Healing the Inner Child

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I am crying as I write this blog today. Someone very close to me is trying to heal from sexual abuse that they went through as a child and it is hard to see them go through the hurt that they are still carrying around after all these years. I am so proud of them for facing it head on, refusing to be a victim and working towards healing their emotional and spiritual wounds. But it is hard to witness.

It all partially started because Oprah recently had a special two-part episode on adult male survivors of child abuse. I only saw the second part, but it really, really touched me. At one point, each survivor held up a picture of themselves from when they were kids and this abuse was going on. It was a very powerful visual representation of the horrible loss of innocence that they endured.

Not having been abused myself, I can only imagine what these men went through and how it altered the course of their lives. Each of them were so significantly damaged by what happened, that to this day they still struggle with authority figures, intimacy, self-worth, trust, anger...the list goes on.

How does one heal from such a horrible experience that happened at such a young age? Seriously - regardless of whether you are a man or a woman. I just can't even imagine. It has to be one of the most, horrendous, devastating, traumatizing things that occurs on this earth. These children were abused by the people in their lives who they were supposed to be able to look up to, the people who were supposed to keep them safe and protect them, the people who were supposed to love them. Parents. Teachers. Priests. Family. Friends.

It is ironic that I am blogging on this topic right after blogging on what "evil" means. Because, I tell you, child abuse (sexual or otherwise) is probably the most Evil thing I can think of - and that's Evil with a capital "E".

I understand the value of going through tests. I believe that many of the horrible things that happen in the world have a reason and a place in the grand scheme of things. I can have faith and trust in God in most all things in life. I can deal with murder. I can deal with infant mortality. I can deal with natural disasters. But this...I just don't know.

Healing from traumatic events is important, I am certain of that. And praying and meditating can help, I believe that too. But where do you begin to truly heal from something like that? How do you start? I am completely overwhelmed just trying to imagine how difficult it must be. How can you heal your inner child from something so hideous? I am really at a loss.

Any feedback, thoughts and/or support on this would be greatly appreciated.

"Therefore all they that devour thee shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee will I give for a prey.

For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after." (King James Bible, Jeremiah 30:16-17)

"...if one deals with objects of the sense
Not loving and not hating, making them
Serve his free soul, which rests serenely lord,
Lo! such a man comes to tranquillity;
And out of that tranquillity shall rise
The end and healing of his earthly pains,
Since the will governed sets the soul at peace." (Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold tr))

"Thy name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy. Nearness to Thee is my hope, and love for Thee is my companion. Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come. Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise." (Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, p. 262)


Anonymous said...

it is all part of the same plan. still have faith and trust. I still believe that we experience that which we are meant to heal.
My husband is a survivor of such abuse and in many ways I think it has made him a better man. We still struggle with issues. I was not sexually, but physically abused and eventually the bottom line is forgiveness.
We must forgive ourselves and the wrong doers. Only through completely love and forgiveness is true healing possible.
Read "The Cabin" I love how this author looks at it.
Much love and I will send healing thoughts out to all those that have suffered.

Janet Collins said...

Justin, I watched both Oprah episodes and like you, I was horrified and cried my eyes out through the whole thing. Although I don't know the names of each man in that show, I know God does and they have been in my prayer journal ever since I saw their face on national TV. Although I'm by far an expert, I agree with the Doctor on the show... healing comes in phases and there's a process. I was in a committed relationship with a man that suffered from physical child abuse from his father and I can tell you that when that kind of hurt is pushed down and hidden for years, it comes out in some terrible ways and usually is directed at those that are close to the person. My life has been altered because of what his father did to him and because he never healed, or knew how to heal.

I would hope and pray that anyone suffering from such a devastating, evil, situation would not allow the abuse to own them. They are bigger and better than the abuse and deserve so much more than allowing those circumstances to define them. My belief is that healing, true healing, from anything can only come from within and with Christ. If we live in the shame, the torment, the pain... we are simply allowing Satan to win.
God can use all of our scars for the better! Who knows, this person close to you could be the light of hope for someone else that may need someone that understands what they've been through. For me, anytime I've allowed my past hurts to be used for the good - there's a little bit of healing each time.

I am praying for your friend - for healing, for an amazing counselor to be placed in their life, for true love and friendships to abundantly flow, and for God's hand to be upon them each and every day to guide and lift them from a dark place and bring comfort to their soul.
I'm praying for you to simply be who God intended for you to be, who I know you are - an amazing, strong, selfless, caring man in this person's life that will encourage and love unconditionally.

Thank you for having the courage to blog this subject. I'm hopeful that something wonderful will come from it :)

Justin Johnson said...

Thank you both for your responses. This was very difficult to write about and your supportive and compassionate words were a God-send. Thank you and love you both!

Druzelle Cederquist said...

Hello Justin. Have you read the book "It's Not Your Fault" by Patricia Romano McGraw? Pat McGraw, a Baha'i, is a psychologist who counsels people that have endured the unimaginable. The women whose story she weaves into this book could not even talk to her for a long time.

The thing that stands out for me is her premise that healthy relationships are a necessary part of the healing process. While that can (and most likely should) include trained professionals, it can also include good, loving friends. I think it is a huge topic to consider how to be a true, authentic friend, especially to someone who has suffered trauma. I recommend Pat McGraw's book for its insights along this line.

In the larger picture, now that these secrets are being revealed, we can no longer ignore them as a society. These terrible hurts must motivate us to cleanse our environment at the deepest level.

Justin Johnson said...

Thank you SO MUCH Druzelle! I have not read this book, but I looked it up and am going to order it from Amazon first chance I get. It sounds awesome!

In the reviews of the book it says some stuff around how most people nowadays are told by self-help gurus that they just need to "be positive" and get "control over their emotions", etc. And that in this book Pat talks about how you can't overcome things like child abuse in those ways all on your own - you have to have the love and support of other people. I love that! It is something so very fundamental and true that is so often overlooked.

Thanks again for sharing and letting me know about that book!

Amber said...

Hi Justin,

I was sexually abused and physically tortured as a child, and here is my take on it:

I've come into awareness of three levels of reality so far about it.

There is a fundamental reality in which every single thing is made up, literally, of love. Right down to the very sounds you hear in the area surrounding you at this very moment. Not in a that's-a-nice-idea-but-no-cigar kind of way, but in the most tangible absolute sense of solid reality. Made of love.

Then, there is a kind of force...a kind of purpose that I am not separate from that I can feel that is propelling me forward and also kind of...springing to life all around me in my experience. There is something I've been trying to "get". A message to myself and something that I want to express. All at the same time. It has to do with the beauty, strength and eternal nature of my true love and true power. Who I really am.

My childhood experiences were horrific and placed me irrevocably upon a path in which I would not come out until I could find my true self and use it to find my way out of the dark. It was not easy. At one point, I was genuinely in fear that I didn't actually exist, and heartbroken over the sense of betrayal. My own love and heart were like a slap in the face - it was a self betrayal to love, as that love, I feared, was going to just be ripped away from me at death. It was, at its core, an experience in which I chose to love and to find love anyway.

That was the gift! I know. I know the nature of my love. I became so damaged as to lose most all anchors to "normal life" and most all feelings of worth and meaning; I was as alone as I could get. In the middle of the darkness, there I was, and I loved anyway. In that, I can find a genuine sense of strength and worth that can't be taken away.

Then, there is a third level of reality on it. And that is the practical, personality level. On this level, I don't need to take anyone's crap. Other people's messed up minds, intentions and actions are not my responsibility and they are not my fault. An abuser doesn't need compassion from the one who is abused. An abuser needs a hard kick in the genitals and maybe baseball bat across the face for good measure.

It's more than ok to be pissed. And no, I don't need to play miss down and dowdy to his helpless pervert.

It's a very hard balance....the truth is, I want to love and, of course, I am going to feel compassion for my abuser and seek to feel it. I don't like violence, goddammit! (see the joke? ;-) ). The anger I feel has been so hard to deal with. Just today I was weeping over a particularly nasty feeling inside that I still am trying to forgive and accept and at the same time remember who I really am.

But it's giving me something, too. In the end, Justin, I feel I am growing the capacity for genuinely empowered unconditional love - not the same thing as sweetness, love and light - but a real, down to earth strength in love that can express real beauty and real power.

Your friend can get through this. I know it. My heart and my love go out to you both.


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