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Archive for December, 2007

Tree (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Ehow has hired me to write 20 more articles for them. I have already written quite a few pertaining to healing from child abuse. What other topics would you like to see covered?

Here are the articles and links to topics that I have written for eHow that cover healing from child abuse:

I have five more articles pending that should be published soon. I would like to continue to use that forum to write as many “how to’s” regarding healing from child abuse as possible. What other topics would you like to see? Please post them here, or feel free to e-mail me at faith_amom@hotmail.com.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Microscopic View (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Reiki is a wonderful way to help a person heal from child abuse. The best way to describe Reiki is as a spiritual massage. The Reiki master places her hands either on or near your body, and positive energy flows into your aura. I know that might sound a bit weird and “out there” to many people, but you really can feel the energy. It feels like you are recharging your “battery.”

I decided to try a Reiki session when a friend gave me a gift certificate to a place that gives massages. Because of my abuse history, I felt very uncomfortable with receiving a massage. However, the place offered Reiki, which was a non-touching form of massage, so I was open to trying it, especially since the session was free for me.

My first session was very powerful. I could feel positive energy flowing into me. From the outside, it might just look like I was lying on a table with a woman standing nearby with her hands touching my head or hovering above my stomach. However, I could feel the energy flowing into me. I felt invigorated afterward, even with very little physical contact taking place.

I have heard that Reiki works even when the person receiving it is skeptical and does not believe in spiritual energy. I went into the session open-minded but without really expecting much. I was a believer within minutes of the first session.

When I first started going to Reiki sessions, most of my body did not receive much energy. The Reiki master noticed that my legs felt like blocks of wood and did not “pull” any energy. I could feel a big difference between the energy flow around my head versus the rest of my body. This was because I was so disconnected from my body. I had “lived mostly in my head” because of the abuse. I was able to track my healing progress by how much of an energy flow I could feel with each session. After a couple of years, I could feel an energy flow throughout my body.

I explain this phenomenon as having “frozen” my spirit. Through self-love, I thawed my spirit. The ice melted back into my core, and I became whole. I knew that I was reaching wholeness when all of my body except for one leg pulled energy through Reiki. After I could feel the energy everywhere, I knew that I had fully integrated.

If you are looking for another tool to help you heal from child abuse, Reiki is a great way to go. It is never harmful and gives energy wherever you need it most.

Related Topic:

How to Heal From Child Abuse Through Reiki

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Light shining into cave (c) Lynda Bernhardt

This is something I wrote almost exactly three years ago.

***** religious triggers *****

I have discovered that the secret to healing is learning to love yourself, but that is easier said than done. Some people say that loving God will heal you, but I found that loving God, in and of itself, wasn’t enough – I had to be the one to make the decision to love myself. Other people say that you can heal without God, but I found that I couldn’t love myself until I saw myself through His eyes. I believe that we need God to show us the beauty of who we are, and then we need to embrace His view of ourselves as our own.

I believe that, when our abusers hurt us, they metaphorically cover our bodies with ashes. When we look in the mirror, we see the ashes of our shame – shame that isn’t ours to bear – when all the time we are royalty underneath. It is so hard to believe that we are anything other than dirty because that is what is reflected back to us in the mirror – a mirror tainted by our abusers’ lies. No matter how many times other people tell us that we did nothing wrong, our reflection in the mirror keeps us from believing it.

But we are royalty underneath. We are innocent. Nothing that anyone ever did to us changes who we are underneath, no matter how many ashes are heaped upon us. God sees who we are underneath the ashes, and He has the power to show us our pure and clean reflections in His mirror of truth. That reflection is waiting for each and every one of us, but we have to have the courage to look. And once you see yourself the way God sees you, it’s easier to love yourself. It’s even easier to like yourself. Because you are not the ashes that your abusers heaped upon you. You are the untainted royalty that lies beneath.

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Lonely Girl (c) Lynda Bernhardt

I received a very nice card from my mother last week. Ironically, it arrived during the week that I was writing about mother-daughter sexual abuse. I have not heard from her in a couple of months. Now, out of the blue, she sends me this very thoughtful card. She also said that she is sending my Christmas present up with my sister when she comes to visit next week. I was not expecting anything from her for Christmas.

I have a couple of friends who are farther along their healing journeys than I am. Both of them have reached a place where they feel love for their parent-abusers. They have let go of the bitterness, and they have moved past the indifference. Now, they feel pity for their parent-abusers and want to help them to heal from their pain.

I wonder if I will ever get there and if there is even a need for me to get to that place. In so many ways, my life is easier when I view my mother as “dead” to me. I go on about my life, and she goes on about hers. I do not feel guilty about this.

I know that my mother will never meet my emotional needs. For me to reconnect with her would be solely for her benefit. I do not see any way in which it would be beneficial to me.

My mother told my sister that she plans to call me in the next week to wish me well. I am not sure how I feel about that. I told her four years ago not to call or visit me, and I never changed that rule. Now I have the stress of checking the Caller ID every time the phone rings. I don’t know of a way to tell her not to do this without calling her, which misses the point.

I really don’t know how I feel about all of this.

Related Topic:

Mother-Daughter Sexual Abuse

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Plant (c) Lynda Bernhardt

I entered into therapy to heal from the mother-daughter sexual abuse four years ago. It took me a couple of years of intensive focus on my healing to make peace with my past as it relates to my mother. I found that I had to forgive my mother (which I define as letting go of the bitterness) in layers because the damage she inflicted upon me ran so deep. First, I focused on healing the pain from her direct abuses. Later, I focused on healing from her role in the abuses that I suffered at the hands of others. She was the common denominator to almost all of the abuses I suffered because she is the person who gave the others access to me. It has taken me a long time to work through the pain and anger and then let go of the bitterness.

I chose to end personal contact with my mother. I allow her to write me a monthly letter, and then I respond when I feel able. I also continue to send her presents for her birthday, Christmas, and Mother’s Day. Acknowledging her on Mother’s Day is very hard for me, so I generally have the present come from my son instead of from me. I do this as a kindness to her to spare her the embarrassment of having to tell others why we are estranged. I know she does not deserve it, but this is a way that I stay true to myself.

Despite the fact that I am going above and beyond what she deserves, she has now chosen to stop writing to me. She is tired of asking for a reconciliation (which will never happen as long as my son is young enough to be vulnerable to being abused by her), so I guess she has decided that I am not worth pursuing a relationship with. I am sure she has painted herself as the victim in her own head. As much as it bothers me to admit it, that hurt me. Even now, after years of healing and after all she has done, it still hurts to know that my mother does not think I am worth pursing a relationship with.

I rarely talk about my mother, which I am sure is odd to most of my friends who do not know about my history. (Some of them might be learning about my history by reading my blog this week.) I ache when my friends talk about their good relationships with their mothers. I do not long for my mother, but I still have a place inside that craves a mother’s love. I have accepted that this need will never be met, but it still aches sometimes when I am reminded about what I am missing.

I have managed this unmet need by turning to my spirituality. Through meditation, I have found that I can tap into an unending Source of love that is available to me at all times and is safe for me to receive.

I have worked hard to push through my difficulties in trusting others. I have learned that the key is in trusting myself. I have also worked hard to accept physical touch from others. Because I never knew whether my mother’s reaching hand held nurture or abuse, I have always tensed up at receiving hugs from others for most of my life. I am slowly learning to accept loving touch from others. I can even accept a hug without tensing up if I sense one is coming first.

The good news is that, despite the residue, the gaping wounds have healed. I can talk about the abuse now without feeling shame or self-loathing. This post is a huge step for me.

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Winding Plant (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Dealing with your mother in adulthood after mother-daughter sexual abuse is understandably complicated. There is the issue of whether to confront your mother or maintain contact with her. If you cut off contact, you are bombarded with criticism from people who believe that a mother could not possibly have done something so bad to deserve being cut out of your life. You also face how to keep your children safe so that the abuse does not affect another generation. Many people are not supportive of depriving a grandmother of contact with her grandchildren.

Every person has an innate need for a mother. Survivors of mother-daughter sexual abuse are no exception. After experiencing this form of abuse, the survivor is left with not only many issues to heal but also a lifetime of unmet needs. The need to bond with your mother does not just go away with the passage of time. The unfulfilled need leaves a void that survivors try to fill in other ways.

Many survivors of this form of abuse turn to negative coping tools, such as self-injury, to cope with the pain. The most drastic forms of self-injury I have heard about were self-inflicted by survivors of mother-daughter sexual abuse. I know one woman who routinely broke her own bones to manage her emotional pain. Because the pain from mother-daughter sexual abuse runs so deep, it makes sense that the coping mechanisms used to manage it would be more extreme as well.

Some survivors of mother-daughter sexual abuse stay dependent upon their mothers into adulthood. While they hate their mothers and want to get away from them, they also do not know how to survive in the world on their own. Their mothers have emotionally crippled them, and it takes a great deal of courage to break away.

Despite these challenges, it is possible to heal the pain from mother-daughter sexual abuse. It takes a lot of time and hard work, but it can be done. Your past does not have to define your future.

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Dark Skies (c) Lynda Bernhardt

All child abuse is bad. All child abuse, even just one time, breaks a child’s trust and causes issues from which the child must heal. That being said, there are healing challenges specific to mother-daughter sexual abuse that are not generally present when healing from other forms of child abuse.

Looking Like Your Abuser

A big issue for many survivors of mother-daughter sexual abuse is that daughters often physically resemble their mothers. As the abuse survivor ages, she sees her abuser looking back at her in the mirror. This phenomenon can fuel the abuse survivor’s self-loathing.

If this is an issue for you, do what you can to make changes to your physical appearance that detract from the similarities. For example, dye your hair a different color, or have it cut into a style that is very different from your mother’s hair.

Inability to Trust

While all abuse survivors struggle with issues surrounding trust, survivors of mother-daughter sexual abuse often struggle with trust issues to the nth degree. This is because the very first person with whom the child ever bonded betrayed the child.

A baby bonds with her mother while she is still in the womb. She finds comfort in her mother’s voice, and she looks to her mother to protect her after she is born. When the very first person she ever trusted shatters her trust, it is very hard to risk ever trusting another person again.

Sexual Identity Issues

Many women who were sexually abused by their mothers struggle with their sexual identity. Some are lesbians who question how much the sexual abuse factored into their sexual identity. Others struggle with gender identification, feeling more like a man than a woman. While many survivors of this form of abuse do not face these issues, a sizeable number does.

Fear of Being Believed or Supported

Because few people talk about mother-daughter sexual abuse, it is very hard for survivors of this form of abuse to talk about it with another person. It is hard for me to write about this topic on this blog, even though I have healed from the abuse. While all child abuse comes with shame, there is something even more “shameful” about suffering from this form of abuse, even when you know objectively that you were not responsible. Also, in a society that views mothers as above reproach, survivors fear being rejected for talking about their experiences.

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