Growing Pains

I never imagined how therapeutic writing would be for me as I worked through my issues, my fears and insecurities. All I knew was that I needed to vent. Writing used to be an outlet for me when I was young, but after becoming a wife and mother I put it aside. I hadn’t realized how much it helped me back then, and how it still does now.

Anyways, I read about the growing pains children go through the other day, and it made me think about the pain we go through when growing emotionally. At my first therapist appt., this past spring, I was told that I had stopped growing emotionally after my first trauma. Hearing that, hurt. The thought of me acting like a little girl, emotionally, was hard to swallow, but I had to take that information, process it, take a step back, and do some self examining. She was right. My decisions were not always based on reason or knowledge, but more on how I felt; much how children make decisions because they lack maturity and knowledge!

When knowledge and emotional maturity connect you have a wise person, but when they don’t you have a fool. A fool doesn’t learn from his mistakes, not because he doesn’t have the mental capacity to learn, but because he’s thinking with his emotions. It’s like riding a horse without the reigns to steer it, or stop it! We are letting our emotions steer us in directions that could be detrimental to us and our family. In our society today, it’s acceptable to follow your heart, to leave reason aside. That serves well if it’s the basis of a story, but making decisions based simply on how we feel, leads to a lot of heartache, because we don’t stop to think of the consequences.

So here I was faced with a challenge. What was I gonna do? How was I going to mature emotionally? I didn’t have the answer for myself, and I couldn’t ask people to teach me (at least it’s not something I feel is appropriate to ask others). It’s like asking to be taught common sense! If I was stuck at three, then I had to face the why and heal that part of me so I could move on. And it hasn’t been a, “ok, I’ve dealt with this, now I’m four or five”, set of steps. I realize it’s a process that will require alot of patience on my part. On the days when it seems like the changes can’t come fast enough, I have to remind myself that at least I’m not in denial anymore and everyday that passes is further away from where I was stuck before.

What is it taking to mature? Discipline, alot of self discipline. Not the kind that makes you feel crushed and worthless, but the kind that helps you develop healthy boundaries, and to learn more about yourself. I don’t view discipline in a negative way anymore. If we’re never corrected, how do we learn? But if it’s done in a harsh way, it won’t accomplish what we want. The basis of discipline should be love. Sure, people can make others do what they want when they use force and threats, but they do so in a resentful and fearful state of mind.

I’m not using threats and fear to discipline the little girl in me. I realize now, that fear is what kept me from maturing in the first place! I’m becoming a nurturer, with myself and hopefully soon with others. The process is at times painful but worth it; if in the end it means I finally become an adult in the fullest sense of the word.

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Where to Start

Ways To Recover From Abuse

  • Remembering and acknowledging the abuse
  • Grieving over the abuse
  • Talking out one’s feelings with a supportive listener
  • Overcoming feelings of guilt and shame
  • Coming to terms with one’s parents
  • Applying Bible principles to change destructive behavior
  • Healing unhealthy sexual feelings
  • Developing healthy personal and moral boundaries
  • Developing a close relationship with God and fellow Christians

Releasing the Past

Memories are usually released over a period of weeks, months, or years. Each emerging  memory may bring on a temporary crisis. The Right to Innocence says that at times “you may feel like you are backsliding. You aren’t. You are getting better. In actuality, you have gained the strength necessary to face deeper, even more painful feelings and awarenesses.” With good reason, recovering may temporarily become a person’s all consuming concern.

Some victims find it beneficial to read or hear the expressions of other victims. Looking at family photos, visiting childhood sites, and talking to supportive friends and family members may also stir up memories. Writing about ones’ thoughts and emotions is also helpful. The goal of bringing up memories is to release them so the victim can heal, and move on. Prayer is also a powerful tool at our disposal and equally, if not more so, helpful.

 

This advice became especially useful to me when I was finally ready to start the process of purging the past and coming to terms with my abuse. Fear was no longer an option for me, it had paralyzed me far too long. I couldn’t bear the thought of further hurting my relationships and risk losing what I most loved.

Don’t let fear continue to overpower you, it’s an unmerciful master that will eventually destroy you.