Category: Changes that Heal


dearest little ss,

for so long now, i have avoided looking at you. your eyes, they are mine, the same steel blue. the same pain runs through them into my soul. your freckles, i have them too. those scars, look here. see, feel. they are there, we share the same heart and the same pain. the same memories run through our veins. we are one, you and i.

i am older; i grew up. i can protect you now. i’m sorry that i couldn’t then. i am with you. i can see you. i can feel you. i can hear you. i am listening. take my hand. hold onto me. i will help you out of the darkness. i will guide you, protect you, love you.

precious one, you are not undone. your life has only just begun. look to the stars, look to the sun. i am here, little one.

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Another thought occurred to me this morning that I’d like to share in relation to this topic of “abuse” and “abusive” behavior. For many of us who have struggled with understanding these terms, one of the biggest “lies” we accept is that just because we do not have “many physical scars,” somehow that means we were not abused or our abuse wasn’t severe.

In conjunction with this, we also struggle because many adult survivors of child abuse do have happy memories of their families. We ask ourselves how can people who created such good memories in our childhoods also create such heartache and violence. There are no easy answers for the survivor.

We minimize the events of our childhoods, sometimes blocking them out all together in our effort to survive. We press our feelings down so far that the events become like pebbles in our mind. In reality, they are large, jagged boulders, but we have believed the lies so long that we cannot see the reality of our past. Often times, we are not ready to see it for what it was- tragic.

When we come to counseling and begin therapy, the process is painful. We are asked to bring in pictures of us as children, to confront and reassure our inner child, to dredge up the past bit by bit. The pain seems endless, robbing us of functionality for a time after each memory surfaces.

Therapists gently push us through this stage, for they understand what we cannot- to stay in this state of recovering memories would render us incapable of living. It is an ugly, heart wrenching process, and so to spare us additional pain, they prod us on week after week until we are empty of the memories, the purging complete. Only then can we begin to tackle each brick of our past and find healing. Only after we have acknowledged the horrors and owned them as our own, can we begin on the journey to wholeness.

Acknowledging the abuse happened to us, and not some detached version of our former selves hurts, because with this acknowledgement we feel, perhaps for the first time, the pain as our own. It didn’t happen to the child we were or the stranger from our past, it happened to us. Feeling this is both essential and cruel. The pain would be unbearable if it were not for the hope of recovery and healing. Admitting that we were abused and understanding the gravity of that abuse produces in the survivor both sadness and acceptance. From this place, we begin to move forward….

I am reading a book by Dr. Henry Cloud titled Changes that Heal. The book emphasizes bonding, boundaries, and grace, truth, and time as agents which bring about change and healing in those who struggle with depression or a less than ideal past.

One of the most difficult parts of the book is the use of words like “abuse” and “abusive”. The abused struggles to categorize behavior as abusive, wrong, overstepping boundaries, violating the self. We question if the actions perpetrated against us are truly wrong or if we just have wrong perceptions. We often wonder if the events or actions actually occurred or if our minds are turning against us. For the abused, “abuse” and “abusive” are grey areas which we cannot define.

What defines sexual abuse? Is it the act of forcing one to have relations against their will? Certainly. But what about the married man whose wife treats him like an object and only uses him for her own pleasure with no consideration of his needs or limits, or the child whose grandfather makes her uncomfortable when he kisses her goodbye and does so on the mouth? What about the grey areas? The things that make us FEEL wrong, but lie within the boundaries of familial relationships? Are these abusive too? One would not deny that they are traumatic to the person experiencing them, but defining them as abuse is much more difficult, especially for the abused.

If we say that abuse is something which makes one feel violated and has at its core a selfish motive, then what is abuse to one person may not be abuse to another. This removes the objectivity. What happens then when an abused person takes the case to court and the judge does not feel that the actions perpetraited against him qualify as abuse? So, clearly, this is a complicated issue. There is no list defining abuse by the acts that have been perpetrated across time. It is something the abused must rectify and work out in his own mind, a puzzle to be strung together like any other puzzle in life. It’s no wonder that books on healing bring about such confusion in the mind of the abused, when we struggle to even define and apply the terms used therein. Just some food for thought on this Friday morning as I continue reading about boundaries of the physcial body.

I am reading a book by Dr. Henry Cloud titled Changes that Heal. The book emphasizes bonding, boundaries, and grace, truth, and time as agents which bring about change and healing in those who struggle with depression or a less than ideal past.

One of the most difficult parts of the book is the use of words like “abuse” and “abusive”. The abused struggles to categorize behavior as abusive, wrong, overstepping boundaries, violating the self. We question if the actions perpetrated against us are truly wrong or if we just have wrong perceptions. We often wonder if the events or actions actually occurred or if our minds are turning against us. For the abused, “abuse” and “abusive” are grey areas which we cannot define.

What defines sexual abuse? Is it the act of forcing one to have relations against their will? Certainly. But what about the married man whose wife treats him like an object and only uses him for her own pleasure with no consideration of his needs or limits, or the child whose grandfather makes her uncomfortable when he kisses her goodbye and does so on the mouth? What about the grey areas? The things that make us FEEL wrong, but lie within the boundaries of familial relationships? Are these abusive too? One would not deny that they are traumatic to the person experiencing them, but defining them as abuse is much more difficult, especially for the abused.

If we say that abuse is something which makes one feel violated and has at its core a selfish motive, then what is abuse to one person may not be abuse to another. This removes the objectivity. What happens then when an abused person takes the case to court and the judge does not feel that the actions perpetraited against him qualify as abuse? So, clearly, this is a complicated issue. There is no list defining abuse by the acts that have been perpetrated across time. It is something the abused must rectify and work out in his own mind, a puzzle to be strung together like any other puzzle in life. It’s no wonder that books on healing bring about such confusion in the mind of the abused, when we struggle to even define and apply the terms used therein. Just some food for thought on this Friday morning as I continue reading about boundaries of the physcial body.