SoCS: PSST ( The ceremony)

I discovered photographs taken of me when I was just 18 years old. I had been having nightmares about those photographs leaving me with an ongoing residue.

My mom used the money I had made from a Mcdonald’s commercial when I was 8 to pay for a modeling portfolio.

We had a 3 day photo shoot from the beach, to a pool, to in studio. Finally he photographed me waterskiing.

I had forgotten some of the photographs taken until my nightmare.

He put them on a videotape so we could look at all of the photos and choose when I was 18.

I remember sitting in the living room watching this video thinking “ OH my gosh someone turn this off!!!!” I looked at my mom and waited. I looked like a prostitute. I was posed in over half of the pictures like a porn star with a see through bathing suit. These pictures were NOT modeling portfolio material. I later found this out when I went to a cast call in Orlando. The first person to look at my portfolio said they were all bathing suit photos?!!! Where were the elegant dresses and the professional wear??!! Then telling me my nose was way too large to ever be a model anyway.

At the time these pictures were taken I had just quit my job waterskiing at Seaworld. Sick of sleeping in my car and having health problems arise. I moved back home to the lake. This is also after my suicide attempt and subsequent mental hospital stay. I watched the man who molested me across the lake. In fact, some of the photos taken of me at the lake have his house in the background.

I mean what BETTER way to heal from years of sexual abuse, anorexia, PTSD, and anxiety than to sexualize me in a see through bathing suit and make me look like a whore right?!!! Most of these pictures could be in a porn magazine. It was disgusting. I felt so ashamed. How confusing to feel shame by those photos and have my family feel pride in them.

I wrote a poem with some of the pictures yesterday that I posted but I wanted to add to that by explaining why I burned them and how. The Stream of consciousness Saturday is perfect timing to allow me to just go with what is on my mind right now.

The night after the nightmares of the pictures and what I felt they represented…shame, I got up and immediately went into a dissociative state. I was worried for the first time in a lifetime I would do some sort of self harm. I had no plans. I just felt trauma and I wanted to get rid of it. I went into the the garage and got the loppers and went outside. I started hacking back azalea bushes that I had looked at for years wishing they were manicured. I have no idea how long I was out there. I have no idea what mode my body went into to do this. ( I will tell you that at this moment I feel every muscle in my body has been torn, from my ankles to my shoulders and everything inbetween.)

I looked at the pile of branches later.

I do not know how my body did this.

I don’t recall half of what I was even doing.

It was certainly better than self harm but was I not doing self harm in the end anyway?

I successfully cleared my mind, released anger, but hurt my body immensely.

Trimming bushes and being active is a great way to channel anger and release memories and shame but NOT if you have a muscle disease.

I wish someone would have said “PSSSTTTT um you should probably stop now!!!” But I would not have listened. I was dissociated.

It is quite a pile for someone who uses a wheelchair right?!

The next morning, yesterday, I had time to process, contemplate, put in perspective, what I could not have accomplished by hacking bushes or self harm. Coping mechanisms MUST be safe. They cannot involve harm in any way.

I had to cope with this and do it now. I had to release the shame.

I knew I had to have a ceremony to let go of that girl that everyone wanted me to be, molded me to be, sacrificed me to be.

I took each picture out and looked at it. I put each on the ground perfectly as I wanted them to be. I mourned the part of myself that was not respected and cherished. I mourned the part of myself that was sexualize and not really seen for the suffering at the time. I loved that girl. I loved those parts of me that were never loved and so easily used and discarded. Then I burned the images that someone else created in a sick sick way that did not represent me at all.

I watched them burn.

I took pictures of them burning.

I must say… I feel my OWN pictures of my ceremony were much more artistic than the 5 grand my mother initially spent on having me look how they wanted me to look.

Burning the past was liberating. It was freeing. I know it does not erase the memories. I know that we all have to cope the best we can and we each find what works for us to release what we can. This worked for me. This was my release ceremony. Hey PSST it was AWESOME!!!!

39 thoughts on “SoCS: PSST ( The ceremony)

  1. As I began reading this and you mentioned finding the pictures, I was SO hoping you would burn them 💗. Burning to me signals an irreversible, irrevocable transformation, has a cleansing effect (it sterilizes everything), and it’s also a wonderful way of shedding old junk. Gone. Ashes. Makes a place for a Phoenix to rise in its place and be set free. Burning is also used in other societies as a ritual of sorts; they’ll write negative thoughts on paper and burn it. It can be really therapeutic, and I really hope it had this freeing, healing effect on you as well 😘💞💞

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I love that you shared your thoughts on this. I was hoping you would. I knew the moment I woke up I had to burn them all. But I also knew I didn’t want to just toss them on the fire. I wanted to go through a process to let them go. I can see them from my bedroom window, the ashes of them and it is as if those days just are swept away. It was sooo very cleansing. I have given things away that I did not want the memory of but never burned. I will do this in the future and I love the idea of writing thoughts and burning them. I will have to implement that. I had no idea it would be so healing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree the photos of the burning ritual are way more beautiful than the ikkiness of the inappropriately secularised photos. In photos of me as a teenager I either look completely hunched over and like I’m hiding my body, or really posey and pushing my chest out, like I was instructed to by my dad. It’s sick. I admire you xx

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree the burning must have felt liberating if nothing else. Letting go of the past can be so hard, as I well know….so good for you you carried it out, I’m sure the aches and pains will wear off in time, but a small part of you maybe is feeling a little cleaner today…


    1. I am in pain and I am renewed. I honestly only see the good at the moment. I am aware. Something I never had before. And i consider that a blessing.
      It was the coolest ceremony I’ve ever been a part of. Well other than my marriage and my husband and I decided to go by ourselves into the woods wtih the guy who was to marry us. Then he left and it was just my husband and me dancing in the woods all by ourselves!
      Letting go of the past is hard. I am so sorry that you know of the pain of this.
      I know it is not always possible with PTSD and nightmares. I think my little ceremony was proactive though and a step in the right direction. I figure if i keep moving forward then even if the past comes it will not eat me up

      Liked by 2 people

  4. The pictures you took of your burning ceremony are beautiful. I’m so glad you feel lighter and freer now.

    The angry trimming work you did on the azaleas — I totally relate. I just did a similar thing, last night and today I worked myself into an achy exhausted frazzle. I did it because I was angry and upset.

    Yesterday I went to see my doctor to find out the results of my recent blood work. She told me that I tested positive for an autoimmune disease. I already suspected that I had it. I had told the doctor so, which is why she ordered the tests. But I was hoping the tests would tell me I was wrong, that I don’t have this autoimmune thing in my body. But I do, damn it. I do.

    So I came home and did a ton of heavy, hard yard work, last night and again this morning, because I didn’t quite finish it all last night. I probably did the work of 3 men. I worked and I worked and I worked until I was literally on the verge of collapse. As I worked, I kept thinking “Autoimmune disease? Who, ME? I’ll show you, autoimmune disease!!!!”

    Right now I am in so much pain all over my whole body. Inside, outside, head to fingertips to toes. Ooooh. Ouch.

    I can’t set any cleansing fires here, though. We have high winds right now, and very dry conditions. The humidity here in our part of New Mexico is only about 10% right now. So I am vicariously burning the news about my autoimmune disease, through your ceremony. I am mentally burning my copy of the lab report about my autoimmune antibodies. Yay, thanks, I feel better. 🙂

    (Damn You Autoimmune)


    1. Oh my gosh that was so me!!!!!!!! It was almost totally the same day. I got the results that AM for my latest labs that showed that my t-fighter cells are less than 1 and that the lyme is back and that my parathyroid is off again and i became so overwhelmed and i was like NO I will NOT be told what I cannot do with my body. Add that on to the pictures and the humiliation and helplessness of everything and i do think that you totally get it!!!!!
      Would you mind telling me what you were diagnosed wtih?
      My ANA has been positive for 12 years now. Same with elevated PTH and same with Lyme titers. And my bones keep getting worse. And no answers on the gene search for my muscle disease.
      It is so very very frustrating.
      But you got a diagnosis. And i know you must have had awful symptoms. And i know you must be in the same kind of awful pain I am in right now after doing what you did. My fingertips hurt too!! Even my toe joints.
      Our humidity is 80% and i had a hose and made sure that around the area was wet.
      Now that you mention it i wish i would have thrown my lab reports on there too and I can think of a number of other things i’d like to throw on it.
      As i was doing it i kept thinking…hmmmmmm I have multiple chemical sensitivity disorder …should i be breathing this in??? And the wind thankfully blew it the other way!!!!!!
      I am so so sorry that you got news of this auto immune disease.
      If there is anything you want help on, research, i am up all hours i can look things up, read medical journals. If you want,, just ask, i do not mind at all.


      1. Thank you for YOUR validation! My stepdaughter just told me dinner is ready so I will answer your questions later. She rarely gets a chance to cook, so this is a special treat.


      2. It was a great dinner, thanks. A lot later than I am used to eating, but that’s ok!

        The autoimmune disorder that I tested positive for is called Hashimoto’s. This is in addition to Hereditary Hemochromatosis, which I was diagnosed with 14 years ago. Hereditary Hemochromatosis is called HH for short. So now I guess I have HHH. (Ha ha ha?)

        My main complaint is that I tire much too quickly. I have a lot of annoying allergies, too, which I suspect are probably related to the autoimmune disease. I get hives a lot, my eyes are often very bloodshot, and my nose almost never stops running, which is irritating and embarrassing. But my thyroid levels are being well controlled by levothyroxine, which is one of the biggest problems with Hashimoto’s, so I really don’t have a reason to complain. I don’t know why I got so upset when my dr told me that I tested positive for Hashimoto’s, but I sure did. I can be a big baby sometimes!

        I hope you have a happy and blessed day today. I have made up my mind, just now, that that’s the kind of day I am going to have. ❤


      3. Well shoot you got upset I would think because being diagnosed with a disease IS upsetting. Anything that requires treatment and has symptoms to our physical body just adds to frustrations in daily life, keeping us from achieving what we want. We always have to take into account the balance of resting, etc.
        with the HH do you have to have a phlebotomist do blood draws? That is a balance too to make sure you don’t become anemic while keeping the ferritin level down and THAT has symptoms too. One of my relatives has it and they thought I had it too because after my ferritin was too low and they gave me an iron infusion it became toxic in the high level. My body could not process it. It is still too night and still causing issues but they cannot take more blood because i then become anemic. Balance in everything with still symptoms and frustration and not a real fix. Some days i care and some days i try not to think about it at all.
        I like that you made up your mind to have a happy blessed day. I think I will do the same. I’m trying to decide where my husband will drive me for a little adventure. I’m glad you had a good dinner cooked for you too last night!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes, balance is key! I have had toxic levels of iron, and I have also been anemic, which I thought was rare with HH, but then I learned it isn’t so rare, after all. Now I control my iron mostly by diet. Which isn’t ideal, but so far it’s working pretty good for me.

        Ideally, I would donate blood on a regular basis, to get me through those times when my iron is high, but not high enough for my insurance to pay for phlebotomy. However, I have the rarest blood type, AB negative, and the blood banks refuse to take my blood because it is never needed, it just takes up space in their refrigerator and then has to be thrown out. I can’t win!

        There is a fringe group of people who believe that AB negative blood came from aliens. I think that is nonsense. However, it could explain a lot of things, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Yes, when they took my blood they took a pint and said since it was “contaminated” due to the high iron, at that time it was 1400, they threw it out. They did get it down to 700 something and finally 500 something or other. I still have bone pain though unfortunately that comes and goes.
        My insurance did not pay either for the phlebotomy . We had to pay for it.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Wow. I am so amazed at your overall positive attitude and your refusal to give up! You are an amazing survivor. HH alone is enough to knock you off your feet.

        I had genetic testing done and learned that I inherited HH from both parents, who apparently are/were carriers of the most common HH gene. I also had my DNA tested by ancestry dot com a couple of years ago and learned that my late father was probably not my biological dad. He was 1/4 black on his father’s side and mostly German on his mother’s side, but I do not have any German or African in my DNA.

        It was a shock to learn this at age 61. However… when I was 5, after my parents had a big fight, my mother took me to meet her old boyfriend. When he said “You have a cute little girl, she looks like you,” my malignant narcissistic mother said “No, she looks like YOU.” So I guess I should not have been so surprised by my ancestry DNA racial profile.


  5. I am glad to see you found your own way to deal with these ‘photographs’, and you being a photographer yourself, it is so beautifully fitting for you to photograph them burning! YOUR photographs are brilliant and powerful. REAL ART. I think we use our individual talents, creativity and unique ways of doing things to aid us in dealing with whatever needs to be dealt with. Your post and photographs show us how. Wishing you all the best, hope you feel better soon. Thank you for sharing and for the help you have given me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can see how burning those pictures can be freeing. I’m so glad it helped. I wish I had known you many years ago, I would have burned all the photos of my dad! Actually, I remember now, I couldn’t look at family photos for years and years. It was too upsetting. I felt my whole life had been a lie.

    Hacking at the bush was perhaps needed. The anger had to go somewhere! Bushes don’t have feelings, and it is so much healthier than harming yourself. You are doing so many good things to get better. You are an inspiration, so it is very good you write a blog because you help people that way.


    1. Thank you! I appreciate that perspective that made me feel like I had not really lost all senses by hacking the bushes. They actually look really good now too btw!
      I sent back all of my family photos to my twin brother a few years ago and said that he could now be the keeper of all those memories because they certainly were not mine. But these photos needed burning and I felt so much better after I did.
      It is such an odd feeling to feel your life has been a lie. Isn’t it!!! But it was just their lie. Not yours

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am very happy that you burnt these photos and I know how freeing that can be. I burnt all of the photos of my abusers and it made me feel like I had some power.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had my first burning ceremony when I was with my last boyfriend before I got married and I burned all the pictures of abusers and of him and it was very healing to me. I didn’t revisit it until 23 years later, now, but well worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

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