Childhood Trauma & Abuse Does Happen. It Is Part of My Past & Roots to My Gambling Addiction and a Way to Cope. Now It Can Stay In My Past. . .

Childhood Trauma & Abuse Does Happen. It Is Part of My Past & Roots to My Gambling Addiction and a Way to Cope. Now It Can Stay In My Past. . .


My father recently passed away of COVID. He lived in Southern California with my older sister in the home, where horrible memories of my past childhood still lay. When I first began my recovery journey,
I wasn’t ready to dive into my past childhood trauma and haunting memories.

It took me a few years and a lot of therapy to even begin to process this and forgive and lay those haunting memories away. It was some of the roots and underlying issues of how I got sucked into my gambling addiction. I was using gambling as a coping skill and an escape from the pain of my childhood trauma until I finally could not stuff away any longer.

Even when I began writing and journaling for my book over a year to see what gambling addiction had taken from me, I was just not ready to share that part of my past. Now that my mom and dad have passed on, it has again begun to surface slightly.

One of the many amazing things about truly working through childhood sexual abuse is the act of taking every single thought and terrible memory captive and watching Christ redeem them, facing them, and feeling them. Without making excuses. Without placing or taking the blame. Finally, today the abuse and abuser no longer linger in the darkest parts of your mind controlling or tainting the memories you have because I have many happy childhood memories despite what happened to me.


But with my dad’s passing, it seemed they were front and center. I was begging them to be defeated. Way back then, every day, and sometimes minute-by-minute, battles are fought to reclaim simple things, innocent objects, smells, and sounds. Things that may seem trivial to others represent a great victory.  That being said, today, I fought a battle and won. Today, I reclaimed what should have been a pleasant childhood memory. Today, I ate an Italian wedding cookie and enjoyed it. That won’t mean much to you, but to me, it is a significant victory.

The significance of this? As a little girl, we would go on weekends to see my aunt Anna and uncle Frank who lived in Palm Springs, CA., and my uncle Frank would always prepare a special dinner to eat for our visits which included terrific desserts. I loved my aunt Anna as she bought and gave me my very first Bible.

And I would love to hear my uncle Frank talk and share about all the famous people who came into his restaurant and who he cooked for, like Bob Hope, former President Ford, famous golfers, and many others. I loved going swimming too, as they had a fantastic pool in the backyard. 

My uncle would always make one of my favorites, Italian wedding cookies. However, I didn’t get to eat them until my parents brought them home because my oldest brother would talk me into staying home; he’d beg and entice me with all kinds of lies.

And that is when the trauma would occur. It was only then, after being a good girl, until our parents got home late that evening, I would have access to my favorite cookies. It didn’t take long before those cookies became like poison. For the mere smell of almond or amaretto to make me physically ill.

After hiding the sordid details of my childhood back then, I believe the Holy Spirit, moving, convinced me it was time to process and bury my demons and began for me around age 30. But now it is time to rebury more old demons, and the only way I could do that was to reclaim the territory my enemy had taken so many years ago—Italian wedding cookies.  As I paused before taking a bite, I reminded myself of where I was today within my recovery journey, and I took a bite. It was wonderful. Not only did it taste good, but I felt strong.

As if I was declaring to my abuser, “No! You may not have these cookies! (Yes, my brother had apologized, I forgave him, we have made amends as he shared with me & my husband that had been molested by our uncle Joe when we lived in NJ.)



You defiled my innocence, not knowing his was to. Still, you may not steal my ability to enjoy a cookie!” My life is full of moments like that. Every day there is a battle fought and sometimes won. They often go unnoticed by the people closest to me. However, they are mighty victories. There are often things we carry from our childhood that restrain our ability to enjoy simple things. 

Abuse and trauma can destroy our ability to accept and receive the good things God intended for us to have. Love and intimacy are some of those things. Just as the smell of a particular type of cookie triggered a reaction of fear and shame, the idea of love can seem meant for destruction. Therefore, the very idea that God “loves” us terrifies us.

Love to an abuse survivor often means manipulation and pain. So it took me a while to grasp the concept of God’s unconditional love. Why? My parents did not understand it, so I was not raised with it. Of course, not blaming my parents at all. They may not have been taught knowing what unconditional love was either. 

It took me years to begin to understand that Christ chose me; He loves me not because He needs me for anything. He did not send His son to die for me in an attempt to guilt me into trusting Him or doing things for Him. He chose me and loved me because He is God. He is all-sufficient.

I may not be able to reclaim my childhood. I still battle with depression, flashbacks, and agoraphobia. However, I chose the love of Christ to reclaim how I react to things. I can select feeling pleasure over feeling fear, and I can choose love over hate. I can pick these things because Christ has given me the power and ability, just as my recovery is a part of the freedom found in Christ. 

He has given me the ability to and the freedom from addiction and bondage of addicted gambling! 

He gave me the freedom to love, freedom to forgive, freedom to rejoice, And the freedom to enjoy a cookie! 

Catherine Lyon, Recovery Advocate

My brother, me, my older sis, my little sister in Palm Springs, CA.


Guest Article That “Touched My Memory” of My Mental Health As A Child.

Guest Article That “Touched My Memory” of My Mental Health As A Child.

Most of my recovery friends, readers, and regular visitors know I enjoy finding many amazing websites about recovery from addiction and mental health. I vowed this year to write and share more openly about my mental health challenges. So when I recently visited one of my resource websites on mental health, my friends of National Alliance on Mental Health  ~NAMI …I read a new article I wanted to share.

Because when I got to reading the part of the guests” experiences with panic attacks, anxiety and such, it brought up those old feelings I got when I was in therapy and looking back to then and connecting the dots to my own problems as a child and early teens with symptoms, especially after my abuse and sexual trauma that happened. I was able to see that I had many mental health issues even back then but was never diagnosed until my gambling addiction took hold of me in adulthood.

The gambling I used to ‘escape and numb out’ those old hauntings which brought out the symptoms I was suffering again now. When I attempted my first suicide and placed in a crisis center for several weeks was when I was finally diagnosed. I went years without knowing what “that” was, and why I felt severely depressed on and off and PTSD, mild mania and anxiety. I was a mess!

Thanks to therapy and medications I am manged and have learned to treat my mental health just like any other disease like diabetes or heart disease. And that rings true for maintaining my recovery from addictions.

And why it is important to heal all areas of Emotional, Body, Spirit and our Mental Well-being … Catherine

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You Can’t Plan For Mental Illness ~ Courtesy of Allie Quinn | May. 23, 2018 

 
My 5-year plan after finishing high school was simple: graduate from college in four years, then begin graduate school directly following graduation. It was easy for me to imagine a 5-year plan at 18 years old when my toughest challenge at that point had been taming my frizzy hair.

My first two years of college were very successful. I made close friends, was hired by my college as a writing tutor and connected with teachers and administrators in the school district I wanted to eventually work in. I was right on track with my 5-year plan.

During my third year of college, however, the mass shooting occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I felt a very deep connection to the event and in the following months, I noticed that I was on high-alert in public areas. I worried for my safety.

A few months later, I learned about the Boston Marathon bombing when I was in my college’s library. I immediately looked at the entrance to the library and wondered where I would hide if a shooter came through the door. A habit of making “escape plans” in my head became uncontrollable. I created them for any public place, and I avoided walking in open spaces and going out at night. Each night, I dreamt that I was trying to escape from a mass shooting; even in my sleep, I couldn’t shake this overwhelming fear.

Looking back, I can see the warning signs that I needed help. I didn’t tell anyone about the thoughts and feelings I was having because I didn’t want people to think I was “unstable.” Admitting to myself or to others that something was wrong could jeopardize my 5-year plan. I told myself that all college students felt this kind of stress and that I’d feel better when the semester ended.

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My junior year ended, but instead of feeling better, I felt significantly worse. I experienced severe panic attacks, paranoia, and anxiety that made it impossible for me to drive, work or stay home alone. After I sought treatment with a therapist and psychiatrist, they recommended I check myself into a psychiatric hospital, so doctors could balance my medication, and I could learn skills to help manage my anxiety. I would be hospitalized five times, spending nearly three months in the hospital. My worst day was when I had to withdraw from my senior year. It felt like years of hard work just slipped away.

I questioned: Why didn’t I seek help sooner?


After my last hospitalization, I immediately re-enrolled in classes. I didn’t give myself the chance to heal because I wanted so badly to get back on track with my 5-year plan. Because I wasn’t working on my mental health, I struggled through two classes, and I wasn’t enjoying school like I did before.

One day, I finally accepted that if I kept putting my education before my mental health, I could risk having another breakdown. I decided to take medical leave from school; I needed to focus on my mental health and regain my strength and confidence. For the next two years, I attended therapy, worked with my psychiatrist, adopted a psychiatric service dog, discovered skills to help me cope and practiced self-care. Eventually, I felt like myself again.

So, I began college again last year. This time, I felt ready. I will be graduating this December with a B.S. in Community and Human Services. The deadline for my 5-year plan has long passed, and my life has not gone as I planned, but I am happy, healthy and have a mission to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. Battling mental illness and maintaining mental health is an ongoing part of my life, but the struggles I faced have put me on the path I’m meant to be on.

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Nami National Alliance on Mental Illness
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For example, I recently became a young adult speaker for NAMI Ending the Silence. I travel to high schools to share my journey with mental illness and talk to students about mental health and stigma.

The experience has been life-changing. For years, my goal has been to help people, and through NAMI Ending the Silence and blogging, I am making a difference. I believe that talking openly about mental health issues will end stigma and lead to more effective treatment for mental illness.

Please, if you’re experiencing symptoms or warning signs of a mental illness, seek help as soon as possible. Your mental health is farmore important than your 5-year plan. I’ve learned that college can wait—treating mental illness cannot.
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Allie Quinn is a mental health blogger, public speaker, and young adult presenter with NAMI’s Ending the Silence. She works to educate people about the realities of living with a mental illness and raises awareness about the use of psychiatric service dogs. Allie’s mental health blog is Redefine Mental Health