The Courage to Heal

Along with going to therapy, I have been reading the Courage to heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis. This book is my new bible. It is giving me so much validation and helping me understand the various layers of abuse and work through it with writing exercises.  So naturally, I want to share my progress through this book.

Here is a link to the book: http://www.ellenbass.com/books/the-courage-to-heal/

Here is a link to the workbook book: http://www.harpercollins.com/browseinside/index.aspx?isbn13=9780060964375

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When I began my healing journey, I was convinced that after two solid years of therapy with a psychiatrist, I was done. I was healed. I had seen and forgiven my abusers since the time of the abuse and I had become successful in many aspects of my life. I was a great friend, great partner, daughter, sister, you name it. AND I no longer felt like it was my fault. So, when I got into a serious relationship, it was very very hard to accept that there was still some healing to be done. I knew that I still struggled with shame and that I had not disclosed to my parents. I knew that these had an impact on me but I did not want to believe that what ever work was remaining, would be able to have a significant impact on my relationship, because lets face it, I am quite amazing.

As confident as I am in myself, I still have lingering self esteem issues. When I was able to see that I could not always explain my behaviours, my reactions (overreactions), my trust issues and my intense fear of pain, I realized it was time to re-explore the past sexual abuse. Through The Courage to Heal, the very first chapter ended in many many tears. For the first time in years, I read through all of the potential effects of abuse an individual can experience and was able to recall going through about 90% of that list at one point or another. However, the tears were not of pain but of joy. Because almost thirty years old now, I no longer can identify with many of these side effects of sexual abuse. I have overcome many of the side effects of sexual abuse. So I cried and cried and cried. Because I had forgotten what it was like from the ages of 9 to 29. I also cried because for the first time in twenty years, I received the type of validation I had been looking for. Finally, all the questions I had about why I was the way I was  – like was it because of the abuse, or  was I just over-reacting, or  was I over-attributing – were answered. Yes, I could say, it was a shit show. AND I could also say, that somehow, mostly all on my own, I found a way out and a way to reverse the damage.

As I move along this book, I again am often overwhelmed with joy, anger, incredible grief and many times I wonder, why does this have to be so hard. I still desperately want to believe that its over. Please, please, pretty please. I just want it to be over. But then I think of chapter one, and remember that I did it. Somehow, I found a way to survive, and I can get through this too. And one day, my healing journey will be complete although I will always be a sexual abuse survivor.

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