On my blog entry entitled Why I Relate So Strongly to Nina in “Black Swan”, a reader posted the following comment:
I know it is different for everyone and the process is not linear, but when attaching feelings to events, you mentioned releasing your emotions, how long did it take for you to feel not crazy and to not be safe with yourself? Did it come up and sink down so sometimes it wasn’t so prevalent in your thinking? ~aggiemonday
Like Aggiemonday, I wanted a time line from my therapist. I lost count of how many times I asked, “How long…?” His answer was always that he did not have a crystal ball, which drove me crazy. Couldn’t he just give me an average based on his experience in working with other child abuse survivors?
Healing from child abuse is a very individual process. There are generalities, such as learning to love and accept yourself, that apply pretty much across the board, but the time frame for this is going to vary from person to person. The time frame is even going to vary for the same person depending upon the speed that the person can handle in this moment. The best advice I saw on the topic of pacing was from Isurvive when a member said only go as fast as the slowest part of yourself is ready to go. Of course, I was never very good at actually taking that advice.
I have found that the upward spiral (which I believe is mentioned in The Courage to Heal) is the best symbol for how my healing process feels. I often feel like I am going around in circles. I think that I have mastered one element of healing, and then I find myself fighting down the same demons a few months or years later. The upward spiral shows you that you are always healing and moving toward a healthier you, so you are not truly going in circles but, instead, spiraling upward.
The only way I can tell you to “speed things up” is to stop fighting the process. My therapist pointed out that the more energy I put into fighting my feelings and emotions, the more powerful they became. When I chose to stop fighting them and, instead, give them a voice, they lost their power over me. The more frequently I choose to accept myself, which includes my memories, feelings, and emotions, the faster I seem to spiral back out of the bad place.
That being said, embracing it all too quickly creates its own challenges. Some readers have been impressed by the speed of my healing, and even my therapist marveled that I completed two years of therapy in a period of six months. This was because my attitude was that if I had to feel like s@#$, then I was going to give it my all and get this process over with as soon as possible. My therapist would tell me to try to enjoy the process, but I told him that he was out of his mind to think that I would enjoy any of this.
Trying to heal too quickly feels like riding on a runaway freight train. My therapist kept telling me to slow down, but in the early months of therapy, I simply didn’t have the power to do it. After that first intense six months, I settled into a more manageable pace of healing for me. Keep in mind that with each accepted memory comes emotions and feelings that need to be processed. Rather than race through the process, it is sometimes to your benefit to give yourself time to breathe between each period of healing.
The more you accept every part of yourself – your memories, emotions, and feelings – as “me,” the sooner you will stop feeling so “crazy.” The more you accept yourself, the more you will feel “safe” with yourself.
Photo credit: Hekatekris
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