Monday, February 9, 2009

How long does it take?

I get quite a few emails from people who are following
this blog... One that I received today expresses what
many of you are likely thinking. With the writer's
permission, I would like to share it with you.

Email from K: You don't know me, I just wanted to drop
you an email and say hi. I came across your blog when
I was looking for Christian resources on this topic.
I think I am just starting on the road to recovery. A
couple of months in. I've been hoping for a quick fix...
but I'm learning that isn't the way the Lord usually
works. I find your blog very hard to read, but thank you
for writing it. Please keep blogging, there isn't much
stuff like this around in the UK and it's such a comfort
and guide to me. I have a million questions, but I'll
just ask one, how long does it take for the memories
to not affect you so much?

My response: Thank you so much for your email. I am
always so blessed to hear that the blog is useful and
helping others. I take a lot of comfort in that
personally -- it reminds me that my childhood was worth
more than merely surviving. That, because of the things
I went through and the way God is healing me daily, I
have something I can share with others to help them too.
This ministry gives an indescribable purpose to the pain
from my childhood.

I know that reading the blog is hard. Take your time
getting through it. It is not about speed reading but
about healing.

I wish there was a simple answer to your question. I
think that a big part of the answer has to do with how we
choose to respond to the situation. That might be hard to
understand... It is human nature to feel sorry for
ourselves, to focus intensely on the anger and rage that
we feel, or to get totally caught up in the unfairness of
the situation. But when we do that, I think we get caught
up in the emotional wildfire and experience the complete
opposite of peace. When we're in that place, there is no
chance for the memories to fade because we are so focused
on them.

As we take this journey laid out in the Shelter From
the Storm
study, we will process through the memories,
feelings, emotions, coping mechanisms, etc. But our
purpose here is solution-oriented. We are not going
through this study just to relive all the garbage. We
want to understand what has happened to us, recognize how
it has and is effecting our lives, and figure out what we
need to do differently in order to be completely restored.

How long will it take? I wish I could tell you...
Everyone's process is different. I didn't start involving
God in my recovery until I was 29 years old. My first
visit with a counselor was at age 12, so that is 17 years
of of my life that might have been drastically different
if I'd had gone to him first. And when I did invite God
into this process, my baggage was immediately lighter - but
I was very ready for major life change! You've heard it
said before, "a person cannot be helped if they don't want
help". That was true in my case. I had a lot of big ideas
about how I was just fine, or how I could control things
into a degree of fine, or I could just move far away and
discover a great new life. But none of my great plans
panned out, so God was the only viable option left for me.
And I was as ready for his healing as I'd ever been for
anything else in my life. I wanted it and was willing to
do everything He asked me to do to get it - even the
things I didn't want to do.

The first month of the process is very hard. Defining
sexual abuse, reflecting on our lives in order to determine
the abuses we've suffered, naming our abusers, recognizing
the dysfunction around us, etc. are all very difficult
tasks (and all bring back a lot of old memories, flashbacks,
nightmares, etc). We are ripping down the veil and coming
face to face with what we've invested precious time and
energy into running away from. It brings back old memories
and breaks our hearts all over again. This is one heck of
a hurdle! But from here, once we know what we're dealing
with, we can begin to rebuild. The earlier lessons involve
exposing all the darkness, pain, shame and secrets. The
latter lessons are focused on healing them - overcoming
fears, healing loneliness, being comforted, beginning to
trust again, becoming able to discern trustworthy from
untrustworthy people, learning what forgiveness is and why
we need to do it, confronting those who have hurt us, and
discovering intimacy in relationships. These are the
skills we were unable to develop as victims of
abuse.. God's plan is for us to have deep and meaningful
relationships and joyful lives. That is where the hope
lies that we need to hold on to for dear life in order to
get us through this recovery process.

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