I feel a bit funny, and not “funny hah hah”, writing this post due to a previous article about how my recovery journey has been seeming to go in reverse. So this is an attempt to validate and encourage, and empower myself and hopefully you too. I don’t always see the good that’s happening amidst the craziness in my life, but I’m working on that.
I think that’s one of the biggest catch phrases in the survivor community, “feeling empowered or being empowered”. It sounds encouraging just saying it out loud, it’s also terrifying for many, including myself.
When you’ve lived with the shame, fear, and regret of being sexually abused as a child, all you know for so long is to keep silent. Don’t dare tell anyone your secret for fear of being ridiculed or minimized, I told myself. That’s what I did for decades, and from what I’ve learned it’s an all too common thing for survivors of any type of abuse.
As I’ve been going through therapy, interacting in chats online, Facebook safe groups, blogging, and reading; I’ve been able to start coming out of my shell little bits at a time. When you talk with people in survivor chats, you find that they are all at different points in their recovery journey. Some have just begun the healing process, while others are thriving, and every phase in between. In talking to these amazing people you see how willing they are to share and support one another. We are truly all in this together!
Even those that join a chat or Facebook safe group for the first time, find how welcoming and validating everyone is. We judge no-one and offer support and validation and kindness to all. That type of atmosphere is empowering and inviting and it’s amazing how quickly you can feel more comfortable opening up.
That’s not to say that it’s easy though, not by a long shot. Nobody wants to admit they were abused, beaten, raped, trafficked, or anything else. As we know though, sharing can be empowering and really speed up our healing process. When you find validation among other survivors, in time you almost can’t help but start to feel like you are making progress too! You CAN put in the work to heal and have the life you want.
I say those last two sentences not to minimize anyone’s feelings. For many of us our past is so horrible we can barely stand to think about it let alone talk about it, but there is hope in safe community, there really is! I know this first hand because I’m there too and I’m beginning the feel the positive effects of reaching out and sharing.
In a way you almost don’t even realize you are being empowered and healed until someone points it out to you.
If you’re a minimizer like me, it takes people telling you over and over how far you’ve come and how amazing you’re doing. Even then it can take a long time to sink in and accept because we’re so used to feeling like we’re nothing, worthless, and just plain used up beyond all comprehension.
When you see people share, encourage each other, and be vulnerable, you begin to feel that way too, in time.
It’s not like you wake up one morning and be like, “Hey I’m healed today and everything will be great from now on”.
Real, true, lasting, healing is a long journey filled with triumps and setbacks, each with their own unique part to play in the person you are wanting to become.
I make a conscious effort to post up an encouraging quote and image in every post. I also tweet out encouragement randomly most every morning and here and there throughout the day as time permits.
Before I go to bed I often times will tweet out letting everyone know that #WeAreSurvivors and #WeGotThis, or something along those lines. The way I see it, I’m hopefully helping someone know that they are aren’t alone no matter what kind of day they’ve had. In doing that repeatedly you really can start to believe it yourself.
As much as I want to stay comfortable at times just being “stuck” and feeling sad because of my past, that is slowly beginning to subside every so slightly. I can see myself becoming more empowered as time goes on.
I can’t stress enough that it takes a lot of positive reinforcement, validation, and work on our part but we can absolutely retrain our brains and focus more on the good things we have ahead for ourselves.
Keep working hard at your recovery, give yourself a break and some credit, encourage others, and you just might begin to see yourself believing what you are preaching sooner than you think.
That’s what I keep telling myself.