Now that you've made the decision to heal and you have a trained professional to guide you thru the process, many people ask, "What next?". This is a great question. It's important to know what it will look like.
HEALING FROM WITHIN
Understanding That It Wasn't Your Fault Usually people convince themselves, especially children, that the abuse was their fault. "If I hadn't of been in the wrong place." Or "If I had screamed loud and ran away they would have stopped!" It's important to know that the blame needs to be placed on the shoulders of the abuser. There is NOTHING you could have done to cause this! It's important to work thru these thoughts with your Therapist. They can guide you thru this.
Making Contact With the Child Within Getting in touch with your child within that was wounded will help you feel more compassion for yourself. Understanding you were just a child and you now wouldn't expect a child to "figure something out" to get out of it, will help you move thru and feel more whole. It helps you get in touch with the anger you have towards the abuser, placing it where it belongs. This in turn will help you let down the walls of protection that you no longer need in your relationships, thus helping you develop greater intimacy with others.
Feeling the Anger! Get angry!!! It's in there, bottled up inside. It's usually just turned inward and now looks like Depression, Anxiety, or Marital Problems. With a Therapist, allow yourself to direct your anger at that person. Say what you would have said back then if you would have felt powerful. Directing your anger at the abuser and those that didn't protect you will help you let go of the anger at yourself and them. This will help you move into feeling the real feelings underneath- sadness.
Grieving and Mourning When you are abused, you are forced to shut everything down and not feel it. Therefore, the many losses that take place aren't properly grieved. This can cause depression, anxiety, and lead to addictions. It's important to acknowledge all the losses, feel the pain, and let it go.
Trusting Yourself As children who are abused, you have a hard time knowing what's real and what's not. If you were manipulated (which undoubtably you were if you were abused), you start questioning yourself and not trusting your own feelings. It is so important to learn to trust yourself again. Learning to trust your own perceptions, feelings, and intuitions forms a new basis for you to be all that you were created to be. Not someone imprisoned by doubts and insecurity.
I know this is a difficult topic. It's so hard to face this- especially when it's hard to see how our struggles now are connected to our pain from abuse. But if you could see the healing that takes place within the walls of Imagine Hope, you would understand why it's important to slay this giant. If you are on this journey, our hearts go out to you. We list all the steps and give all these tips- making it sound so clinical. But we recognize how difficult they are! Don't give up! There is hope at the end of this process!
Tomorrow Joleen will discuss forgiveness, spirituality, and moving on. Thank you for reading. God bless you on this journey.
Written by Natalie Chandler
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville