by Carla van Raay
Healing from abuse is a topic high on the agenda now that stories of abuse are being revealed almost every day.
It is a time for truth to come out that has long been hidden in fear. It is also a time for starting to heal the terrible legacy of abuse and end cycles that might have perpetuated themselves for many generations.
What it takes to start to do that is the topic of this article. After all, it is important to get this right. If the healing journey starts off on the assumption that all it takes is talking about it and getting justice, then this is not going to lead a person very far. If the work is undertaken with the aim of just feeling better, then the temptation will be to stop therapy when some pressure has been taken off, and complete healing doesn’t actually occur because healing takes in many lows as well as highs. What is more, incomplete healing may lead to more instances of abuse because the lessons have not yet been learned.
The opinions expressed here are, of course, my own, but they are based on a life-time of experience. Time and time again, as I have tried and failed, tried and succeeded, I have realised what it takes to really, truly heal, and how I can tell that this healing has occurred.
Healing is the process of making whole: wholeness/healing. An abused person is not feeling whole but broken. What is broken within them is their deep-down sense of themselves as a beautiful, worthy and good person – a person worth knowing and loving just for who they are, a person who is worthy to succeed at anything their heart inspires them to do, a person who can relax and be in life with the innocent wonder and appreciation of everything around them.
The process is not a short one, and not an easy one either, but one that can be done by taking just one step at a time and never giving up taking that one step. I would say, by learning one small new thing every day and taking it on board, allowing that one thing to produce a change, is a sure way to success.
The big question is: What is a good starting point? Do you begin with positive self-talk? With psychological understandings, perhaps? Followed with affirmations for the mind that will hopefully make a change to the emotions?
I personally don’t believe that these are effective starting points. In my book, Healing from Abuse a Practical Spiritual Guide (Changemaker Books John Hunt Publisher) I propose that it is the Spirit Within who is the Great Healer, and the best thing a person can do for themselves is to connect with this powerful aspect of themselves.
The Spark of Spirit lives within every person and although perhaps dormant to begin with, can be made more bright until it becomes a Guiding Light. Even from the very start of a journey, as a person begins to consider the truth of their spiritual self, the light of hope shines strongly, and this is the starting point! Hope is the first step, and the first tool to remember to take along always. Without hope, nothing happens. Hope that is based on a deep truth is hope that can only increase with time and not fail a person.
Much can be said about the rest of the journey, but we are talking about an effective starting point here. Making a u-turn from blaming self, another or the world by homing in on something specific to be grateful for, and keeping this in the forefront of awareness, I also consider to be a great starting point. We take a lot for granted. Appreciation and gratitude is the antidote to ‘life as usual,’ especially if that usual life is constantly depressed on account of the ramifications of abuse forever echoing around in our psyches.
After some time with getting acquainted with the Spirit Within, our Large Self, Inner Self, Inner Wisdom, Inner Heart, identification with this ‘part’ becomes more natural and constant. I am writing from personal experience. Now I no longer identify myself as ‘a survivor of abuse,’ not even a ‘thriving survivor’ but as a much-loved child of a totally consistent and benevolent Universe – the Universe I have come to know, paradoxically, by getting to know my Inner, Spiritual Self. What is thought to be ‘out there’ is actually all ‘in here’! I have come to a place of gratitude for all my experiences, without which I would not have eventually achieved the depth of understanding and compassion I now have.
Unconditional love is a rarity on this planet, especially when it is maintained at all times. Our inner, higher selves have this capacity of unconditional self-love, since that is actually the prerogative of Spirit.
My wish is for all abused persons to come to a place of freedom from their sorrows, and freedom from the limitations and conditioning that has been created and re-enforced on account of their painful experiences. Starting off on your journey in the company of a being of unconditional love must surely be a good start! And this being is within us – the Spirit Within. No-one can heal another, since permanent healing depends on the lessons being learnt and integrated. All any therapist can do is guide a person to their own healing. You can only heal yourself, but you are not alone. You can find guidance if you look around, and my little book, Healing from Abuse a Practical Spiritual Guide, will, I hope, inspire you in a real and practical way.
Healing from Abuse by Carla van Raay
Healing from Abuse: A Practical Spiritual Guide is a balm for the soul. The path of healing is awesome, yet the author, who has advanced along that very same journey herself, maintains that everyone who takes it up is somehow given the power and support to make a success out of it.
This book is presented as a part of that support and that empowerment. In its pages the reader is introduced and gradually made familiar with the Spirit of their inner being, the reality so easily ignored and yet so powerful once engaged.