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This series is focusing on the issue of struggling with focusing on your own needs. The series begins here.

Here is the next part of the reader’s email:

I think it’s probably a very important part of healing to “tell your story” but does it become selfish to spend so much time and emotion on yourself? Wait that doesn’t sound right. There’s a part of me that wants certain other people to know what happened to me but then I struggle with thinking that all I want is some misguided attention.

Yes, telling your story is crucial to healing. You were silenced as a child, so you need to have a voice in adulthood. For me, it was crucial that I post each flashback over at Isurvive, which was my way of “shouting from the rooftops” that the abuse happened as I told the details publicly. People in Australia could read what had happened to me – that was empowering to me. I also needed the validation of being believed because, for the first several months, I had a very hard time believing myself.

The “normal” state of being should be for every person to spend some time and emotion on him- or herself. Everyone needs some downtime to enjoy being alive. Life is not just about getting things done – we need to “stop and smell the roses.” Not only do child abuse survivors have a hard time stopping to smell the roses – they have trouble believing that it is okay even to notice the roses. Life needs to be about balance. There is a time to “do,” but there is also a time to “be.”

If you had cancer, wouldn’t you undergo chemo treatments? Consider therapy and the time invested as the chemo of your soul. Your soul is filled with emotional “cancer” from the abuse. Don’t you deserve to heal your soul just as much as a cancer patient deserves to heal her body?

What you wrote about the fear of “misguided attention” resonated deeply with me because I have been there. For the first time, I allowed myself to go to the deepest depths of the pain and sob. There isn’t a word in the English language for the wracking sobs that came out of my body. I was making sounds that did not even sound human, and I experienced emotional pain that I did not believe was even survivable.

In the midst of this, a thought came in my head (from an alter part) that I was just doing this for attention. I looked around my completely empty house and yelled out, “From whom!?!! Nobody is here!!” This was such a breakthrough moment for me. For the first time, I braved facing the pain, and I recognized that I was not trying to get anyone’s attention – I was just trying to heal.

It is okay to have needs. It is okay to invite others into your pain (when you are ready). It is okay to invest the time and money in therapy to help you learn how to heal. It is also okay for life to sometimes be about you.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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