by Christina Enevoldsen
I felt incredibly insecure about my healing process in the beginning. Most other survivors I knew, the ones really serious about healing, had hired therapists. I couldn’t afford one. I couldn’t even afford a haircut.
I wondered how much I could heal without guidance and support from a professional. Whatever progress I made, would it be considered “legitimate”? I felt like an outsider even within the survivor community.
I was determined to heal. I would find a way. I had some ideas about how I’d start, but I’d have to figure out the rest along the way.
I noticed early in my process that healing required a lot of extra energy. My first clue was that I panicked when my phone rang. It was a threat and invasion and I had to get away from it. Everyone having access to me all the time was taking its toll.
I’d cultivated a lot of relationships where I was the giver without getting much in return. My ringing phone meant someone wanted another piece of me. Just like my abuse.
With all the energy that the healing process required, I didn’t have anything left to give. I only had enough for me.
My low energy threatened my motivation to keep going. I needed to make some changes. Healing and “life as usual” wouldn’t coexist. I couldn’t pretend that I was fine and or that I could heal in my spare time. It had to be a priority. I had to prepare for it and make a plan.
My plan involved two main things:
- eliminating or reducing the things that drained my energy
- being intentional about recharging so I could maintain my energy
I did that by reaching out and reaching in.
Reaching out: I found that most of my answers were (and still are) in relationships.
- I rallied support through my husband and friends.
- I found recovery buddies.
- I learned how to ask for help.
- I became intentional about scheduling time with people who energized me.
- I learned to evaluate safe and unsafe people.
- I reduced and eliminated time with energy-draining people.
Reaching in: The most important person on my support team is me.
- I learned how to be there for myself in spite of how the abuse caused me to abandon myself.
- I got to know myself and how to meet my needs.
- I grew in self-care and learned how to love and nurture myself.
- I discovered how to connect with my emotions and appreciate them as keys to my healing.
- I learned to use triggers as a way to heal.
- I found healthy coping strategies to use while I faced the pain.
- I learned to create healthy boundaries.
During my healing journey, I’ve experienced the usual challenges of life. After all, life doesn’t stop handing us challenges just because we already have this huge recovery to manage.
I was homeless for several months while I was still learning self-care (who am I kidding? I’m always learning self-care!); I was sued by my parents for exposing my molester-father; I experienced the death of my dad; and I suffered a miscarriage.
All of that threatened to derail my healing process. But I kept working my plan and that kept me going—I not only strengthened my resolve to keep healing, but I actually had the energy to meet my resolve.
Healing can’t be rushed and there are no short-cuts but I kept moving and improving. Now I know there’s nothing “illegitimate” about the process I used to heal. I’ve felt better and better all the time. And it’s not just that I feel better. Healing is more than making the pain go away. I’m finally the person I always wanted to be.
Now I know how empowered I was to heal in spite of how insecure I felt at the beginning. And I’ve discovered something else after working with abuse survivors for 9 years: ALL of us are empowered to heal.
I’d love to know what strategies and tips you’ve found along the way that works for you. Please comment below and contribute to the conversation. Remember to subscribe to the comments so you don’t miss any of the discussion. You can post anonymously and email addresses are kept private.
I’m Christina Enevoldsen and I’m the cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse and the author of The Rescued Soul: The Writing Journey for the Healing of Incest and Family Betrayal. I’m a Strategic Interventionist and Certified Professional Life Coach with a specialty Life Story Certification. As a survivor of incest, sex trafficking and a 21-year long abusive marriage (now remarried to an emotionally healthy, loving and supportive man), I bring personal experience, empathy, and insight as well as professional training to help childhood sexual abuse survivors thrive.