August 15, 2017

The Art of Active Healing-Part III: Purpose

In this week's post with guest blogger, Jillian Short, we explore some practical ways to become "purposeful" in our healing.

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We’ve spent the last two weeks discussing the art of active healing. We touched on Denial and how this normal reaction serves to protect our bodies from damage—allowing us time to safely process. We then moved on to focus on Persepective, keeping in mind that so much of our wellbeing comes from how we feel or think about a circumstance or situation. Both of these—Denial and Perspective—provide physical aspects to our healing.

Just as other bodily symptoms/reactions are present with any illness or condition, in the same way our bodies answer our Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) with symptoms, reactions and responses. We can google “Diabetes” and read how to actively take charge of the management and treatment of this disease. We can readily learn how diet and exercise can prevent Type 2 diabetes from progressing and developing into Type 1—or worse. Through research, we now know that applying a holistic approach to managing diseases/illnesses can help create a much more successful outcome.

In our culture, we really aren’t taught to take an active role in the care of our mental, spiritual and emotional health. We are taught from childhood to supress and hide our adverse experiences—and the normal symptoms associated with our trauma—as if exhibiting our trauma somehow translates out to some innate weakness in our lives!! 

Oftentimes we find ourselves years down the road of life before we finally come to the realization that we actually matter. That our feelings matter. That our physical wellbeing is connected to our emotional health—or lack thereof! And this is the time to decide how we are going to move forward into an active partnership—bridging our physical self and our emotional/mental/spiritual self

It is during this season of awakening—the season of shedding the skin of our Denial—that we often experience our greatest onset of symptoms and “issues”. With proper perspective, we can make a choice to view this season in our lives as productive and necessary. We are literally taking back the ground that was taken from us—and it is time! 

Accepting—realizing—that our symptoms (and reactions) have been normal responses to our trauma is the most important healing step we may have ever taken! This realization may be accompanied by a feeling of liberation and freedom—or you may find yourself incredibly emotional and sad. Sad for all that has been lost. 

It is imperative that we grasp the idea of “rehab” and what that means/looks like. Let's imagine this scenario: an Olympian runner loses both his legs and is not expected to walk again, let alone run.  But more than anything he wants to run again, so he decides to go for it with all his heart. He puts the huge, nearly impenetrable goal of competing again in the forefront of his mind, and now he eats, sleeps and breathes his goals—his purpose. He begins to measure everything he eats. He writes out his goals. He hires a specialized trainer. He puts pictures of runners all over his house--on his fridge, above his toilet, in his car. He sits in bed at night and reads running magazines. He lifts weights. But more importantly he plans and anticipates his SUCCESS.


Successful rehab and treatment is always accompanied by hard work and "pre-commitment". We must choose to surround ourselves with strength and wholeness—to hunker down and do whatever is necessary to be well and happy. The first step in that direction is giving yourself permission to be happy. Especially for survivors of child sexual abuse, it's easy to believe we are not worthy to be truly happy. Guilt holds us back. Our memories chain us to the wall of indecisiveness. Growth seems to elude us, mostly because of our fear of change, our fear of responsibility and our fear of success. And strangely, sometimes it's just more comfortable to stay anchored to our excuses, fear and/or indecision.

During my awakening stage, I found it very helpful to write in a journal. I bought a new notebook that was small enough to easily carry with me in my purse. I actively wrote out my thoughts, plans and goals, lists of changes I wanted to make, verses, quotes and poems, letters to God (sometimes angry, sometimes full of hope and faith) and my exercise and diet goals. This is a practice I continue to embrace to this day.

On a practical level, here are a few “on purpose” steps you can take to help achieve mental balance and happiness:
  1. Join a positive support group
  2. Seek a coach or therapist you feel comfortable with
  3. Remove negative friends/family members from your sphere of influence
  4. Go through your list of TV shows—break free from any that are trashy or negative.
  5. Make a list of movies/books that bring back the happy “child” in you. Go on a quest to watch/read each one you can get your hands on!
  6. Begin an exercise regimen—including time for quiet walks and peaceful deep breathing!
  7. Commit to healthy eating—and throw in some great ambience whenever possible! Candles, a gorgeous view…and every now and then, enjoy a perfect dessert with someone you love!
  8. With the help of your doctor, decide to take active inventory—and active control—of your medications.
  9. Take steps to gain control over any addictions or dependencies you may have acquired. You deserve to be whole and well.
  10. Get up earlier—or go to bed earlier. 
  11. Reclaim your faith!
  12. Hug your loved ones!
  13. Give forgiveness a chance. At this point, you are only hurting yourself by allowing “them” to retain their hold on you. You deserve happiness—and they don’t have any right to control you! Not anymore, and not ever again! 
  14. Rejoice in your freedom!
  15. Look yourself in the eye—in the mirror—and be proud of who you are. Promise yourself that you will begin to care more deeply for your health. Make a choice to celebrate the things about yourself that you can’t change.
  16. Remove negative talk from your vocabulary. Speak the words you would say to your own child. Words of hope. Words of empowerment and confidence that they can "be whoever they want to be" or "achieve whatever they put their mind to".
  17. Reach out to others! Find a community outreach program or activity that interests you and get involved. You have no idea how much of a blessing you could be to someone else! Your past experiences will be a huge source of blessing and encouragement to those you meet! 

Viewing your healing as purposeful rehab can be very empowering. And that is exactly what this is. REHAB. You can’t go back and undo what happened to you. There is no magic to completely erase the painful memories or the fall-out of your abuse. So viewing your healing as rehab—learning to successfully readjust your life and re-route your thought processes—is crucial to your wellness. 


Living on purpose starts from the inside and flows outward. The most important “next step” you can ever take is that of shifting your heart toward the idea of Purpose—and this begins from the realization that you are still here for a reason—and that you matter.  






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As a very young child, I was subjected to sexual abuse until I was seven. When I was twelve, my parents and I went to Micronesia as missionaries with Evangelism Missions Inc. I loved it! I learned the language, embraced the culture, and eventually became interpreter for our mission church. My abuse became a distant memory—buried and unaddressed.

Years later, still deep in the clutches of my church affiliation, I married a man who was physically abusive—with the church’s backing—under the doctrine of “Biblical Patriarchy”. Then the unthinkable happened. I discovered my children were being sexually abused. My world crashed around me.

I wish I could say I was strong and tenacious. I wasn’t. The knowledge of my children’s abuse filled me with such pain I could barely function. Guilt engulfed me. How could this have happened? I’d been abused myself—Shouldn’t I have been able to recognize the signs? This trauma triggered my own unresolved past, resulting in PTSD and severe anxiety disorder. The lack of support from our friends—especially within the church—astounded me. We were told to forgive and honor our abuser. They strictly instructed us to be silent, even telling us not to press charges, stating that “speaking out about our abuse gave the church—and thus, Jesus Christ—a bad name”. He only served an 18-month sentence. After his release, he was brought back into church leadership.

I left my toxic church—and my marriage—and began the slow, upward path toward recovery. My children began to truly heal. I was amazed to learn more about Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and its effects on us as adults. I surrounded myself with life-changing resources—and positive support.

Today, I am a court-certified translator/interpreter, co-owner of a real estate investment company, and the founder/CEO of Always a Voice®. I am the International Spokesperson for Stop the Silence® and an Advocate/Ambassador with the CSA Survivor Force, a national media outreach group under Stop the Silence®/NAASCA (http://www.naasca.org/StopTheSilence/ or https://stopthesilence.org/csa-survivor-force/). I have a degree in Counseling/ Biblical Theology and use my experiences to offer hope and encouragement to other survivors.

I am happily remarried and my family is thriving—more than I would have thought possible! My children have gone on to use their own voices through music, dance, art, education. Some are directly fighting against sex-trafficking and child abuse.

My passion and goal is to empower those who have no voice--or those just finding their voices--and to raise awareness on how to better recognize signs of abuse and how to combat precise issues/problems relating to the “fall out” of trauma. My next book, “This Little Plight of Mine©” (late 2017) speaks out against what I now define as “Church-Sanctioned Abuse©”.

I am committed to use my voice (through media, newspaper, and radio), on a global level, to stop the silence and perpetuation of abuse and trauma “one person, one dream, one step, one leap at a time.”




1 comment:

  1. Brava Jillian!!! From another survivor/thriver/inspirer and author, thank you for the work you do!
    Katia Cooper

    ReplyDelete

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