The following is a quote from Ellen Bass and Laura Davis in "The Courage to Heal," it was posted this morning on the facebook page of Overcoming Child Sexual Abuse. I responded t it with my own experience. https://www.facebook.com/overcoming.osa.
It also contains a commentary on the efficacy of books on healing from non-credentialed partially healed people. These books, as well as, public appearances and statements on CSA by celebrities who are also partially healed, but have "overcome" the difficulties of CSA are often given the weight of healing tecquies and methods, and are thus given more weight than they warrant. They can lead people away from their healing paths and give the impression that either complete healing and wholeness are not possible or that the techniques promoted will bring about healing. A careful reading and understanding of statements by the partially healed can provide insight into why using such writings and statements as sign posts to complete healing is dubious at best.
“At the most basic level, you may believe that you don’t deserve anything good in your life. Your feelings about yourself may fluctuate wildly. You may feel okay about yourself most of the time, self-critical feelings lying dormant until you have some kind of setback—a loss, a period of change, an argument with someone you love.” The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis
The above statement is an indication of partial healing. This does not mean that the book from which the statement is taken does not have value. It is a book about partial healing from CSA written by women without credentials who are themselves only partially healed. If partial healing is your goal if perhaps serenity is your end and not wholeness, then by all means read such books and apply the methods described.
Please respect my choice, to follow a road less traveled one that is more painful who's goal is not happiness and serenity for these are not goals at all, but false or fools gold nuggets to be found along the way. My goal is full healing and wholeness. My method is hard deep and painful. As painful as the abuse itself but it's end is worth the pain, and is more worth while than living the frustration a partially healed life.
This morning I read the above statement; I could certainly related to it. But I thought it was odd in a book about healing without the comfort of knowing that these emotional residues from the abuse would not eventually dissipate and disappear altogether. For that is what this statement is about sign-posts on the way to wholeness and healing -- the quoted statement is not a legacy. As survivors we are not resigned to a life punctuated by feelings of hopelessness and self criticism. I believe that even Judith Herman MD in "Trauma and Recovery" implies that trauma survivors will always have the potential for negative feelings to be triggered This is a subject I would like to take up with her more deeply. I do not believe this to be true for survivors. I think that the views expressed in "The Courage to Heal" and in "Trauma and Recovery" are in fact subtle suggestions from those who should know better of inviting the survivor in yet again another of the million ways people tell us to "just get over it."
If I as a survivor will always be haunted by self-criticism and a feeling of being less than or if I will always be prone to triggering events that may lead to flashbacks and the same self-criticism and feelings of worthlessness then I am not healed, and I am most likely pursuing healing using a method that is inadequate. Most likely i am using a modality that seeks to remove symptoms or change symptomatic behavior. While there is comfort in such methods and the illusion of progress, I will never be healed, at some point I will reach a state of "serenity" which includes a resignation to the fact that I am somehow damaged by the abuse ireprobly. I will be forever pursuing methods of not healing but of changing my behavior and eternally in a state know as ' "recovery." I choose another path. A path that leads to fullness, wholeness and healing as if the abuse never happened.
My thoughts, given the quote, and where I am on my journey today follow.
Funny how they don't allow me to comment on their page any more https://www.facebook.com/overcoming.osa . There are ways around that. The point this morning though is that this is an older book, which does not mean it does not have value.
Therapeutically though the book leaves much to be desired. I do not know the context of the quotation below, but it is indicative of a partially healed person. For example, I wake up feeling this way each and every morning in the state described in the quote -- feeling frightened, worthless and self-critical, the qualifying event or setback as the authors call it, I guess, is awakening. I wake up in fear, and with a sense of worthlessness and betrayal and shame always the shame. Sometimes these feelings can be accompanied with a sense of not believing the truth. The truth of the incest I endured and survived not being true> I sometimes wake up with a sense of shame associated with portraying my family as child molesters and falsely accusing them.
When this happens I start bringing myself back to reality and healing with looking at my sign posts. The first sign post I usually start with is the initial scent that started bringing the abuse memories to the level of consciousness, from the subconscious where they were buried for decades, save for a few unassociated constructs. This was a scent I reexpereinced several years ago, and I was overwhelmed with a sense of familiarity and repugnance. This was the scent of the laundry room sink where I was suffocated when I was 4 which. I was passing an area that gave off the same scent as this sink, the area was made of that same material, and this scent changed my life, for it was then that I began to remember. This is a sign post to reality.
Then there is an amnesia experience that occurred a few years after I reexperienced the scent that triggered remembering my almost being killed in the sink. The memory of meeting a friend who was important to me was wiped clean in a rush a wave of negative emotion that I could not hold back. It was like trying to hold back a wave. Another sign post an undeniable link to the past. Whenver doubts creep in to support my daily awakening to fear, shame and worthlessness, I simply remember the sign posts. these undeniable links to reality, which cannot and will not be denied. Referring to these undeniable sign posts brings me back to reality and the fullness of all the rest of the memories and where I am right now in my healing journey.
On these mornings the things I have just described are part of my therapeutic, before I can move forward with my day.
Then I deal with the fear that is described above the sense of worthlessness, this is how I awaken every single day. This is an affect, a result of telling truth and living in reality. The truth is horrific and hideous, thus there was a reason for the amnesia beyond protecting the perpetrators, it was to protect me, from the hideous disgusting truth that I was in the hands of evil people at their mercy and existed only for their use and to protect them at the expense of me. Then there is the still present feeling memories of what they said they would do to me if I talked. Well, I am talking and more than talking I am re-structuring my thinking to absorb the fact that I did not grow up in a family. The idea of growing up in a family is a misperception. The idea of them being "normal" is false it is an image that the adults wanted projected to the world for their self protection,and I participated in presenting this image to the world of normalcy in order to protect the perpetrators.
Well I am no longer living in that false reality. I am no longer living that misperception, nor am I participating in it in any way. I did not grow up in a family. I escaped from an incest ring. I was molested by my mother on an ongoing basis individually and in groups between the ages of 4 and 9. I was molested by my father on two occasions, I was molested by my maternal grandmother individually on an ongoing basis between the ages of 4 and 9, at 4 years old she attempted to murder me via water boarding suffocation, I was molested by my mother's step father my maternal grandfather between the ages of 4 and 9. He sodomized me on multiple occasions. My maternal grandmother’s uncles and male cousins physically abused me at the age of 9 when the abuse to the attention of my pastor, a Catholic priest who put a stop to the abuse. These are the acts that I must face and absorb a little bit more each and everyday as I awaken in the state described by the authors in the above quote. I do this so I can live in reality in the truth, and so someday when I am completely whole again and all of these vents have been absorbed, I will not have to awaken to these fears and sense of utter worthlessness.
So, each morning I awaken and feel less than, worthless and ashamed. Then I pray. I absorb the reality. Sometimes I can make a connection with the inner child before he was abused wherein lies the uncorrupted self -- seat of the personality the spirit the me that God created in His image and likeness whole, worthy, and uncorrupted; and the EGO, which not a bad thing is also God given, and the seat of my unique qualifications for life, my hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Every morning I awaken with a false sense of self as described above, and I get with God in an intimate way to make connection through the years of abuse to whom I really am. Then I am ready for the day. This is how I get ready for the day. I make connection with God and His Mother and foster father, and I become whole enough for the day to function at what many people consider to be a high level -- but it is me it is just me being me. It is who. I am not the person I awaken as -- I think I am the person the abusers tried to make me into -- that is not me.
So, what I have described, this daily process of awakening, is an indication that I am but partially healed. What I do each morning is part of the healing process, I must continue to remember to speak and to write each and every detail ,each last dark crevice must be brought into the light of truth. I must illuminate the darkness with the light of the world until all of it, all ofthe hideous dark unspeakable secrets are broght into His light and absorbed.
Then I can be the me that He created me to be. This therapeutic? Well I can see no other way to fully absorb and believe and know that it was all their fault. It had nothing to do with me. Profound evil was perpetrated on me by evil people. This evil was and is theirs. It has nothing to do with me whatsoever. It is all the fault of those evil people who had access to me.
When this process is complete, and it is a process that has a beginning, a middle, and an end (hence the word process), then I will be whole. When I don't just know these things, but when their reality and all the repercussions all the detail every dark crevice has been absorbed to my innermost bones, then I will not have to consciously remember these things again; when they have been absorbed fully integrated into me, then I will be healed and whole.
This is a hideous therapeutic that I would wish on no one. It means consciously every day living the abuse. It means writing the details not knowing what new feeling, emotion fear terror will be in those dark places.
I am beginning the middle of this process and it has already paid dividends of healing. I could not do it without my Catholic faith. others I know do this work without faith, as for me I cannot imagine undertaking this process and continuing it without my Catholic Faith IN Jesus Christ and His mother. I will not settle for partially healed, nor do I settle for books written the partially healed nor do I hang onto public statements by celebrities who are partially healed. I do not find these to be therapeutically helpful, although they are inspiring.
Throughout the day, when self-criticism, shame terror crop up I practice the same therapeutic. I will continue undeterred until the process is complete.