sorry I couldn't wait until my family and everyone I knew died so this could be done without hurting anyone. For years I've wished that I'd be hit by a bus or die while saving a baby from drowning so my death might be more acceptable, but I was never so lucky.


To those of you who have shown me love, thank you for putting up with all my shittiness and moodiness and arbitrariness. I was never the person I wanted to be. Maybe without the darkness I would have been a better person, maybe not. I did try to be a good person, but I realize I never got very far.

I'm sorry for the pain this causes. I really do wish I had another option. I hope this letter explains why I needed to do this. If you can't understand this decision, I hope you can at least forgive me.

Bill Zeller


Please save this letter and repost it if gets deleted. I don't want people to wonder why I did this. I disseminated it more widely than I might have otherwise because I'm worried that my family might try to restrict access to it. I don't mind if this letter is made public. In fact, I'd prefer it be made public to people being unable to read it and drawing their own conclusions.

Feel free to republish this letter, but only if it is reproduced in its entirety.

End Of Bill Zeller's Letter

For Further Information: - The Agonizing Last Words Of Programmer Bill Zeller - RIP Bill Zeller
Bill Zeller - Suicide Note
Bill Zeller - Website

Male Survivor Resources
Hope And Possibility Through Trauma
Oprah - Male Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, Part 1
Oprah - Male Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, Part 2
Oprah, Tyler Perry and 200 Male Survivors Stand Together
Daily Affirmations For Male Survivors
Resources For Survivors
Male Survivor.Org

Whatever you do, if you are a survivor, please get help! Yes, it is not easy to take that step but it is worth it. There is hope!


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