Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Healing From Incest Vs. Being Stuck In The Past

To often a person who is not a survivor of child sexual abuse looks at a struggling survivor and thinks she/he is stuck in the past. They may even voice their judgments to the survivor and tell them to just get over it or just let it be, it is in the past. Unknown to the person looking on, there is a difference between being a victim still stuck in the past with no apparent way to get out of the pain and a survivor who is revisiting the past in order to heal and work their way through the feelings of the past. In order to heal, especially if you were like me and still in denial that the past was affecting me, you do have to visit the past, look at it really hard and bring awareness that you still hurt because of the past. You still grieve because of the past. All childhood abuse can still hurt badly when you are an adult until you are ready to face it and work through it. Talking about your issues from the past in order to heal from it can look, to an outsider, like you are stuck in the past, especially when you break the silence of abuse and the words flow out of you like water from a broken dam. I had held in the words of abuse from at least age three until I was 38. That is 35 years of words and feelings that had to get out in order to heal.

Some things can be healed fast and you no longer need to talk about them. Incest isn't one of those things that heals fast. The only time I was stuck in the past was when I was still denying it was hurting me. As long as a survivor is taking steps forward, they are healing. It is only when we stand still and refuse to move forward, when we refuse to heal and feel, that we become victims again. Some people do wallow in the attention that they get and refuse to move forward. They could be said to be stuck in the past.

Most survivors are working hard to move forward. Please don't label a survivor as stuck in the past just because you hear them talking over and over again about their abuse. Stop and listen and see if they are moving forward or standing still. Do they just want sympathy or do they want your support and maybe some validation because they are learning to validate themselves. Do they need your love while they are learning to love themselves. I talked for 10 years in 12-Step meetings and I was also writing and looking inward and learning to feel the hurt so that I could release it. Don't judge a person as stuck when you haven't been through their hurt and you haven't walked down their path with them. You have no idea what it feels like to be a survivor of incest unless you too are an incest survivor.

Now I want to talk to the survivors who are reading this article. When you get really really tired of going through the pain of healing, it is okay to take small breaks in your day and do something else that makes you feel good about being you. Do something that makes you laugh out loud. Listen to yourself. Doesn't that feel good. Ask someone for a hug. Talk to someone that you know will really listen and validate what you are feeling. That isn't everyone. Not everyone can be trusted with your vulnerability. Sharing your feelings is always good, as long as the person you share with is a safe person.

 See the hurting little girl or little boy inside of you and sit with them in your mind and ask them if they would like a hug. If it is the first time you have talked with your inner child, don't feel rejected if she/he says no. It takes time to win the trust of your inner child. If you are like I was, for so many years, you totally ignored her and her pain. You may have even blamed her for the pain. Keep trying and over time she/he will come and climb into you lap for a hug. Love yourself and your inner child through the hurt. Forgive yourself for blaming your inner child and ask for her/his forgiveness.

Sit down with the quiet inside of you and talk to God. Ask for his help and guidance. Ask for a sign that you are going the right way. Close your eyes and imagine God and your personal angels hugging you tight. Ask God for the strength that you need to get through the hard times. Don't forget to thank God for the good times when they come. None of us is really alone. You just have to remember to talk to God. He is always there.

Now that you are feeling better, get back to work. One day there won't be as much work to do. One day you will see that you are moving from survivor to thriver. I know if I can do it, so can you, my friend. I love you all. Now please love yourself as well.
Patricia

12 comments:

Susan Komisar Hausman said...

What a beautifully stated post, Patricia.I'm so glad to have read it. Your words are right on and I would encourage every survivor and his/her supporters to read it and really take in the meaning. Thank you for sharing so much of you and your journey so that ours might be more informed and, perhaps, a bit lighter. Have a wonderful day.

Patricia Singleton said...

Susan, Thank you, my friend. I am so glad that my words can help another survivor in their journey. I appreciate all that you do.

Jean Marie said...

I have never talked to my "little" as I have heard some people call their inner child. Somehow that would seem strange to me.. I have been in Therapy for four years now, I think I have remembered the worst of it.. But all this time I have never tried to connect with who I was as a child...

Oh! And! Excellent post!

Patricia McKnight said...

Absolutely fabulous my girl, love the beginning statements of the voices who hold it in for so long. Such a tragedy of internal trauma
take care and always in strength <3

Patricia Singleton said...

Trish, Thank you, my friend. I wrote down something that you said on one of your radio programs the other evening that I have never heard anyone say before that is really important. You said, "Abuse happens to you. Trauma happens within you." Still processing what that means. Thank you for your support and for all of the work that you do. <3

Lynn C. Tolson said...

Thanks Patricia, I appreciate how you are able to put this abstract concept into words and actions. Well said!

Patricia Singleton said...

Lynn, You are very welcome. As you can probably tell, I have put a lot of thought into this topic as I hear other survivors talk about the reactions from family and friends when they share their stories of abuse and healing.

Patricia Singleton said...

Jean Marie, Thank you for visiting and for your comment. I don't know why it took so long for me to see it here. I apologize for your waiting so long. Doing inner child work was part of the healing that I chose to do. Three books that really helped me do that work were Healing the Child Within and A Gift To Myself both written by Charles L. Whitfield, M. D. and Recovery of Your Inner Child: The highly acclaimed method for liberating your inner self written by Lucia Capacchione, Ph. D.

Mary Graziano said...

Thank you for this post Pat, right now I can sure use it, as I am struggling with some memories coming up that I am working through. You said this all so beautifully, and we do need to love ourselves, something else I need to work through. Telling myself that I love you is so hard for me. Wonderful post Pat, thank you so much. <3

Patricia Singleton said...

Mary, You are so welcome, my friend. Be kind and patient with yourself. ♥

Jean Marie said...

Thank you for the book list!

Patricia Singleton said...

Jean Marie, You are very welcome.