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Archive for September 29th, 2010

On my About Faith Allen page, a reader posted the following comment:

How do you work through memories? I have a very difficult time working through or blogging about things I remember. It is an extremely painstaking process. And my mind will not even bring up blocked memories. In fact, I got so good at forgetting, I continue to do it at age 42, even a lot of good present stuff. When I blog a memory, there is sits. And here I hurt so much. Then what? What should come next? So I talked about it. Is that all? Should it get better from there? ~ Heavenly Places

Working through memories of child abuse is painstaking work and takes a lot of time and energy. You are not going to feel better magically overnight – it is a healing process that is kind of like healing a very deep wound. You might not see any evidence of healing taking place on the surface at first, but healing is happening at the deepest levels, and the wound is gradually healing even when you cannot tell that it is.

Remembering the trauma is only the first step. You need to find a way to accept that experience as “mine,” and you need to process all of the emotions that came with that traumatizing event – the anger, the terror, the shame, etc. Frequently, child abuse survivors experience these pieces separately, but you need to connect them back together so that, for example, your anger is directed toward the abuser for what he did to you.

I strongly recommend that you work through the Survivor to Thriver manual, which does an excellent job of walking you through the healing process of any form of child abuse (including sexual, physical, and emotional abuse). There is a natural process in healing emotionally, just as there is a natural process of healing physically. This book does a wonderful job of explaining what to expect as you move through your emotional healing.

As you process the memories that you do remember, you will free yourself up to deal with the more traumatizing memories that you might not yet remember at a conscious level. This is your mind’s way of protecting you from having to face too many painful memories at one time. You will remember more as you are ready.

Finding a good therapist is also a very important part of healing. Think of your therapist as a healing process “tutor” who can guide you through healing exercises that are specific to you. Your therapist can answer your questions as you go and help you learn how to express your emotions about what you have been through.

The specifics of the healing process are not the same for everyone, but the big picture is – You heal by learning how to love and express yourself, which includes accepting everything that you have been through as part of what has shaped you into the person you are today. Believe it or not, as you learn to love and accept yourself, the memories of the abuse lose their “punch” and simply become a part of your history. This frees you up to choose to live your life in whatever manner you want, freed from the guilt and shame of your past.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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