Saturday, March 15, 2014

A few words about healing.....

The healing process from childhood sexual abuse can be long and arduous.  In fact I tell my clients they will have to walk through the fire to get to the other side.  This, of course, is terrifying.  "But remember, " I tell them, "you experienced this stuff first when you were smaller and much more vulnerable.  You can certainly survive remembering it".  That isn't to say I think all abuse survivors need to recover their memories.  For most, the memories simply need to be taken out of the box they've been stored in for so long and experienced, or felt about, mourned, raged for, etc.

One thing that concerns me is that abuse survivors might take from the press, or from the many documentaries about child abuse, that recovery is illusive at best, and rarely achieved.  I wouldn't do the work I do if that were true.  Recovery, or "healing" can certainly happen.  And this is what it looks like:  It is when the abuse becomes part of the fabric of a person's history.  It no longer has the fire or the urgency it had when you were trying to suppress it, or minimize it's effects.  It no longer has the power to bring you to your knees weeping as it did during the intense "working through" phase of therapy.  Just like the scar that won't tan, or the arthritis in a long ago broken bone, it will be there, leaving you with some left over reminders, but you will be whole in spite of it.  I often think of my recovered self as being three dimensional, where I formerly was two dimensional.  Yes, I still get anxious at certain times of the year, and prefer to sit with my back to the wall in a restaurant, but I can live with these residual reminders.  The more serious effects of the abuse have resided.  I've watched others move on too.  They are taking the time to enjoy life, or are marveling at their new found emotional repertoires (when they used to experience only one or two emotions).

So my message to survivors beginning the healing journey is to take the documentaries and news stories for what they are.  They are promoting a message that doesn't present the whole picture.  And "whole" can be pretty good.