Tomorrow is the first day of group study. Please be in prayer for the ladies who will meet together for the next 13 Thursday nights, and also the men and women who are following this blog. I am not going to retype the entire workbook, so instead I will select parts of each lesson to blog about each day.
The workbook we are using is Shelter From the Storm, by Cynthia Kubetin Littlefield and James Mallory, M.D.
Since group starts tomorrow, I'm going to share a little of the Introduction with you. (I will italicize when something is coming directly from the book.)
"Our lives have been distorted by the trauma of sexual abuse... Nothing in life isolates us from healthy human relationships and from a relationship with God as does sexual abuse. Any experience of sexual abuse - but especially child sexual abuse - violates our boundaries and our trust. The experience teaches us not to trust appropriately. It sets us up for a life that combines times of painful isolation interrupted by experiences of blindly trusting, which set us up to be victimized again and again. Shelter From the Storm will help you to understand yourself. You will begin to identify destructive patterns that the abuse began and that other influences and choices have strengthened in your life. As you identify these harmful patterns, you will be able to make Christ-honoring and life-enhancing changes. It will help you learn how you can experience God's love, forgiveness, and power in all life's circumstances. You will learn to not only understand the storm of sexual abuse, but to move from victim to survivor to thriver.
As we go through this process, you will have the means to identify the ways that your past experience is damaging your present circumstance. You will be equipped to begin a healing process which will bring you a clear sense of identity and a healthy relationship to the Lord built on positive experiences and His unconditional love."
As I read through that, I am reminded of what I've heard counselors say over and over again. "Most of the time, someone doesn't come in saying that they need to process through childhood sexual abuse. What generally happens is that someone comes in to discuss other issues and over a period of time it is revealed that they were sexually abused." And when I think about my own counseling sessions, I can vividly remember saying that my current problems had nothing at all to do with the abuse ---- "I was over the abuse. It was history. Who cares about that? I am not damaged! My (ex) husband was a jerk. I was justified in walking out on him because he didn't meet all my needs. It is all my mom's fault that our relationship is rocky. I am not "needy", I just enjoy flirting. I don't withdraw from others, they ignore me. Why not just pick up and start again, I'm young? Now that I'm all grown up, I will control everything." And there are many more defensive, justifying statements that I'd tell myself and others to keep from ever dealing with what was at the core of my pain.
Friends, in the coming months, we will unpack a lot and will discover "treasures hidden in the darkness - sweet riches", Isaiah 45:3a. I look forward to writing more tomorrow and reading what you have to say in the comments. Many prayers and blessings as you begin this journey.