|Posted on August 16, 2017 at 2:35 PM|
The Art of Active Healing Part I: Denial
During these next four weeks, we will focus on learning how to tap into the truth we already have inside us and go all out in what I call a “full-thrive”. We will discuss what it means to walk in strength, peace, power and joy—during our healing process and within the boiling pot of imperfection and pain.
When life hands you a plate you didn’t order, even the basic ins and outs of life can become a battle just to keep your head above water. Perhaps you can’t even remember what trust and zest is—it’s been so long since you've possessed either one—or worse, you can’t remember life before the abuse/trauma!
Perhaps your abuse happened decades ago—and yet your heaviness lingers and you’ve noticed you’re getting more traumatized about your past than ever before. Especially after years of numbness, or even decades of intentionally avoiding your memories—or perhaps you only recently remembered what happened to you! Questions are now bombarding you. Why can’t I turn the corner? Why are the bad memories and nightmares getting worse? With each survivor—no matter what our story is—there comes a time, a season, of awakening and realization. Our pain becomes almost tangible. Angry questions like What planet was I on? Why did I allow him to hurt me for so long? Why didn’t I stand up for myself? boil to the surface, demanding answers.
Inspite of this horrific upheaval, something wonderful is happening to you! Your body/soul has decided you are now strong enough to confront your pain! This awakening hurts beyond words! And no wonder—when our eyes have been accustomed to the dark, the sun’s brightness hurts! It makes us squint and want to run the other way! So what is going on? Our bodies have been in protection mode—and as we awaken to the truth of our abuse, we become present. We become aware. And increasingly we begin to feel the reality of what we experienced in our past. We are no longer in shock—which, by the way, is a life-saver when our bodies undergo major trauma.
Much like our body going into shock to preserve us after a physical trauma, our souls put up protection and padding against certain unraveling. We have given this a name. We have called it Denial.
I want to camp here for a while and pull apart the word and the idea of denial. The word denial has been floating around a lot lately. So has the word empowerment. But like other buzz words, we often fail to hear and/or truly acknowledge their meaning or how they apply to us. There were many years of my life that I couldn’t see I was drowning in denial (case in point!), and the word empowerment scared and confused me because I was living the complete polar opposite. We must not take this lightly.
Funny thing when we are wrapped in the blanket of denial, there is a pseudo sense of peace. It isn’t a peaceful kind of peace, but rather a lack of engagement, a lack of being able to be truly present. Certain areas of our hearts are roped off and we must maintain a pseudo existence. We want to be normal. Interestingly when we look closer, denial itself is one of the stages of shock. And when we look even closer, we realize that these stages are actually normal.
I have come to understand denial, and to even respect it. Abuse is too horrific to gaze directly into its face, so our bodies lovingly protect us. We often turn to unrealistic thoughts or escape mechanisms in an attempt to maintain our footing. Denial creates a massive disconnect between our bodies and our souls—which is good for a time. But it isn’t healthy to stay there! This disconnect can only continue for so long until our bodies and our souls cry out, “enough is enough!” We are intricate and priceless creations—and we can only handle denial/neglect for so long. We can put off eating for a time, but our bodies will eventually rise up and demand care. Much in the same way, as survivors, one day we may begin to revisit our long-ago pain. We may begin to experience the trauma as if it happened yesterday. And we hear—if we are willing to listen—our souls demanding to be heard. Asking us to rise up. Care for me! Notice me! Stand up for me! Celebrate the beauty of me—the real me! And with this awakening comes the opening of old wounds.
We have begun our exodus out of denial! We are now being given the choice to come up higher. To allow ourselves to learn to feel again and truly thrive.
Today I want to invite you to step back and view what is happening to you from a different perspective! The mere fact that you are able to finally look at, to see, to comprehend your situation—what really happened to you…even if you still can’t come to grips with it—is a healthy sign! You are healing. Your denial stage was part of your healing too. In the case of long-term emotional, physical or sexual abuse, denial is a way of life.
You are not alone. Your denial was a preservation tool! I encourage you today to be kind to yourself and accept that. Your very soul was protecting YOU. There is life past your abuse. There is life past your stage of shock and denial!! You can find your footing again and be who you were truly created to be! And that person—that person you were born to be—is still here. That You is fighting for you and standing up for you.
I invite you to view your life and your pain from a different perspective! There is no possible way to get from back there (your past abuse/trauma) to the life you deserve and want to live—not without first stepping out of the numbness of denial. And there is no way around the fact that it is going to be hard. It hurts to feel! But you can do this! “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32)
As it pertains to our past abuse, it is truly imperative that we address and embrace our trauma as we would any other major illness, disease or injury. If you were diagnosed with diabetes today, you would be wise to take your diagnosis seriously if you want to live a healthy and happy life. You might be encouraged to make necessary dietary changes or begin an exercise program. You might even join a support group—especially if you were struggling to accept your diagnosis.
Emotional, sexual and/or spiritual abuse are life-altering experiences. These Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) are no less traumatic or impactful to our physical bodies than other more physical forms of trauma—such as diabetes and other health-related issues.
Next week we will discuss, in greater detail, the issues of ACES and how we can learn to take an active role in our own path toward wholeness. Until then, know you are not alone. You are priceless and unique. And it’s OK to feel the unsettling of realization and awareness. In fact it is the beginning—the birth—of finding your voice!