My blog entry entitled How Do You Let Yourself Feel the Depths of Your Pain? seems to have struck a chord with several readers, so I am going to talk more about that topic for the rest of the week.
On that blog entry, a reader posted the following comment:
The only thing I wished I could have heard more about was the actual therapy/healing process. I am in yet another layer of remembering and I have flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, panic… I am making progress but progress is often ugly before the beauty of healing. It is helping to hear how others acted/behaved/struggled/thought, while healing. ~ AJC
I am going to share what my healing process in this area was like. Please do not assume that yours must be or will be like mine because different child abuse survivors heal at different rates and in different ways. While the key to healing is loving and accepting each part of yourself as “me,” how each person gets to that place can vary widely.
I used the Survivor to Thriver manual as my “healing Bible.” I worked through each of the steps and explored the “self-help” and “professional” help tips. Step 14 is:
I am able to grieve my childhood and mourn the loss of those who failed me. ~ Survivor to Thriver manual
The manual advises that this step will take time, patience, and the need to be compassionate toward yourself. The manual includes these comforting words:
You can’t be rushed into healing these deepest wounds from childhood, and the healing won’t happen all at once. More likely you will heal the wounds in layers throughout your recovery, coming back to this step several times…You can get past [feeling stalled in your healing] by sharing the most vulnerable parts of yourself with others, thereby turning your fear of being hurt into the building of trust…You need caring, and you need to be able to accept it from others. ~ Survivor to Thriver manual
By the time I had reached Step 14, I had learned that the manual was reliable. It had guided me where I needed to go up until this point, so I believed in the advice about the need for mourning and the healing I would experience by finding the courage to do so. I believed I could allow myself to be vulnerable and open myself up to receive caring from others simply because the manual said so.
So much of healing from child abuse is learning how to build trust …both trust in yourself as well as trust in other people. In my case, I built trust in the authors of the Survivor to Thriver manual, my therapist, a close offline friend, and the Isurvive community. I finally gave my wounded little girl a voice. As each memory surfaced, I told my story. I would post it on Isurvive immediately as my way of shouting from the rooftops that it happened. The positive reinforcement from that community gave me the courage to tell my story face-to-face to my therapist and my friend. Their love and acceptance helped me to start to trust myself. I could believe my own truths and that I was worthy of receiving love because they loved me even after knowing these horrible truths about me. In fact, I have found that the people in my life who know my full story are the ones who love and accept me the most!
For me, working through the grieving and mourning goes hand-in-hand with talking about what happened. I could not heal each piece as long as it was my “dirty little secret.” I needed to tell someone else and experience their compassion so I could learn how to be compassionate to myself. Brick by brick, I dismantled my internal wall, which enable the pain to pour out.
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