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Glass in My Sandbox Third Manuscript from My “Little Books of Big Pain” Series By: Betty-Lou Kristy

Giving voice To a time in my life When I did not have one

An opportunity for Reflection Healing Awareness Picture Prose & Musings Copyright 2012© by Betty-Lou Kristy- All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be retransmitted, copied, or duplicated in any way without the expressed permission of the author.

Creating “Safe Space” for the reader... It is imperatively important to me that I have created enough of a safety net to embrace what we all collectively may take from this project WITHOUT re-triggering trauma as you journey with me... I NEED the reader (you) to know that I have very carefully crafted this to be HONEST....sometimes brutally honest....and have allowed my inner child and wounded child to “speak” freely. Sometimes it is those pieces we hold back that are some of the most important pieces that others need to recognize, acknowledge and heal Having said that I do not want a trauma survivor and/or someone who is trying to help or understand how childhood trauma affects us open this with trepidation of what they may find in here

First will NOT find any reference to sexual abuse in here There is no way to create safe space for that in this type of medium Also you will not find excessive explicit gore or explosive details I wrote them and then took them out while reflecting on how to create what is needed but also create safe space for this dialogue There are two entries called “Cried The Tiny Child- All of 9 Years Old)” and “Haunted Memories” that do describe specific circumstances I witnessed as a child that attests to the level of violence, blood and suicide attempts that always occurred as repeated patterns in my parents’ alcohol fuelled battles After long contemplation I felt it was important to leave those in So there was a way for the reader to gauge what exploded my child self and fuelled my trauma that resulted in my long journey with mental health and addictions What is in here is brutally honest, raw and powerful. There is fear, terror, loneliness, isolation and darkness visited It will engage a large amount of emotion

BUT IT IS WRAPPED IN OUTCOMES OF LIGHT, HOPE AND RECOVERY A JOURNEY TO WHOLENESS I have had this reviewed by both trauma survivors and those treating trauma and am comfortable that in prefacing the book with this and the reviews that I have created enough safe space to release this now. Recognizing that each reader is unique and each journey is unique..... I invite any reader to follow up with me at for a peer-based de-brief or contact ConnexOntario providing free, confidential supportive information and Referral Specialists who answer all calls, emails or webchat requests 24/7

Reviews: ‘Glass in My Sandbox’ (Inside the Mind of Childhood Trauma) “As someone who works with families from pre-birth through adolescence to adulthood, I know the importance of healthy child and youth development and the impact that positive parenting has on who that child becomes. Glass in My Sandbox shows in spades the trauma Betty-Lou experienced as a child and her inner voice showed me how all that trauma translated into the many issues that young people face as a result of their early years experiences. We need to find better ways to help parents see the impact they are having on their children and to seek help for their families - for the sake of that little girl in the bathroom, curled in a ball on the floor. I’ll never forget your story. Thanks for the gift you have given me Betty-Lou” Joyce See, Director, Community Health Services, Halton Region Health Department

"Glass in My Sandbox folds the reader over in the layers of darkness so thoroughly that there is a blinding pain in the brightness that comes at its end. Just as the childhood and early adult life of author Betty-Lou Kristy was haunted by trauma, so I found myself haunted by the feelings her work evoked from me through masterful use of powerful prose and imagery. One does not simply "read" Glass in My Sandbox but rather is given a naked glimpse into one woman's tragic past, viewed through the lens of lost innocence. An experience that is impossible to forget." Deborah Gatenby, President of Addictions Ontario; trauma survivor and recovering opiate addict

“It isn’t easy to vocalize the experiences of a darkened childhood. Betty-Lou was spot on. She was able to articulate feelings I felt/feel that I was unable to label so I put them away on dusty old shelves. Glass in My Sandbox helped me realize how young I was when I wanted to die. In reading this, I feel some torn threads mending, helping me to understand and heal. The illustrations do a wonderful job of capturing emotions that cannot be expressed. Her powerful, yet gentle, spoken honesty somehow lessen the lingering shame. The insight this writing provides will leave the reader a little more healed or more understanding of a loved one’s past. Keep nurturing that nine-year old little girl. She is such a brave soul. She is pure love.” S.Law - Survivor childhood trauma

“Betty Lou combines raw beauty, frank honesty and inspiring soul-searching to achieve something rarely seen in literature today; a testament of love and pain, with epic memories and reflections that will surely take the reader on a soulful and melancholy journey through the heart of a courageous survivor…Ms. Kristy has crafted a work of hope, hope that we can all strive to overcome the odds that this incredible artist has. Read, and enjoy, Glass in My Sandbox. It may change your life!” Sean LeBlanc, D.U.A.L. Chairperson, Ottawa Inner City Health Consultant

“How does one search for the pieces of themselves? Glass in my Sandbox is a creative and poignant lived experience of hope that embodies pain, courage, reflection and forgiveness. Betty-Lou takes the reader on a journey through the shadows and tornado of her childhood to the light, hope and inspiration of her adulthood. Betty-Lou uses her childhood trauma as an opportunity for transformation and the journey to being whole. A beautiful read of vitality, strength and resilience.” Danielle Pomeroy, Social Worker MSW, RSW

“Glass in My Sandbox is sure to heal the hearts and souls of so many. It is an example of transparency for the sake of both ourselves and others. Betty-Lou is a warrior of truth, authenticity and integrity in her quest to heal herself and hopes to empower others to break the cycle of abuse and addiction." Michelle LeRoy; Holistic Youth Life Coach- “Healing our Youth from the inside out so they can shine their light on our world"

“Glass in My Sandbox is riveting, intense and brutally honest” C.Z. – Physical/Emotional/Sexual Trauma Survivor and Recovering Opiate Addict

“I enjoy reading and re-reading Glass in My Sandbox as I seem to take away something different each time I read it. I feel tears forming in my eyes. Maybe deep inside I hope the tears will flow. The visuals help me to see what I feel. I just gave Glass in My Sandbox to my boyfriend. I wanted him to read it so he could see (yup, see) the feelings that I experienced. I don't really talk much about it and he gets stuck on the incidences and gets so mad. This book can take him past the details of the abuse to the feelings associated with the abuse. I don't think he (or many non-abused) understands that it wasn't the pain of the violence as much as the fright and how it made me feel. It is hard to relay the imprint it leaves in a woman. Your book does it so very precisely. I hope he understands healing doesn't mean gone; that the love for the abuser can still be there when it is a parent; my intolerance of violence now; my inability to fall asleep. Your book has done so much for me.” Susan –Childhood trauma, incest, physical, emotional abuse survivor; in recovery addictions & mental health

“Betty Lou’s Glass in My Sandbox should be read by everyone, not just victims and survivors. The book provides insight of the trauma and the crippling effect that abuse has on children and their growth. My girlfriend lived through similar experiences - the beatings, the abuse, the trauma. Though she rarely talks about it you, you could tell how damaging it was. Not until I read Glass in My Sandbox did I somewhat understand the pain that these children must have felt, the helplessness that no one would save them. Imagine that. The simple lesson that I learned is if you’re a victim of abuse, don’t be ashamed. It’s not your fault. Please talk to someone, and if they don’t believe you, tell somebody else. If you are the abuser (whether intentionally or unintentionally), please stop and get some help because every day that the pain continues, you are slowly killing their spirit.” JS- Live in partner of someone who has been abused as a child

“Parents are supposed to protect, nurture and develop children to their full potential. Not traumatize, break their spirit and allow them to live in fear. To live in a house where you were always waiting for the next abusive fight to take place, fear for everyone’s safety and pray for it to stop was terrifying. We never spoke about it and there was nothing we could do to stop it and nobody knew. For Betty-Lou to have the ability to articulate and communicate the trauma that was endured during our childhood proves that there is a promise of hope for others. I know the journey that Betty-Lou has travelled because I am her twin sister” Debby-Lou

Journey With Me Betty-Lou is an outspoken provincial advocate, speaker, active committee member and facilitator/trainer for Mental Health, Addictions, Trauma and Bereavement reform, and is the recipient of the 2009 Centre for

Addiction & Mental Health (CAMH) Transforming Lives Award. A survivor of childhood trauma, mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, as well as multiple significant losses, Betty-Lou has succeeded in sustaining her recovery, without relapse, despite the death of her beloved son Pete who died at age 25 on Dec 23 2001 of an OxyContin drug overdose.

Because of her traumatic childhood which she fully recognizes, set her up for her own mental health and addiction issues that cycled from generation to generation, Betty-Lou has completed studies in:

Child Abuse-Mentoring Abused Child/Youth Youth Alive-Youth culture Concurrent Disorders for High Risk Youth Suicide Intervention/Prevention for Youth Youth Restorative Justice Mediation Youth Harm Reduction/Human Rights Collaborative Problem Solving for Child/Youth with social, emotional & behavioral issues

Additionally, she has both training and past experience within Children's Aid Society, Big Brothers/Sisters, Journal Mentoring for court ordered youth, Restorative Justice, Conflict Mediation and Citizen’s Police Academy Betty-Lou has worked on specialized projects such as: Health Minister’s Consumer Advisory for the 10 year Mental Health & Addiction Strategy Health Minister’s Expert Working Group Narcotic Addiction CAMH on-line training for professionals working with families affected by Concurrent Disorders

She is currently a board director for the Canadian Mental Health Association–HRB and is also engaged in multi-focused strategies to improve outcomes for others. “Childhood trauma, mental illness and addiction are tough, complex social issues that need to be talked about publicly so others can feel safe and be safe by reducing the isolation, shame, stigma and barriers. It is imperative to create avenues for dialogue either through direct communication or through expressive arts”

Table of Contents Glass in My Sandbox-Inside the Mind of Childhood Trauma.....................................Cover page Creating “Safe Space” for the 2 Book Reviews........................................................................................ 3-4 Journey With 5 Table of 6-7 This Narrative is Very Real and 8 Wow,Talk About A Picture Of Beginnings & 9 Handicapped Before Their 10-11 Fragmented...Shhhh It Is A 12 We Live In A Haunted 13 The Tornado-My Childhood 14 Is There Anything 15 Overexposed To 16 Cried The Tiny Child (All Of 9 Years Old) 17-18 Please Don’t 19 20 I Am So Terrified 21 Trying To Find 22 This Is Really 23 They Are Home From The Bar 24 That Is My Parents Up 25

Dear 26 I Can’t Find My 27 28 Am I A 29 Rambling 30 I Don’t Seem To Have A 31 I Am Finally Running 32-33 Haunted 34-35 That Is All That Is Left Of 36 Thinking back To Simpler 37 Look What You 38 All The Secrets I 39 I Have Grown From Child To 40 NO-I Can’t Do This 41 As I Grew 42 Growing 43 Still Lost & Live in Fear of My Shadow 44 It Would Appear-Out With The Garbage 45 Walking Into A Period Of My 46-47 Sometimes Endings Are Just 48-49 Not Sure How to Close This Sharing.........................................................................Page 50 Little Books of Big Pain Series- List of the three Picture Voice & Prose Journeys in this series available for free download, website info to access, cover pages and 51-55

This narrative is both very real and very raw My childhood was extremely violent and traumatic being brought up with alcoholic parents And a mother that acted out in brutal violence and rage when she drank My mother also had mental health issues

And I have worked hard to release them from any blame

I have come to understand that they did their best Within those skill sets and dynamics Within that framework Of mental health & addiction But the massive dysfunction

And resulting chaos

Was brutal It crippled my siblings and I And set me up for my own battle with mental health and addictions.... ......Due

to the trauma

Before you start this journey with me I need you to know that I have healed I have healed that traumatized little girl we are going to visit next And that wounded fragmented inner child has been made whole

I have integrated her back into me

Recovery is absolutely possible!

Wow talk about a picture of beginnings Potential and hope My twin sister and I when we were born

My parents when they got married Under an umbrella Of happiness

As it all unfolds We kids would soon need

That umbrella For the impending storm And all the tears

HANDICAPPED BEFORE THEIR TIME (The Cycle) A family torn apart with parents fighting And increasing levels of violence and chaos Results in children that lose the ability to grow

They continually block out the pieces That are too much to process And that mutates them They can’t cope with the trauma The lack of love that's shown Though sometimes unintentional Nurtures a lonely isolation And feels like punishment For a crime They did not commit The development of love & trust Is virtually impossible No one's there to nurture them They feel a sense of “branding” Never quite fitting in with other kids Because they can’t see their worth Filtering through frightened eyes And distorting into a coldness That strips away any warmth Learning to live on adrenaline Developing succinct survival skills But not developing intimate growth They are confused and lost

Children reflect the turmoil that's grown internally and externally Not trusting others or themselves Often defeated and frightened

Filling the void with strategic guarded role playing The framework is not there to build on for the future

As the process unfolds

Resentment sets in Then as young adults

the rage morphs And residue pain paints their outlook

Fragmented and stunted by the time adulthood arrives

Incapable of intimacy Because at every single level There is something seriously wrong That catapults out of control Into repeated patterns of chaos A chaos that seems to manifest And attract the worst of outcomes It is impossible to build on a gutted foundation There is no workable framework It’s a constant flow of self medicating And eventual death of the soul This can be close to impossible to revive When one’s spirit has drowned in sorrow and secrets And the battle fatigue has set in Or there are so many consequences Of the miasms they are stuck in Blocked with debris That was not there’s to hold

I am one of these products A product of my parent’s dysfunction Passed down from their parents The craziness, the booze……the violence That I had to self-medicate as I spiraled into another level of hell trying to recover When it is your turn to parent Protect your children by dealing with your “demons” and securing your wellness Because we can’t afford to be messed up like this

It affects our children EVEN when we fight hard to break that cycle Sadly and naively I found out that love is not enough

Fragmented Shhhhhhhhh..... It is a secret I am not allowed to talk about it To anybody I’ll get into trouble

This is my twin sister and I Surrounding this house We look haunted

That is because We lived in a haunted house Our parent’s drinking And fighting made the house haunted

The Tornado- My Childhood Home Try growing up

While your home is spinning

In a tornado of rage and cataclysmic dysfunction And the storm clouds never clear long enough To see any sunshine

The violent rotation never settles long enough To actually calm

So the adrenaline keeps spiking And the fight

Or flight response

Was always

In high gear for me Not good for a child Cause nothing Seems normal

Unless it is really Messed up

No matter how much it terrifies you

Is there anything sadder? Is there anything sadder? Than a little girl who constantly cries on the inside But hardly ever lets it out

Is there anything sadder than a little girl so scared that she actually wants to die? In a very real way She is suicidal When she should be Playing And having fun With no cares or worries But she can’t Because it is all stuck inside The craziness The fear The rage The confusion The instability The haunting The feeling that somebody is going to die If she doesn’t stay awake and stand guard The fights and bloodshed keep replaying in her head And she wonders why she got the parents that fight

All the time

In such a brutal and violent way

Overexposed to violence In my family home Negatively Printed With Trauma Watermarked With tears Damaged

"CRIED THE TINY CHILD ….all of nine years old

The screaming it got louder, as she ran down to the source She stumbled past her mother, who never showed remorse She knew now what had happened, again blood marked the course And when she found her father, her stomach wretched with force "YOU'VE HURT HIM!” cried the tiny child all of nine years old. "Oh daddy please don't lie there, it scares me half to death" She moves to touch the bleeding, "Oh God please take a breath” She screams for mom to help him, but all mom does is stare She'll run and get the neighbours, at least they'll stop to care "DON"T BLOCK ME!" cried the tiny child all of nine years old. "I'm going to go get help dad, don't move or you'll bleed more" "I've got the knife that mom had, I'll walk her to the door But now mom's trance is broken, her eyes are glaring wide Mom lunges for her father, and smacks her to the side "PLEASE STOP THIS!” cries the tiny child all of nine years old The terror of the time span, it took to clear her head She mustn't lie there too long, or daddy will be dead She jumped upon her mother, and hit with all her might But mom had got the knife back, it gleamed within the light "DON'T DO IT!” cried the tiny child all of nine years old Then mom turned and daddy rolled, he screamed for her to hide But mom still had that strange look,” I’m staying by your side!" Once again time seemed to freeze, she shook from head to toe How long could daddy lie there? Oh God she didn't know "YOU SCARE ME!” cried the tiny child all of nine years old. Her feeling they were shattered, the worst was yet to start Of all the damage done here, who would repair her heart? The blood it just kept running, and mixed with all her tears The fact that mom just stood there, was raising all her fears "I HATE YOU!” cried the tiny child all of nine years old.

A flicker in her mom's eyes, told her what was in store She shut her eyes real tightly, like all the times before "I didn't mean it mommy”, her lips she stopped to lick "I really love you both mom”‘ she knew her mom was sick "DON'T HURT ME!” cried the tiny child all of nine years old. The little girl stayed curled up, that was her one defense But nothing seemed to happen, it didn't make much sense She waited for the next move, but didn't feel the fist Cause mommy couldn't use it, again mom cut her wrist "OH GOD NO!” cried the tiny child all of nine years old. Then daddy tried to get up, to stop the bloody fight "Go lock yourself upstairs child, stay hidden out of sight!" She ran up to the bathroom, and crouched down on the floor And wondered who would come up, to bang upon the door "PLEASE DON'T DIE!” cried the tiny child all of nine years old. She blocked her eyes and ears now, the horrors to erase Would always haunt and torture, that tear stained little face "I've got your mom in bed now, I’ve bandaged up her arm" "Can you unlock the door now, she now can do no harm?" "PLEASE HOLD ME!” Cried the tiny child all of nine years old. Her daddy sounded weak now, she ran to hold him tight The house was in a shambles, her head was feeling light "I'm sorry I can't stop this, but mom needs our support" "We mustn't tell a soul now, I’ll handle the report "I KNOW DAD!” Cried the tiny child all of nine years old. "I'm going to get a drive now, you’re going to go next door" "I'll come and get you after, just like we've done before" "Your mom should sleep the night through, you know that she'll forget" "It doesn't make much sense dad”, mom never showed regret "WHY DOES SHE DRINK?” cried the tiny child all of nine years old. Several weeks have passed now, she played within her home Most people never noticed, the pain that she has known "We're going out tonight dear”, mom mentioned without thought She moved to catch her dad's eye, the tears that welled she fought "NOT AGAIN"...wisped the tiny child all of nine years old.

Please don’t fight I can’t stand it anymore I’m outside my house

Trying to cover my ears

From all the screaming

Trying not to listen to you both fight And I cry

But I have to listen to make sure no one gets hurt AGAIN

I’m trying to stop the crying But I am so scared I’m so little

I don’t know what to do To fix this

I’m outside with the garbage bags

Because I wish I could just crawl in to one of them and die

Because I can’t stand the garbage that goes on between you two

Fighting all the time

I’m so scared I don’t know what to do

Somebody please help me

Somebody please notice me I am not allowed to talk about it

So please come and get me

Please rescue me from my parents I can’t listen to this screaming anymore I’m so scared!!!


Caged Stuck Traumatized This is me I don’t look Very safe

Help Me!

I am so terrified I am so terrified right now I cannot even breathe and my heart is banging out of my chest And I have peed myself (again) because I can’t move

I am frozen in fear Your shadows of hatred towards each other Are eating me alive I can’t even fall down Because then the physical fighting will start So I stand in the middle of you two Like a very brave soldier Hoping that if I stay there You will only yell and scream and not resort to violence I don’t want to be there in the middle standing guard...

It terrifies me

I want to run and hide beside the toilet, against the wall, curled up in a ball With my hands over my ears to block it all out Sometimes I have to do that when the blood starts and I know I can’t stop it And I should do that right now I should run away and hope that someone will find me and keep me safe

But right now I can’t move, I am frozen in terror and I have peed myself (again)

I look out the window

trying to find hope

Because there is none in my house But all I see is other kids playing and having fun And I wonder why I got this family? I can’t play-I don’t know how to Nobody seems to like me They think I am weird And they call me names So I stay inside But I don’t like it in here So I hide in my bedroom with my dolls But I still can hear my parent’s hatred And I still can hear the kids playing outside....... without me So I go to the window to look out again But I only find my sadness and tears looking back at me

I am so lonely.......

This is really me And my twin sister is in the background We were twins Sleeping in the same bed And we never talked about it Not even to each other We were too terrified All we heard from each other During the terror of those nights Were our tears hitting our pillows After another bloodbath And mop up Another of mommy’s suicide attempts Cutting her wrists But that was after she had stabbed my father We watched it all....but we were too little to stop it

They are home from the bar again They drank too much again They are fighting again And it will get worse As the night goes on Pure violence

I can’t do this Anymore I give up! Let the monsters Take me I never had a chance anyhow.... I am too little and I am so tired

That is my parents up there surrounding me

Holding my twin sister and I One Question Mom...Dad What happened?? You looked happy Why did it all fall apart on us????

Dear God How come you do not answer my prayers? I ask for very little I ask that you help me And that you help my parents to stop fighting But if you can’t I would like to come and live with you Right now! I can’t be here anymore I cry all the time And I am scared Please come and get me I would like to fly with the angels I would like to sleep on the fluffy clouds But most of all I would just like to be able to sleep And not listen to all the screaming

! Can’t find my way I am blinded by the terror Of my parent’s pain & addictions I am lost in a fog that fades me I wish I lived on this cloud Free from chaos Can’t face this any more I can’t see Nobody sees me How is it I still cry all the time? When I have lost my face and can’t see Somehow I have to face this Because I am only a little girl And I have nowhere else to live Someone please help my parents I still love them very much

CONFLICT The child who gets “bruised” from her parents If consistent…… Could learn how to hate But when those same “bruising” parents Also give you love It is hard to hate them It is hard to understand That you need protection From those Who are supposed to be Protecting you With the hate Comes the guilt So you learn Not to hate them But with the love Comes the hurt So you try Not to love them Then you hide And pray And wait For the next move And just follow your adrenaline Only to be lead by a rush of emotions That are warping What you have not even learned yet

Lost in a forest of conflict and mixed emotions

Am I a ghost? Only my shadow sees me Maybe that is why I live in a haunted house I am haunted And scared to death Nobody seems to notice me Or my tears Maybe I am dead And God forgot to come and get me And the angels flew right by me And I am stuck here ...with this crazy family


Rambling Worries Where are my angels? Where are my wings? Who gave me this family? Where are my angels?

Maybe they are lost

Where are my wings? Maybe they are broken There must be some mistake!

It feels like a zoo I am stuck in a zoo! With people that act like animals

I wish I had money so I could find a wishing well And make lots of wishes Maybe that would help Would my wishes come true?

Where are my angels? I don’t understand Who gave me this family? There must be some mistake!

If I had wings would they work? Could I actually fly away?

Would somebody help me PLEASE?

I am so lost and confused

I don’t seem to have a reflection I stand in front of the mirror but I am not there I have gone to hide again In plain site It is not hard ‘cause no one notices me I don’t even notice myself anymore

I react through fear And adrenaline moves me Out of my body And I go to that escape

In my mind Where I laugh and have fun And play with my imaginary friends (‘cause I don’t seem to have any real ones) I am okay with disappearing

it is much safer

For me.....

Haunted Memories A little girl lay lying in the middle of the night Her parents were still yelling cause all they did was fight The violence, it would start soon and she’d need to intercede She remembered all the other times, the horrendous, frightening scenes It was always such a blood bath, a violent horrendous sight Fists that grabbed at weapons and carried through the night "I KNOW I'M ONLY LITTLE BUT I STILL KNOW IT IS WRONG I ONLY WANTED PEACEFULNESS IT'S ALL I'VE EVER LONGED." The chaos is exploding and she’s starting to throw up But she has to go downstairs now and be prepared to duck From all the flying objects, fists and then THAT KNIFE Never knew the target; just that someone would get sliced “IT’S GOING TO STAB MY FATHER OR SLICE MY MOTHER’S WRISTS WHY CAN'T THEY FINALLY MAKE UP AND SHARE A TENDER KISS?" Experience has proved that this won't be the case She sneaks back down the stairs again and there she has to face Who has got the worst of wounds and needs the help the most Her head is always pounding and she feels just like a ghost “ I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY DRANK AGAIN WHICH ALWAYS MADE THEM FIGHT MY TEARS AND FEARS WOULD FOLLOW ME WITH EVERY BLOOD STAINED SIGHT” You couldn't pick a favourite cause they both got really hurt Once again a tiny child with feelings ground to dirt And then it all went silent, an eerie warning sign So down the stairs she comes again and sneaks up from behind

Mommy’s stabbing daddy with the usual kitchen KNIFE She has to move so swiftly or daddy will lose his life Just like a programmed robot the little child must jump She's splattered in a bloodbath and her throat chokes on a lump “I JUST CAN’T MAKE A DIFFERENCE BUT I SURE AM GOING TO TRY ‘CAUSE I LOVE THEM BOTH TOO MUCH FOR ONE OF THEM TO DIE!” A little girl lay crying in the middle of the night Her parents are still yelling, another day of fights The violence, it would start soon and she’d have to intercede She remembers all the others and the terribly bloody scenes She senses from the length of time this battle has gone on That this is one isn’t going to stop, it’s gone on way too long Her heart it won’t stop racing as she runs to block the door But mommy beats her in there and locks the bathroom door Reacting from the fear and pain, a traumatized child keeps hitting Against that huge locked bathroom door where behind her mom was slitting Deep into both of her wrists with that razor and that knife And right on cue mom swallowed pills to try and end her life



The child knew mom would take enough to show them her defiance She stayed and guarded at the door but screamed out into silence Then mommy finally comes out and proudly shows her wrists That were gaping wide and open, spurting blood from all the slits

That tiny little defenseless child knew she was going to fall

She took care of her mothers' wrists then collapsed into the hall "IF ONLY IT WOULD END!!!!" CRIED THE WOUNDED CHILD IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT

This is all that is left of me I don’t think I grew beyond this age I grew on the outside BUT I stayed frozen in cumulated trauma Everything gets stuck by nine year years old And I think I stayed stuck at that trauma point well into my adult years I remember patchy flashes of before and after And know lots more happened after I was nine But it did not matter anymore I had broke by that point And continued trauma simply was Continued trauma

I could not feel anymore This is strange seeing as I stayed terrified And terrified is actually a feeling but it morphed into a tangible manifestation A part of me like a leg or an arm I didn’t live anymore.... I just coped as best I could and the adrenaline kept me in survival mode But I was gone.....No longer me......I was buried And that birthed my wounded inner child that reflected and rejected No matter what I looked like on the outside I always looked like this on the inside

Frozen Ghost

Thinking back to simpler times before the alcohol fueled the simmering rage When we first started out This is such a beautiful picture But you turned toxic quickly And your level of disregard for each other was venomous

You would drink into violence Having bloody battles like warriors in an arena Right in front of your kids

Constantly! ALWAYS! You got so carried away that you trapped your kids in the middle And it just escalated out of control Nobody spoke to anybody We lived in that uncomfortable angry silence Except when you were screaming Raging out of control or spilling blood

Our tears weren’t enough

Look what you did You made me “The canary in the coal mine” When I was born I could sing but soon your fighting warped me And the poison in the atmosphere

Of my childhood ate at me And I know You didn’t mean to do that But you did

I can’t sing anymore

I can’t smile Because I have to wear A protective mask To filter out your poison That you unintentionally choked me with

A harbinger of things to come in my life

All the secrets I keep To myself From myself Eats away at me And my inner shell mutates And all that is visible To me Is the left over debris And I reflect back dirt

Even as a younger child I felt ugly

Now as a preteen I feel like everybody sees my scars And they think I am ugly too

I don’t have dreams Just nightmares I can’t even see A future for me Maybe that is a good thing

I have grown from child to teen And my eyes have opened But it is EVEN DARKER now that I can see The darkness

Deep inside of me The depth Saturation of dysfunction Multitude of scars Layers of trauma That colours me black

And keeps me hidden

In unadorned sight I am starting to sink Even deeper

I am starting to act out what I don’t quite recognize yet

No...I Can’t, I Can’t Do This Anymore!!! Are you blind? Can you not see me? Did you ever see me? Did you ever care? How can I feel That you cared About me When your damn fighting And dysfunction takes priority all the time I’m still stuck outside that door Terrified to open it But I can’t Cause it is still locked And I can’t bang on it To get you to open it Because I am STILL Terrified Of what I might see I am haunted By my memories Your crap My trauma I’m still that little girl stuck outside the door Too terrified to move away Could you have possibly done anymore damage? To me

As I grew older I carry the burden Of my childhood And it birthed My wounded inner child

The burden was so staggering That I split off a huge piece of myself And my wounded child sunk deep inside of me As I tried furiously to keep us both safe Not even knowing that I did that Not even knowing that a huge portion of my being had fragmented And left me missing pieces of myself That created another foundation Of distortion That sunk me deeper into darkness My “little girl” self was screaming

Keep me safe!

Keep me safe!

I disassociated with myself –not even aware that the split had happened A weird dangerous dynamic of unknowingly keeping her safe By burying her alive deep inside of me She held the memories of the worst that I had endured But her pain was excruciating and paralyzing And it radiated out from the core of my being

Suppressed trauma

Growing Dysfunction It is starting to feel like I am drowning in a sea of tears Sometimes I know I am crying for her My inner child-That damaged little girl- Buried so deep inside of me That part of me that was so destroyed I grew on the outside But I couldn’t get past her damage In order to survive I had to fracture off She keeps the secrets I keep her safe But we both carry the trauma And we are both wounded badly Neither one of us is functional at all She is crying - I am dying She keeps screaming out her terror And fear from deep inside of me And her pain is so palpable That it is terrifying us both I don’t remember all the horror That she has been through Because she has taken most of the secrets with her And I don’t know how to heal that inner child of mine I react to what I remember and the scars are piling up I also react to what I have blocked out and don’t remember And the shadows are becoming more pronounced in the middle of the night Every time I close my eyes - I am terrified - We both shiver in fear - My inner child and I She wakes me up as soon as I close my eyes because if I sleep I have nightmares I remember more and more of the childhood secrets And my little girl….that precious wounded inner child Begs me to protect her so she can protect me from being re-traumatized TRAPPED and falling…

I am still lost and live in fear of my shadow self My whole identity has been destroyed A deep depression has morphed Anxiety and panic fuel my days I am full of thorns

That damaged little girl part of me Has festering wounds Which are poisoning me

She is killing both of us I need to reach her She IS my identity I have to free her somehow I must release her damage Integrate her back Into my being So I can be whole

How does one search for a piece of themselves That carries so much memory and traumatic pain That it may kill me trying to put that piece back together But my sanity and true identity depends on this

Who will put Humpty together again?

It would appear That I am out here with garbage again As I reflect and mirror and regress back to childhood functioning Hiding outside my house with the garbage Garbage in Garbage out It is all garbage My life is garbage And I can’t seem to escape EXCEPT..... Now that I am no longer a child I run away Without physically running Anymore I escape With self harm

I cut myself to divert from my emotional pain I also intentionally don’t eat Hoping to disappear This is strange Seeing as I prayed to be noticed when I was a child Still nobody really sees me but I am okay with that now

And soon in my future I will self medicate Losing myself for many years with drugs, alcohol and complete mental breakdowns

I am walking into a period in my life That is going to be so intense All the flashbacks are going to come All the egregious violence Will implode And I will explode Into a cascading waterfall of destruction Completely losing myself Into drugs and booze And regressive behaviours My mind will unravel As it started to as a child And worsen into my pre-teen and teen years

But as a young adult I will start to spiral And by age 25

I will take my first drink

And like my parents I will “blossom� Into a full blown alcoholic........ at a highly accelerated pace And not reach true recovery until I am 40 years old

Plus I will start smoking and using drugs And become addicted to Cocaine, Marijuana, and massive volumes of prescription barbiturates such as Valium, Quaaludes & Seconal Also wipe out my mind with a sleeping pill addiction to the controversial Halcion

And not reach true recovery until I am 40 years old I won’t be able to get high enough to drown the mental health pain So I will resort to mixing them day and night

Juxtaposed with the drug addiction and alcoholism I will continue with other self harm such as cutting Begin to act on the suicidal tendencies/idealization that started as a child And will be diagnosed with psychiatric illnesses such as Rapid Cycling Bi Polar Anxiety & Panic Disorders Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder Borderline Personality Disorder & Anorexia

None of those will be successfully treated Until I finally share- childhood secrets And the trauma, loss & grief is finally recognized and I am diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

And not reach true recovery until I am 40 years old Not exactly what one aspires to!

In reality, given my childhood, the path was paved for me....

I walked in the shoes I was given

Sometimes endings are just that But most times they are just the beginning Once you have worked it all through I am not going to go into The latter path of the journey My spiral into the pit of mental health and addiction That is a whole other book Coming in this series I think enough has been captured here To end without really ending But enough to find closure

Although I intended to limit The amount of pictures of myself I feel it is important For the emotional engagement That you can look into my eyes From this portrait and actually see the light that radiates from me now

After coming through the other side of the tornado Something that is essential for me to share

I LOVE both of my parents and I know they loved me and my siblings Regardless of what we journeyed into together

They were good people with a lot of scars and a very toxic marriage They both died at young ages My dad died at age 51 (30 years ago) and my mom died at age 67 (just over nine years ago) And as always with death comes another brutal process

Grieving both my parents and my lost childhood A particularly complex process when there is so much scar tissue to work through But life is for the living and there can be re-birthing in death I “died” as a child, as a teen, as a young adult and well into my early adult years And NEEDED to find my light Discover how to mediate a resolution And mitigate the damage Freedom comes From TRUE forgiveness TRUE forgiveness comes from wisdom Empathy NOT Apathy is essential And the courage to explore the polarities To find the middle ground Lots went wrong..... Not much went right But I don’t need to be right and I don’t need for another to be wrong

Sometimes it just is

I personally think that we all do the best we can with the skill sets we have at the time The healing comes from recognizing that - The wisdom comes from applying what you have learned

To help yourself and others

Daring to care enough to share

I’m not sure How to close out this sharing Except to let you know

She made it

My wounded inner child

I made it Through the healing processes We have integrated

And now we are one We share love We share joy We share harmony We laugh And explore life

Fearlessly Always finding miracles & gifts Having learned how to SEE the world With that child-like sense of Of wonder and awe

We look forward to each day Together And we NEVER keep secrets from each other

WE ARE ONE My own best friend

“Little Books of Big Pain” Series By Betty-Lou Kristy are uniquely artistic depictions of lived experience journeys of a mother (Betty-Lou) and her late son (Pete) that utilize picture and soulful prose narratives that invites the reader into a depth of emotional engagement not possible to articulate in spoken word. Each is a brutally honest and intensely real testament of polarizing, yet juxtaposed, explorations into darkness and light. The reader will recognize the astounding ability of the human spirit to rise from the ashes, find peace in the chaos, new strengths from the horrors and the true gifts of enlightenment that can be realized. Living Bereaved- A Mother’s Journey: Captivating reflection & dialogue takes the reader through many stages of Betty-Lou’s grieving and profound devastation after the death of her son Pete but also allows the reader to be a part of the latter stages of the grief process when Betty-Lou was able to attain integration, resolution and spiritual enlightenment. The ability for a mother and child, regardless of physical death, to let their love-soul connection lead them is staggering and profound. This expression of vulnerability and dedication is not intended just for those dealing directly with bereavement issues but also for others trying to help and/or understand the intense pain of losing a child. (File Size: 4 MB) Mutations of the Mind- A Child Lost To Prescription Pain Opioid Medication & Mental Health: Searing dynamics of a child lost (Pete) to Oxycontin overdose and a mother (Betty-Lou) already living in recovery from her own mental health and addiction issues trying to hold on without relapsing. Step inside juxtaposing life paths as mother and son were trapped in the generational cycle unable to source help or hope....and that cost Pete his life. The reader (those living this or others trying to help/understand) is privy to reality, honesty and vulnerability throughout this delineation and gifted with awareness, insight and hope even within the tragic reality. (File Size: 4.1 MB) Glass in My Sandbox- Inside the Mind of Childhood Trauma:” For the abused child and the broken inner child.” Betty-Lou journeys into her traumatic childhood being the child of dysfunctional alcoholic parents and a mother that acted out in brutal violence and rage when she drank. Viewed through the eyes & emotions of that wounded child allows the reader (survivors or someone who is trying to help/understand) to gauge what exploded inside and clearly portrays how trauma affects children. There is fear, terror, loneliness, isolation and darkness visited.... but it is wrapped in outcomes of light, hope and recovery. Betty-Lou has very carefully crafted a safety net being cognizant of balancing what is disclosed to avoid re-triggering trauma for the reader. (File Size: 4.3 MB) Being provided free of charge

In collaboration with, an eco-friendly trusted ePublisher and a convenient, cost effective eBook Store where you can buy quality eBook guides for life's experiences, my lived experience picture & soulful prose narratives are available for download free of charge at This site has my bio, CAMH Transforming Lives Award video and a memorial video of my late son Pete. If you would prefer to have me e-mail you the e-books directly then feel free to contact me at I am using this page in all three e-books, to guide readers to the other titles in this series to date. The cover pages and peer/community agency reviews of the other e-books in this series follow next.

Living Bereaved –A Mother’s Journey Book One from “My Little Books of Big Pain Series” By: Betty-Lou Kristy

A soulful dialogue Of integration And exploration

A journey Of grief expression With my late son

Picture Prose & Musings From A Mother Original Copyright 2011© by Betty-Lou Kristy; Revised 2nd edition 2012- Copyright 2012© by Betty-Lou Kristy. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be retransmitted, copied, or duplicated in any way without the expressed permission of the author.

Reviews: Living bereaved-A Mother’s Journey

“In this courageous disclosure of her experience, Betty-Lou Kristy gives voice to the intense emotions that rise in the awakening to the death of one’s child. She powerfully guides the reader through her journey with her son, Pete, and provides insight into the enduring cycles of pain, hope, re-learning and integration that illustrate a parent’s grief. She reminds us that it is the depth of devotion to our children that crushes us in moments of desperate longing, and our children’s reciprocal love that encourages forward movement in their absence.” JA (Judy) Jonusas, Bereaved mother of Chandler Mangold; Griefscapes Founder; Business & Transition Coach

“A powerful, relentlessly honest and intense exploration of a bereaved mother's love for her son and her courageous determination to make sense of this most heart wrenching, brutal life experience: Betty-Lou draws deeply on her innermost creative, spiritual resources in re-membering Pete and the many facets of their relationship. In mastering a new way of living both without him and with him, forever in her heart, she allows us to discover with her, the light beneath the dark.” Charlene Winger-Manager, North Halton Mental Health Clinic

"Betty-Lou has done a wonderful job sharing her personal story of tragedy and triumph. She never gives up the HOPE of eventually healing and experiencing continued growth while continuing to face on-going grief, adversity and challenge. She shows us the way...this story is meant for her growth and for our growth. Faith and hope guide Betty-Lou through the tragic death of her son. She has shown tenacity and endurance in surviving one of the worst nightmares one ever has to weather, the loss of a dear child, especially an only child. This story is meant for our growth so we can expand our higher selves to reach even higher and to guide others along the journey of life, which is often almost unbearable for some. She is an example of someone who has come to terms with what happened with hope, growth and understanding.” Karen Zizzo-Author; Inspirational Speaker; Life Coach

“As a bereaved mother myself, I have felt these intense feelings but could never interpret them through verse or a creative medium. Betty-Lou allows us to feel her pain, and intense raw emotion throughout her continuous journey after the loss of her son… her life. Thank you for allowing others to share in your insight into the depths of grief, and how this tribute to your son encourages a life of moving forward.” Lisa Alexander -Bereaved Parent; Director of Community Engagement, Bereaved Families of Ontario-Halton/Peel

“A very personal, raw and revealing expression of love; Thank you Betty-Lou for sharing what so many feel, but can not express.” Madeleine Buhlau – Bereaved mother to Thayer Buhlau; Executive Director Bereaved Families of Ontario – Halton/Peel

Mutations of the mind Second Manuscript from My “Little Books of Big Pain” Series

By: Betty-Lou Kristy

A Child Lost To Prescription Pain (Opioid) Medication Addiction and Accidental overdose Plus Unresolved Mental Health Issues Picture Prose & Musings Copyright 2012© by Betty-Lou Kristy- All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be retransmitted, copied, or duplicated in any way without the expressed permission of the author.

Reviews: ‘Mutations of The Mind’ (A child lost to opioids)

“Only a person that has experienced mental health problems themselves can understand the terror of losing their soul. Only a person trapped in addiction- lost in its depths of despair can feel the pain of trying to find their way back. Only a parent that has lost their child to drugs can describe the horror and anguish of its reality. Only a mother that has lost her son can write about the agony of love ripped from the womb. Betty-Lou has lived it all.” Bill Robinson- A bereaved father from Oakville who lost his son James to OxyContin addiction

"An immensely revealing and raw journey through a grieving mother's psyche; Prepare to be broadsided by the cataclysm addiction can leave in its wake" A. Spencer-In recovery from prescription opioid (oxycontin) addiction

“In this raw and honest account, Betty-Lou gives voice to her feelings of grief, anguish, and guilt, at not being able to save her only child, Pete, from an addiction which proved fatal. Through courage and strength, drawn from the unconditional love shared by a mother and son, she tells their story... and Pete's voice continues to be heard. Though heartbreaking, their story is also one of hope, and serves as a poignant reminder of the necessity that effective services be available to those of us who share similar struggles.” Sean Winger-Addiction Counsellor; MMT Consumer Advocate-In MMT since 2002 to treat an addiction to Oxycontin

“Betty Lou’s empowering story demonstrates the capacity of the human spirit to sustain life despite the trail of tragedy and despair left by mental health and addiction issues in one’s life. This book is a learning tool for all who live with mental health issues and those who wish to understand their lives.” Linda Chamberlain-Consumer survivor activist and founder of the Dream Team

“For those of us who have lost a child through death embracing each day becomes such a heart wrenching, unbearable struggle. Betty-Lou Kristy's book depicts her personal struggle after the death of her only child. She candidly shares her innermost feelings of guilt and her temptation to withdraw and sink forever deeper into her despair. She talks openly about drug addiction and mental health issues. It is incredibly honest & painful.” Sandy Wiltshire, a bereaved mom and author of My Gift of Light

“Betty-Lou Kristy is a one woman power-pack that has turned adversity, a self destructive behavior and heart-wrenching personal loss into a very personal self empowering mission that has saved countless lives. The unimaginable hardship that this remarkable woman has faced in her life time has laid the foundation for healing, teaching and the unlimited soul growth of not only her, but the countless, sometimes nameless and faceless people she has and continues to fight for. Betty-Lou’s life is a light for many who live in darkness.” Christopher Stillar-Spiritual Medium and author of Pennies from Heaven

Glass in my sandbox childhood trauma  

Glass in My Sandbox- Inside the Mind of Childhood Trauma:” For the abused child and the broken inner child.” Betty-Lou journeys into her tra...

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