Journey to Happiness
Forward by Cheryl:
This letter was sent to me by Sharon , requesting suggestions and advice on healing after the trauma of child abuse. I thank her for writing and giving me the chance to share my thoughts and feelings. Hopefully through our sharing, we can help others who have felt the same despair as she did.
My name is Sharon . I too, am a survivor. I have just started to take a look into what has been hurting me for so long. I am forty-five years and have spent my life doing whatever it takes to not look at the incest. I guess better now than never. I am hoping you may have some suggestions for me. Do you know anything about incest survivor groups? I would greatly appreciate any information or helpful suggestions you may have for me. I am just beginning my healing process.
My Response Letter
August 27th 2002
Hi, it’s Cheryl. Long ago, you wrote to me requesting suggestions regarding your abuse. I apologize for not replying sooner; I should have. I hope I’m not too late in offering advice. Perhaps you’ve already received help from another source. If not, hopefully I can help you somehow.
You mentioned that you were just starting your journey of healing. Good for you. It takes courage to face your fears and even more, to live through them once again. You should be proud of taking such a step.
I’m not sure what kind of advice I can give you as I don’t know much about your situation. I will try my best to see if there is anything I can help you with. First off, I’m going to steer you to an amazing survivor’s site. It’s called, Havoca.org Jamie, the owner of the site, has done a fabulous job. Since you are just beginning your journey, you will find a wealth of information to read. On the left margin, there are links, all with answers to the questions you seek. There is also a quiet corner for those who want to share their poems, letters and stories. I, myself, have shared there and will continue to do so in the future. Please feel free to read my writings in Havoca as well as other contributors there. They just might help you. Each of us have a story to tell, and in doing so, we help survivors realize they are not alone.
Professional one on one therapy might be very beneficial to you. Being that you are just starting your healing process, a survivor’s group might be too overwhelming. Talking to one person can be hard enough if you’re not ready for it. Once you are comfortable with speaking freely to your therapist, by all means, look for a survivor’s group. I’m sure your confidant could direct you to the right group associated with sexual abuse.
I, myself, have never participated in survivor group therapy. Sometimes I wish I had. It would be comforting talking to others, being able to relate to individual experiences. Not to mention, the friendships you’d make along the way. I think it would be beneficial to share within a group. Each and every person, listening with a full heart, understanding the pain you are going through. Sharing means healing; healing brings inner-peace. Each time we share, our pain is a little less. We learn that we are truly not alone in being a survivor.
Do talk to your therapist if you have one. Have him suggest a survivors group in your area when you are ready to participate in a group discussion. If you decide it’s not for you, then please, don’t give up on your journey. See your therapist for as long as you need too. They are there for you, always. They are caring, compassionate people who always listen with an open heart.
I’ve enjoyed corresponding with survivors via the internet. Since I missed out on group discussions, I chose to share my email and have others contact me instead. This way, I meet amazing people and learn from their experiences. They in turn, learn from mine, as I share with them my own story. It’s amazing what we can learn from each other. We have so much inside ourselves to give, more than we realize.
I never knew I could help people. With my love of writing and being able to express my feelings, I can. In living the abuse, I am able to speak from my heart and share through my experience. In doing this, my abuse was not in vain. Something good has come out of it. I’ve received several emails thanking me for the in-depth responses I have given them. I take time; I put my heart into each and every one. I find in writing to others, it heals me as well. I’ve got so much inside me and when I start to write, it just comes. It’s good to release feelings and even better, to share them with someone.
My writing began long ago, comforting me, helping me express my pain in a healthier way. My first writings were my journals. I wrote in them regularly, filling the papers with anger, sorrow and tears. Since my journaling, I’ve progressed to writing poetry, short romance stories, and now, to survivors. It feels good to write. It’s my gift in life, and I choose to use it to the best of my ability. If I can help just one person, then I have succeeded in my goals.
You asked me for suggestions. Here is one more. I highly recommend you journal. Write down all your thoughts and feelings, especially if you are feeling down. Write down all the positive things in your life, too. Write down your dreams, your goals, where you want to be in a year’s time. Reach for that goal and don’t give up until you get there. We all have hopes and dreams; it’s up to us to live them.
Write about the child within. Or, write to her. Write to your abuser. I have done all three. When you let yourself see, instead of not seeing, you realize your inner child needs you. Her issues need to be addressed. She needs to know she is loved and forgiven as well. She needs to know she is not forgotten. She earned the right to be here.
Most times, we blame our inner child. I know I did. I was hard on her; never letting myself think of her, never seeing her, or wanting to know her. But, I had to do this to heal, as she is a part of me. If I can’t love the child within me, then how can I truly love myself? If I can’t forgive the child within me, how can I forgive myself? I can’t.
We are one with our inner child. To feel complete, we have to accept the child within. In doing this, we become whole and can then nurture ourselves to become healthy adults. Only then, can we begin our journey to happiness.
Writing to your abuser can be therapeutic as well. Even if you decide not to face him/her with your letter, it still helps to write it. Share all your feelings of hurt, anger and shame. Tell him/her how your life was affected, then and now. Let your words flow, let the pain seep from your heart as you fill the pages with your inner-most thoughts and feelings. You will feel a tremendous weight being lifted once you do. Afterwards, if you decide not to share it, tuck it away for safe keeping.
I shared mine. I only wish I had done it sooner. My step-grandpa was in his late nineties before I read it to him personally. I was almost forty. It felt good to defend my inner child. It really did. I felt proud in accomplishing this as it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I think in doing this, it has helped me come to terms with my abuse somewhat better. I was able to talk about my feelings after reading it. I was able to share my anger, and my tears. Most importantly, I was able to stand up for the child within me. I needed to do that. I needed to let her be heard. Her secrets hurt her and it was up to me, to help her heal, in sharing them.
Even though I have come a long way, I still deal with a roller-coaster of emotions. Life can be hard sometimes. It’s not always easy. I have harbored secrets all my life, which in turn, affects my behavior. Even though I have shared with my abuser as well as my family, I still act out sometimes. When anger is a learned behavior, it’s not easy to change. When pain brings tears in oceans, its not easy letting them become streams. When we become controlling perfectionists, it’s hard to change who we are. All we can do is try and be the best we can be.
We are survivors and can feel proud that we have come this far. Life will always have trials and tribulations. There will always be roller-coaster rides. We just have to learn to deal with them in a healthier way. Whether it’s a therapist, group discussions, or journaling, we need to say focused and realize that we truly are survivors. We always were. We hid secrets, carrying a burden far too heavy for us to bear. We survived the unspeakable. We carried an inner-strength that got us through our pain. We were strong. We had to be, to survive.
Sharon , take each day, one at a time. You carry the strength to get through them. Don’t be afraid to look inside yourself; don’t be afraid to let your child within, come out. See her, love her, and most importantly, forgive her. The abuse you sustained was not your fault, you were a child.
Follow through with your therapy, journal daily, nurture yourself when time allows. Go for walks; reflect during your quiet times. Reflect on what’s good in your life; your family, your friends; those who love you unconditionally. Friendship truly is the gold thread that ties hearts together. Keep them close to your heart as you begin your journey to happiness.
Remember, yesterday is already a dream; tomorrow is only a vision, but today well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow, a vision of hope.