Life Lessons · My Thoughts · Sexual Abuse

I Confess . . .

I confess—I am a workaholic, and I’ve dealt with it for years. I just kept moving, busy, busy, busy and thought that was normal.

Here’s a definition in case you’re wondering:

workaholic is a person who works compulsively. While the term generally implies that the person enjoys their work, it can also alternately imply that they simply feel compelled to do it. There is no generally accepted medical definition of such a condition,

It all started in 1982 when I went back to Colorado State University to get my BA degree in English, my minor in Spanish with an Education concentration. Sounds pretty normal—four-year goal to finish it! Sounds reasonable!

But I was 28 years old, recently divorced and working full time as a beautician. I did get financial aid in the form of grants and loans, but I worked part time at the beauty salon to supplement my income the first year. I did try to do some babysitting that year, but having never had children, parents thought I should know what to do with their babies, and I didn’t, so that fizzled out quickly, thank God!

At the end of my freshman year, Dr. Smith who became my favorite English professor, asked me if I’d be interested in being a mentor in the English department computer lab. I was asked because of my grade point average. I had never touched a computer before in my life. The interview went well–we had a lot in common, both had rural backgrounds—me ranching and him farming. So, I got the job!

So, for rest of my three years at the CSU, I went to school full-time, worked at the beauty salon three days a week and as a mentor in the computer lab, except for my last semester when I did my student teaching, I only worked at the beauty salon on Saturday’s that semester and I stopped the mentoring position.  Wow!! And the semester I carried 18 credit hours, I had a 4.0 grade average!

It all started then—working all the time became natural.

Then as a new teacher in Denver, Colorado and then Raton, New Mexico, it was easy for me to continue this lifestyle: I taught English and regularly worked until 10:00 each night, grading papers and preparing for class the next day.

Then as the years unfolded in Raton, I became the cheerleading sponsor which demanded I attend basketball and football games after work. I also was the Student Council sponsor which required more after school meetings and my time.

When I moved to Albuquerque, I chaired the Technology committee for five years at the first school. This was the time that local area networks were coming in and we did the work ourselves. Often, I was teased that my committee was the hardest working one.

At another school, I had a computer club after school. At this time, I got really active in square dancing and volunteered whenever asked.

Over the last twenty-eight years in Albuquerque, my volunteerism in the square dance world rocketed: chairman of a national convention, published a quarterly newsletter, published a booklet of national square dance events, chaired two square dance festivals off-and-on, a board member for the Albuquerque Square Dance Center, ad nauseum!

In 1992, I volunteered to be on the committee that ran the yearly reunion for the small school I attended in southeastern Colorado and continued to do it.

The point is I’ve overdone it for years! For several years now, I have lamented regularly to friends that I was a workaholic and didn’t know how to stop! I didn’t want to quit any of my pet projects—I loved them all equally. So, I just kept going—I didn’t know how to quit.

But last year, I finally realized I needed to quit some of my obligations, so I let the reunion committee know that this year would be my last. Many of my friends at home don’t believe I’m really quitting, but I am!

With that resignation, I realized something: I could do it. All I needed to do was do it.

Since then, I have given up the chairmanship of one square dance festivals, so I’m whittling away the list.

What helped me finally face the reason for my constant activity was a revelation. I am an incest survivor, and my little girl believed if I kept moving, no one could get me again—that’s pretty amazing! The hypervigilant constant frenzy felt comfortable and safe in the midst of the chaos it created in my life.

 As I let go of these commitments, today I celebrate all the work I did. Workaholics are the type of people you want on any committee you’re on—we love to do our work and yours too! I met wonderful people all over the United States doing what I did, but today I want to be able to say, “I’m a relax-aholic instead!”

I’m afraid my current health issues may be the result of the many years of stress I’ve placed on myself. I’ve had a stomach problem since March, and I’ve had to step back and say, “No!” often. We’ve missed several family functions and dance events, and I hate that! I’m so used to going, going, going, but I can’t right now!

 The results of that have been many nights at home with my dear husband, Lin, watching TV, soaking in our hot tub and not doing much—in some ways it feels so foreign, yet we’ve gotten into a routine and even my old cat, Jesse, loves it. In the evening after our hot tub time, Jesse perches up on the arm of the loveseat on my side, ready for the TV to go on and the two of us to sit there all evening with him! Usually we dance three to four times a week. We’ve been lucky to do one night currently.

I hope this information helps you if you share my concern about this problem. Here’s a list of seven criteria to assess the likelihood that an individual possesses a work addiction from Forbes:

1. You think of how you can free up more time to work.
2. You spend much more time working than initially intended.
3. You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and/or depression.
4. You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
5. You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
6. You deprioritize hobbies, leisure activities, and/or exercise because of your work.
7. You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
If you answered with “often” or “always” to any of these points, you may be a workaholic. The study concluded that about 8.3% of the Norwegian workforce is addicted to work – other studies have suggested about 10% of the average population in other countries are workaholics.

            Forbes also shared:

People identified as workaholics often ranked high in terms of these three personality traits:
Agreeableness – Workaholics are more likely to be altruistic, compliant and modest.
Neuroticism – Workaholics tend to be nervous, hostile, and impulsive.
Intellect/imagination –Workaholics are generally inventive and action oriented.

My parents taught me to work hard, but even my Mom worried about my excessive commitments. Don’t wait until you’re 65 to get this right! Start today, and I’d love to hear your comments.


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My Thoughts · Sexual Abuse

How Last Week Affected This Sexual Abuse Survivor

The long-term effects of child sexual abuse can be so pervasive that it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint exactly how the abuse affected you. It permeates everything: your sense of self, your intimate relationships, your sexuality, your parenting, your work life, even your sanity. Everywhere you look, you see its effects.

The Courage to Heal, A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

Ellen Bass and Laura Davis

Yes, I have compartmentalized my life: I have written a book, This Tumbleweed Landed, about my childhood in a small ranching community–there’s no mention of incest or sexual abuse, and I painted a pretty idealic life. How can that be? Many survivors live two lives. I did have a great childhood. The stories and poems I share in that book are real, but a pall of horror hung over that same childhood that I didn’t understand until many years later.

In June of 1993, my Mom and Dad were preparing a surprise celebration of my 40th birthday, and Mom had gathered together an envelope of pictures of me–a variety of ages until my high school graduation. She planned to post them on a poster board at my party. It never happened because I spent my 40th birthday in a Sexual Trauma Treatment Center in Los Lunas, New Mexico.

The two collages in this post are a selection of those pictures–brokenhearted Mom sent them to me in treatment. So on my birthday I went through the whole envelope and told my story to the other clients there. One client read a children’s book, celebrating the day I was born. We laughed; we cried, but we celebrated Larada.

Larada Collage
The Face of an Incest Survivor

Today when I created these two collages, I mulled over how this last week affected me, an incest survivor. My hands shook–I wondered if this was a good idea, but I had to do it.

Larada Collage 2
The Face of an Incest Survivor

When did I realize I was an incest survivor? The flashbacks started when my first husband and I separated, and I went to live in a Christian community in Windsor, Colorado. The flashbacks came like a black and white movie of my life, but I remembered only one of my perpetrators then. No one talked about sexual assault or abuse then in the late 1970’s.

After my divorce in 1981, I began to drink and act out sexually for seven years, repressing the memories that haunted me. In 1988 I ended up in CoDA (Codependent Anonymous) treatment in Kingman, Kansas. I was 35 years old. I dealt with those memories that had surfaced years before, but there were more to come. In treatment, I realized I was an alcoholic, so recovery became the focus of my life.

After my treatment in 1993, I met with a therapist regularly for about twenty years and healed a large part of the injury to my soul. When I first started therapy, I defined myself as a victim; I saw the whole world through the lens of a survivor and it narrowed my perspective and possibilities for sure. As I healed, I grew to not view myself in that tainted way–now I loved my reflection in the mirror. Life continued with ups and downs–not perfection but lots of times my God helped me through. It seemed the sexual trauma issue was behind me, and I walked away from my therapist thinking we were finished. For many years, it never crossed my mind, then. . .

As the election campaign of 2016 unfolded, I heard Trump bragging about barging into the young ladies’ dressing room for the Miss Teen USA contest and something ruptured deeply in me. I held my breath–this couldn’t be. I heard more allegations about his victims. On the night of the election, I stayed up until after 1:00 am shocked and horrified to see that Trump had won. My husband commented later that my look that night was more distraught than losing an election. Yes, it was–I had to face a perpetrator as our president. I returned to therapy and renewed my ability to let go and realize that “God is control not Donald Trump.”

December 2017, the #metoo movement hit–The Silence Breakers. I felt validated by these courageous women and their stance. Perhaps this world was changing. We had to unite and tell our secrets, so I disclosed that I was a survivor on Facebook.

Then this last week came. On top of the emotional stress of the week, I had a urinary tract infection and was sick. On Thursday, I couldn’t sit and watch Dr. Ford testify–I visibly shook and turned it off, then on, then returned again and again. I wept at the horror of having to tell her story in front of the world.

The previous night I had read some of the transcript of Dr. Ford’s Opening Statement and gasped when she said that the perpetrator had held his hand over her mouth to quiet her. A similar horrific memory crashed in on me. One of my perpetrators held his hand over my mouth as he raped me and then said, “Be quiet! It doesn’t hurt.” At that point, I knew–it’s specifics like that resonate.

So I focussed totally on the Hearing and the Confirmation on Thursday and Friday–more turmoil as I read comments on my Facebook page by people accusing Dr. Ford of being a liar.

Saturday morning, I had a flashback to the last time I saw one of my perpetrators and I didn’t panic, hyperventilate or dissociate. I wrote a poem titled, “The Ultimate Betrayal,” I wrote in my journal, and I cried. I breathed a sigh of deep freedom–I have healed. Those old memories have no power over me anymore. I didn’t need to act out, rush over to my therapist or melt on the floor in a puddle of tears. I acknowledged the memory and let it go. What a difference for sure!

I agree with E. E. Cummings: “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” I know without a doubt that I am really Larada today–65 years old, loving life and married to the love of my life–a gentle kind man. We dance, we laugh and we enjoy life. Last week was hard but I survived–ready to go on believing that survivors everywhere will unite and end the secrets that need to be shared!

Again this week, I experienced my two lives but today the healed Larada won. I will follow Dr. Ford’s charge about sharing our truth: “I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me.” And I did.

Are you a survivor? Be sure and look for The Courage to Heal–A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse at


If you need any information, go to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) “is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE, y in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Look at this post on George Takei Fan World Facebook page–a visual always speaks louder than words–a stark reality.

Another resource –  “How Trauma Affects Memory: Scientists Weigh In On The Kavanaugh Hearing”

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