Always a Voice
Empowering Survivors of Abuse & Trauma
Part III- The Art of Active Healing: Purpose
|Posted on 16 August, 2017 at 14:55|
During the month of August, we are focusing on learning how to tap into the truth we already have inside us and go all out in what I call a “full-thrive”. We will discuss what it means to walk in strength, peace, power and joy—during our healing process and within the boiling pot of imperfection and pain.
We’ve spent the last two weeks discussing the art of active healing. We touched on Denial and how this normal reaction serves to protect our bodies from damage—allowing us time to safely process. We then moved on to focus on Persepective, keeping in mind that so much of our wellbeing comes from how we feel or think about a circumstance or situation. Both of these—Denial and Perspective—provide physical aspects to our healing.
Just as other bodily symptoms/reactions are present with any illness or condition, in the same way our bodies answer our Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) with symptoms, reactions and responses. We can google “Diabetes” and read how to actively take charge of the management and treatment of this disease. We can readily learn how diet and exercise can prevent Type 2 diabetes from progressing and developing into Type 1—or worse. Through research, we now know that applying a holistic approach to managing diseases/illnesses can help create a much more successful outcome.
In our culture, we really aren’t taught to take an active role in the care of our mental, spiritual and emotional health. We are taught from childhood to supress and hide our adverse experiences—and the normal symptoms associated with our trauma—as if exhibiting our trauma somehow translates out to some innate weakness in our lives!!
Oftentimes we find ourselves years down the road of life before we finally come to the realization that we acutally matter. That our feelings matter. That our physical wellbeing is connected to our emotional health—or lack thereof! And this is the time to decide how we are going to move forward into an active partnership—bridging our physical self and our emotional/mental/spiritual self!
It is during this season of awakening—the season of shedding the skin of our Denial—that we often experience our greatest onset of symptoms and “issues”. With proper perspective, we can make a choice to view this season in our lives as productive and necessary. We are literally taking back the ground that was taken from us—and it is time!
Accepting—realizing—that our symptoms (and reactions) have been normal responses to our trauma is the most important healing step we may have ever taken! This realization may be accompanied by a feeling of liberation and freedom—or you may find yourself incredibly emotional and sad. Sad for all that has been lost.
It is imperative that we grasp the idea of “rehab” and what that means/looks like. Let's imagine this scenario: an Olympian runner loses both his legs and is not expected to walk again, let alone run. But more than anything he wants to run again, so he decides to go for it with all his heart. He puts the huge, nearly impenetrable goal of competing again in the forefront of his mind, and now he eats, sleeps and breathes his goals—his purpose. He begins to measure everything he eats. He writes out his goals. He hires a specialized trainer. He puts pictures of runners all over his house--on his fridge, above his toilet, in his car. He sits in bed at night and reads running magazines. He lifts weights. But more importantly he plans and anticipates his SUCCESS.
Successful rehab and treatment is always accompanied by hard work and "pre-commitment". We must choose to surround ourselves with strength and wholeness—to hunker down and do whatever is necessary to be well and happy. The first step in that direction is giving yourself permission to be happy. Especially for survivors of child sexual abuse, it's easy to believe we are not worthy to be truly happy. Guilt holds us back. Our memories chain us to the wall of indecisiveness. Growth seems to elude us, mostly because of our fear of change, our fear of responsibility and our fear of success. And strangely, sometimes it's just more comfortable to stay anchored to our excuses, fear and/or indecision.
During my awakening stage, I found it very helpful to write in a journal. I bought a new notebook that was small enough to easily carry with me in my purse. I actively wrote out my thoughts, plans and goals, lists of changes I wanted to make, verses, quotes and poems, letters to God (sometimes angry, sometimes full of hope and faith) and my exercise and diet goals. This is a practice I continue to embrace to this day.
On a practical level, here are a few “on purpose” steps you can take to help achieve mental balance and happiness:
• Join a positive support group
• Seek a therapist you feel comfortable with
• Remove negative friends/family members from your sphere of influence • Go through your list of TV shows—break free from any that are trashy or negative.
• Make a list of movies/books that bring back the happy “child” in you. Go on a quest to watch/read each one you can get your hands on!
• Begin an exercise regimen—including time for quiet walks and peaceful deep breathing!
• Commit to healthy eating—and throw in some great ambience whenever possible! Candles, a gorgeous view…and every now and then, enjoy a perfect dessert with someone you love!
• With the help of your doctor, decide to take active inventory—and active control—of your medications.
• Take steps to gain control over any addictions or dependencies you may have acquired. You deserve to be whole and well.
• Get up earlier—or go to bed earlier.
• Reclaim your faith!
• Hug your loved ones!
• Give forgiveness a chance. At this point, you are only hurting yourself by allowing “them” to retain their hold on you. You deserve happiness—and they don’t have any right to control you! Not anymore, and not ever again!
• Rejoice in your freedom!
• Look yourself in the eye—in the mirror—and be proud of who you are. Promise yourself that you will begin to care more deeply for your health. Make a choice to celebrate the things about yourself that you can’t change.
• Remove negative talk from your vocabulary. Speak the words you would say to your own child. Words of hope. Words of empowerment and confidence that they can "be whoever they want to be" or "achieve whatever they put their mind to".
• Reach out to others! Find a community outreach program or activity that interests you and get involved. You have no idea how much of a blessing you could be to someone else! Your past experiences will be a huge source of blessing and encouragement to those you meet!
Viewing your healing as purposeful rehab can be very empowering. And that is exactly what this is. REHAB. You can’t go back and undo what happened to you. There is no magic to completely erase the painful memories or the fall-out of your abuse. So viewing your healing as rehab—learning to successfully readjust your life and re-route your thought processes—is crucial to your wellness.
Living on purpose starts from the inside and flows outward. The most important “next step” you can ever take is that of shifting your heart toward the idea of Purpose—and this begins from the realization that you are still here for a reason—and that you matter.