In my last post, I wrote about my abuse and what it did to me. I stated that I would be writing about the tools that helped me in my healing and rebuilding. I have always been a “fixer”, so when I started to fall apart, I was desperate to fix me. I thought it wouldn’t take long if I did whatever my counselor told me to do. I have learned one very valuable lesson— healing from abuse takes time. You don’t just “get over it!” I berated myself for years because I just couldn’t “get over it!” Don’t do that! Rebuilding takes time. Be patient with yourself and the process.
Twenty years ago, I was at a point in my life that I was desperate. My panic attacks were so strong that I couldn’t be alone and could barely leave the house. I was in a perpetual state of fear. I only found a little bit of relief when the doctor was able to find the right medication to ease the attacks that were taking over my life.
I was talking to a good friend about my issues and she suggested seeing the counselor that she was seeing. I knew I had to do this, so I called and made an appointment. That was the first step I made to heal. I remember resisting to make that phone call for a few days. You would think that it would have been easy, but it wasn’t. I wanted to get better, but I also knew I was going to have to talk about things I didn’t want to talk about.
I lived in silence for forty years about what happened with my dad. I was also oblivious to the deep seated issues. When you live a lie for so many years, you tend to think it is normal. So, the thought that I would have to talk about it, scared the crap out of me!
My counselor was so patient with me. She didn’t ask the hard questions until she knew I was ready. It was a slow, slow process to get to the point I could talk about the sexual abuse. There were so many feelings that took a long time to surface. Many layers to go through to get to the issues.
Let me say that I highly recommend biblical counseling. That is what I recommend for anyone. If you live in an area that doesn’t have this type of counseling, there are ways to do it online. AACC has online resources and so does Focus On The Family. You can have sessions online with trained counselors. You might have to do a bit of research, but it is definitely worth it. You are worth it!
The next step I took was to start journaling. I have to say that counseling and journaling go hand in hand. You have to get your feelings out. Putting a pen to your pain is so important. There are things you can say on paper that you can’t speak about. A journal doesn’t have to be expensive. I use spiral bound notebooks that you can buy for a dollar.
The other day, I decided to look at the journals I wrote when I first started counseling. As I was going through the pages, I came across an exercise that my counselor had me do. She told me to write a letter to my dad. I am right handed, but she wanted me to use my left hand while writing the letter. She wanted it to be from my viewpoint as a child. I was able to put the feelings I felt as a child on paper. It actually looked like I had written it when I was a child.
Journaling has been a lifeline for me. It not only was a way to express my feelings, but it opened up a way for me to communicate with God. I actually began my journaling each day with, “Dear Lord.” Every day was a new letter to God. These letters created a relationship to the One I was writing to. I spoke about what I was learning. I told Him what I was feeling. I wrote down scripture that was helping me. I also wrote quotes from books I was reading and principles from Bible studies I was doing.
I needed a voice because of all the years of secrets. I needed someone to talk to about the things I kept hidden and journaling gave me a voice. The little girl inside me needed a voice too. I had to connect with her so she could speak. I know this might sound weird to you, but my counselor talked about the importance of allowing little Laurie to have a say.
Journaling also gave me intimacy with God. God knew my story, but I needed to process it with HIm. While I was writing, God would speak to my heart. His words brought truth, comfort, healing and power. He became my best friend and confidant.
We are made to have a relationship with God. He wants us to talk to Him. I learned that when I talked to Him, it opened the door for me to also have the ability to listen to Him. Let me share a verse with you. Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”
What do most people do at the dining room table? They talk. They share. They laugh. They ask questions. They get to know one another. They build relationships. Having a meal with someone is one of the best ways to communicate.
When I opened the door and allowed Jesus to come into my messy life and when I started to unload the secrets I was hiding, my life took a turn towards healing. He was right by my side the whole time helping me say what I needed to say. I found safety in Him. I began to feel safe unloading my secrets to HIm. But, it was a process. Healing is a process.
I began to devour the Bible to find verses that helped me talk to God and claim His truth. I wrote them down on 3×5 cards and carried them with me so I could remember what His word said when the fear and anxiety would strike. I want to share some of them with you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Forsake means abandon)
Exodus 14:13-14 “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.”
Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
Psalm 139:5 “You are all around me—in front and in back—and have put your hand on me.”
I have so many more, but you can see that I picked verses that gave me a picture of a loving and caring God. Those verses told me He doesn’t ever abandon me. He fights for me. He takes hold of my right hand and tells me not to be afraid because He wants to help me. He even surrounds me. I knew these facts about God, but I needed to picture Him listening, caring, and holding me before I could share my messy life with Him.
Find a special place where you can feel safe to talk to God. My place is in my bedroom. I close my eyes and picture us sitting on a bench in a garden. He is sitting next to me. We talk about what is bothering me. Then there are times, that I talk to Him from across a table. We are eating and enjoying being together. Do whatever works for you. The important thing is for you to be honest and get your feelings out. Then, listen. He doesn’t speak audibly, but you will hear his voice through the Holy Spirit inside you.
Counseling, journaling and scripture are essential for healing. Each one is a crucial piece in the puzzle of rebuilding your life. If you would like more scripture, please comment on my post and I would be happy to share more with you.
Remember…. it takes time to heal. It takes time to learn new ways to cope. It takes time to grow and rebuild. You are not alone. Please find someone you trust that will pray for you. I will be sharing the books I’ve read, the studies I’ve done, and the principles I’ve learned in my next posts.
This is my journey to joy. Until next time….