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Posts Tagged ‘helping others heal’

Over the weekend, I saw Matt Damon’s new movie Hereafter. I was not overly impressed by the movie in large part due to the V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W pacing, but that is irrelevant to the point of today’s blog entry.

Matt Damon’s character, George, had the ability to connect with anyone’s loved ones who had died by touching the person’s hands. So, if George touched my hands, he might be able to serve as a conduit for communication between me and my deceased father or grandfather. George’s brother said this was a “gift” that George had a responsibility of sharing with the world. George saw this ability as a “curse” that prevented him from having a normal life.

This got me thinking about whether those of us who have healed from child abuse (or are further along our healing journeys) have a responsibility to interact with other child abuse survivors and help them along their own healing journeys. In my case, I have been blessed with the gift of being able to express myself well in writing (and I do see this as a gift without a downside). Because I have this gift and have made a lot of progress in healing from child abuse, does that give me the responsibility of using this gift to help other survivors of child abuse?

My answer to that question is no. I do not write this blog because I feel a responsibility or sense of duty to my readers to write it. I could shut down this blog tomorrow and feel no guilt whatsoever about shunning my responsibility to fellow child abuse survivors. As my therapist told me repeatedly, I get to choose the course of the rest of my life. I can choose to spend it helping others or pursuing my own dreams that have nothing whatsoever to do with my past, and either path is okay.

So, why do I write this blog? Because I care. I have been blessed with the ability to express myself well in writing, and I have the experience of surviving the early stages of healing from child abuse. I have combined the two to write this blog as a gift to fellow child abuse survivors simply because I care. Does that make a person who chooses not to do the same thing an “uncaring” person? Absolutely not. That person might have other gifts to give the world that have nothing to do with his or her history of child abuse.

Writing about and thinking about healing from child abuse on a daily basis is not always easy. Nobody who has healed from child abuse should ever feel compelled to stay in this painful world of healing, and I actually recommend against it unless and until you develop the ability to empathize without being sucked into the desperation of someone else’s struggles. Readers frequently send me emails telling me about the gory details of their pain, and all of you have seen the comments that are posted on this blog. I have developed the ability to provide hope without falling back down into the pit when reading the stories. Not everyone has this ability, and nobody should be judged for not wanting to go back into that pit after finding the way out.

For those of you who feel a responsibility to write your own blog after you are farther along in healing, please don’t feel compelled to do so. If you want to do it, write your blog as a gift, not out of a sense of duty.

Photo credit: Faith Allen

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One of the biggest joys in my life is helping others along their healing journey. That is why I write this blog. I don’t get paid for it. I only registered as an Amazon affiliate so that this blog can raise money to help fund Isurvive, my favorite charity for child abuse survivors. The checks go directly to the charity.

This blog is a labor of love, because I hear frequently that the lessons I have learned through my fierce healing battles are helping others along their own healing journeys. I see others find healing in my deepest wounds, and it brings value from what otherwise would have been meaningless. I will never be grateful that I was abused, but I will be forever grateful that I am helping others to heal.

What frustrates me is how I am unable to help some of the people I care about most to heal. I am helping people on other continents along their own healing journeys, but I must stand back helplessly and watch others in my day-to-day life struggle without being able the help them. The difference is that those of you who are reading my blog are in a place where you are ready to face your demons and heal. Some of the people I care about in my off-line, day-to-day life are not there.

I have one friend who is struggling with anorexia, but I cannot do anything about it. She is not ready to hear me. If I say anything, she will only push me away and further isolate herself, which will only make matters worse.

So, I watch in silence as she wastes away and pray that she will talk to me one day. I have told her about my own personal h@#$ of battling an eating disorder, so she knows (or should know) that I get it. However, my version was the other extreme (binge eating), so maybe she won’t know. I see her speeding toward a brick wall, and I am powerless to stop her.

Then I have another friend who was recently diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It was news to her that this was an anxiety disorder, and she had it all backward. She has agreed to take medication so she can alleviate the symptoms, which she believes are causing her anxiety. I told her that her symptoms are how she is managing the anxiety, but she did not want to hear this.

She also did not want to hear that, if she would focus on expressing her repressed anger, she would see a big reduction in her OCD symptoms. I was not advising this in place of the medication but in addition to it. She is not ready to face that she has any anger to deal with. She says that she has forgiven her abuser and even continues a relationship with the abuser. In my experience, forgiveness cannot occur until after you give your anger a voice. She never has.

I cannot make another person heal. It is just so hard to see someone I love going the wrong way and be powerless to stop it. I guess I need to focus on who I have helped rather than who I cannot.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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