I just got home from a beautiful retreat on trauma and compassion in Nashville, TN. It was very well organized by the hosts and a very diverse group of people attended. We heard from researchers in the field of trauma and compassion and then spent 2 days immersed in learning about and experiencing compassion through meditation, sharing, and journaling.
I came away from this experience feeling very moved. I even found myself in tears more than once on the plane ride home as I reflected on the experience, the learning, and the deep authentic sharing that I experienced in the room, both from the presenters and participants. Nothing makes my heart sing like hearing people speaking courageously from their hearts.
What struck me over and over again, during the many breathing and meditation exercises, was how profound the human experience is in feeling and expressing pain and sadness, even joy and beauty, and what I kept hearing and seeing throughout the weekend was the hope,...
So much of the healing journey feels like a break down rather than break through. We hope for things to feel better but often, things just feel worse.
Stepping up to heal your life is an uncertain path at first because what we really want is something or someone to tell us exactly what to do, what to expect, and how to make it through. We want to know what the steps are and exactly what we can expect going through them.
Unfortunately, since survivors are all so different and our experiences are so varied, no one can give you that certainty of exactly how your healing journey is going to unfold. All anyone can tell you is what you can expect and what to do when things get hard.
However, there are certain things, universal things, that all survivors need and that will make it easier to heal:
1. A safe place to tell their story
2. To be believed and validated
3. To be educated about the impact of abuse
4. To be educated about the steps of healing
5. To be encouraged with hope
6. To be...
The trauma from child abuse disconnects us from the truth we feel in our hearts. The healing journey is about finding your way back to your truth. Being able to feel again is how you do that. It's one of the incredible blessings of the healing journey.
We spend a lot of time learning how to safely feel and release our negative emotions like fear, shame, pain, and loneliness. But there comes a time when we need to learn how to feel positive emotions, too. Why? Because these emotions are our truth.
What is your truth? It’s the same as mine:
Slowly work your way down this list and practice “feeling” each of these truths. Allow them to saturate your heart, soul, body, and spirit until they become a part of you.
Actually, these truths have always been a part of you. The trauma of child abuse simply disconnected you from them. When I began to feel these...
As child abuse survivors, we work really hard to do the best we can with our children. We want them to have what we didn’t. So we try to create a healthy, nourishing environment to help our kids grow and thrive in the best way possible.
But after working all day, sometimes there isn’t much left of us for our children. That used to bother me a lot. I felt like I wasn’t giving my kids 100% of what they needed from me.
Finally, I realized I was trying to give them what “I” felt they needed, not what “they” feel they needed. They didn’t need a mother who ran herself ragged every day, trying to be a supermom. All they wanted was what I needed when I was a child: to be seen, heard, understood, and validated.
How do you make this happen for your children?
You simply do less and listen more. In fact, the less you say the better. Instead, listen intently to whatever your kids want to tell you. Ask questions when appropriate and make...
As you can tell from my blog post topics this summer, I’m on a mission to help you dig deep enough to uncover hidden toxic coping skills and patterns. These are what fuel your triggers and create major stumbling blocks on your healing journey.
Thanks so much for all your emails and comments about this series of blog posts. I’m thrilled to hear I’m giving you the kind of information you want and need!
Today, I’d like to tackle the frustrating issue of “resistance.” Why do we resist healthy change? Why does resistance rear its stubborn head every time we decide to do something good for ourselves? It makes no sense!
Or does it?
Actually, it makes perfect sense. Every scary door you open on your healing journey contains an important message. Resistance is no exception.
The purpose of resistance is to protect you. Once again, this is a biological brain issue. Your brain keeps you safe. That’s one of its many skills. However, change involves...
My heart sings with happiness every day. Why? Because I focus on the things that make me happy and give me joy. I do this on purpose. It’s an intentional action. Not something that just happens.
To be honest, feeling joyful isn’t easy for me. I’m not one of those naturally happy people, who leaps out of bed every morning with a smile on her face. For too many years, I was bound by shame and couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be happy or joyful. I didn’t feel worthy of happiness.
Back then, I wanted everyone else to make me happy. However, that’s not how happiness works, so I was always disappointed. I expected things to go wrong, to be betrayed, abandoned, and ignored. It took a long time to get to the happy, joyous place I’m at right now.
How did I do it? Through the simple practice of self-care and self-love.
The secret to happiness is to do at least one simple thing every day that makes you happy and gives you joy. It can be...
Becoming a loving, caring, nurturing parent to your inner child can be scary at first. This child remembers every minute of the child abuse you survived, even if you’ve blocked out the worst of it. Ouch!
But don’t worry. Your inner child isn’t going to unleash all those horrible memories on you. Instead, it will only be the parts of you that need healing, the parts you have rejected or ignored.
Yes, your inner child is angry. That’s scary, too. Mine was furious. She wasn’t as upset about the abuse from the past as she was the fact that I had rejected her for decades. I kept giving her to other people to love. She didn’t want their love. She wanted mine.
The wonderful thing about making the commitment to do inner child work is you discover just how loving you can be as an adult. In my case, I discovered I was capable of creating safety for this little girl. I could make her a top priority in my life. I could protect her. I could even help her...
When I began my healing journey, I didn’t know if I could heal. But I was hopeful.
Back then, there were plenty of people who could tell me what was wrong with me and why. They could diagnose me with depression. They could tell me the depression was caused by the trauma I had suffered as an abused child. But few could give me what I needed most at that time: someone who believed I could heal.
And that’s my message for you today. If there’s one belief you need to cultivate after child abuse or trauma, it’s the belief that you can heal.
How do you do it? The same way I did!
I searched until I found survivors who inspired me. These people were able to show me what it looked like to heal after child abuse and trauma. They showed me how to move from barely surviving to gloriously thriving. Their lives had become their healing testimony.
From these courageous survivors, I learned healing from child abuse and trauma is a lifelong process. Even though I’m...
Every time you make a decision to change a toxic behavior pattern, your wounded inner child will appear. It’s what makes healthy change hard for us.
And that’s why inner child work is so important. You can’t recover from child abuse and trauma without doing this deep, messy work.
Your wounded inner child is that very young part of yourself, who was hurt by the abuse and is still in pain. In my case, it was my 6-year old self. She was angry for never being seen, heard, or valued. She believed the only way she could ever be worthy was by overachieving and taking care of everyone else’s needs, while ignoring hers.
Because I could feel her anger, resentment, and pain, I was terrified of her. So I rejected her for decades. Of course, that just added to her painful burden.
Inner child work is the practice of building a loving relationship with your abused inner child and becoming the loving parent that child never had. Easier said than done, right? I mean, how do...