Archive for January 13th, 2009

My Sunday School class got into an interesting discussion about encouragement. The leader asked for examples of times when another person encouraged you or when you offered encouragement to another person. The leader then pointed to my blog as an example of offering encouragement to others. (I do not believe that he has ever read my blog, but I do talk about it in class from time to time.)

One person asked how you choose who to encourage you. I said, “The one who has done it.”

That is what I see this blog as – my gift to all of you who are newer to the process of healing from child abuse. Because you know that I have healed to the degree that I have, you have the hope of healing to this degree as well because you see that it is possible to do.

Over at isurvive, my favorite message board for child abuse survivors, only a handful of people who are farther along the healing process continue to stay active on the board. Most of the people who come to isurvive (me included) seek it out because they are in deep pain. They are looking for reassurance that they can survive the healing process, and they are looking for guidance on how to do it.

As people heal from the abuse and move on with their lives, they no longer have the need to frequent a message board for abuse survivors. Occasionally, an “old timer” will pop in and share his or her story about life after healing, and those posts are amazingly encouraging.

Lori, the board owner, encourages the “old timers” to continue to visit as they can because it is so encouraging for “newbies” to see that healing really is possible. When some of my friends from 2004 come back, I tear up in awe as I see the strong person that my friend has become.

One of my friends really hated her mother/abuser (for very good reason) and returned to say that she had forgiven her mother and had built a new relationship with her. Because I was along for the ride when she was healing, I understood better than most just how profoundly this woman had changed. While my choices with my own mother/abuser are differently, I deeply respect the place of healing that my friend has reached.

In my Sunday School class, we also talked about the importance of honesty when encouraging another person. I never want to misrepresent what healing is like. I don’t want to pretend that I will ever be a “normal” person, as defined by acting and reacting as a person who was never abused.

Instead, I try to offer a realistic picture of what healing is like. It is hard work but totally worth it. If I could go back to the time before I had the memories in my head, I wouldn’t. I like the person that I have become, and I like the difference that I have made in other people’s lives by choosing to heal. I hope that all of you will one day be able to say the same thing.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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