Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Courage to Heal

Today I opened the book:  "The Courage to Heal:  A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse" by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis.     !!!!holy hannah intense is an understatement!!!!

I am not naive.  I knew it would be intense.  I knew there would be parts that were tough.  I barely got to the end of the Preface without an overwhelming feeling of panic and fear.  The effects that sexual abuse has had on me in my life....clearly screaming loud and clear.  I have put the book down and walked away on several occasions in the last several hours.  Unable to read any further.  Paralyzed with fear.  It isn't the fear of feeling unsafe, being abused, or feeling vulnerable.  The fear of speaking...breaking the silence...breaking the power that it has had over me.

Over the last several years I've remained in a world of denial, so to speak.  For nearly 35 years I've maintained silence.  If I don't speak about it.  It didn't happen, right?  Not so much.  I've protected myself.  I've been able to only let bits and pieces of this and that out in the open as I felt safe to do so.  I've been unable to figure out how or why there is such power in not speaking about the details.

The writing exercise at the end of the first chapter is geared towards the way it has affected me and still does.  What kinds of things do I still carry in the terms of my feelings of self worth, my relationships, sexuality, work, ect ect.  It also suggests writing about strengths I've developed because of the abuse. And a few other positives in my life.

As part of the writing method it suggests sharing what you write relatively soon after writing it with a friend, loved one, therapist, someone...ect ect.  I've wrote very openly here on this blog.  However, I'm not sure I'm able (or wanting) to expose myself in this manner here on this blog.  I'm struggling with what sort of balance.  Obviously, sharing these writings with my therapist would be helpful.  And I'm sure at some point will.  I also know that J* reads this blog from time to time.  It is helpful for both of us.  She is able to see me in a different view point...often uncensored, so to speak.    I wish this blog was on word press.  Being able to "password protect" certain posts is VERY VERY attractive to me. 

I could make this blog private.  However, I'm not sure that want to deal with that aspect.  I blog for ME and ME only.  However, as I've said before...if along the way someone...somewhere finds strength in what I've wrote, is able to know that they are not alone....then damn it was worth exposing myself.  I know how much comfort I've received from reading other posts of fellow bloggers.  Some whom I know very intimately.  Many whom all I know is their screen name or blogger name.  Whatever it might has been a life line that I am so thankful that I've had.

I've rambled....I know (you read here often you know that happens...OFTEN).

I will end with something that touched my heart today. Made me smile.  Made me think of my sweet ETAAM Soul Sisters....the intimate group of "tiara wearing mamma's" and how much I miss each of them!! 


GB's Mom said...

You are one courageous lady.

schnitzelbank said...

De-lurking again!
I just wanted to add my support. I, too, have needed to read this book. And I'm sorry. So, so sorry. You are truly brave to be walking down this path. I'm at the other end, cheering you on.

You know, the authors have a (new-ish) edition out, called "Beginning to Heal," which is sort of a primer to this book. A prelude. I think it's a good choice. Better than the "big" book. I wish that edition had existed when I worked through "Courage" years ago. You might want to check into this. It's the same authors, just a little more easy-going. It needs to be. They needed a primer edition. This work is THAT heavy.

Can I also suggest limiting your time with the material. Maybe an hour/week, and then put it away. Schedule in extra self-care time, just something fun that is taking care of YOU. It's also a big part of your healing. Your inner child lost a lot of her childhood. Part of that having fun again is taking care of her, too. She needs to have innocence and safety again. She needs to be able to play and laugh freely. Give her the opportunities now to have this.

Part of the un-silencing and un-shaming process of this, is learning that it doesn't have to be this monster freight train out of control. It's okay to look at it and put it away again. It's considered healthy management of huge trauma. Just because you're doing this difficult work, doesn't mean it has to be screaming in your head 24/7 now. Heal on your own terms.

So take this as permission to move slowly, it's okay to look at it and then close the book again (both figuretively and literally), and it's important to have good self-care, too.