August 22, 2017

The Art of Active Healing-Part IV: Empowerment

In this week's post with guest blogger, Jillian Short, we conclude by exploring how healing can be an act of art and creation!

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During this four-part series, we have touched on Denial and how this normal reaction served to protect our bodies from damage, allowing us time to safely process. We moved on to Persepective and how our sense of wellness is tied largely to the way we feel or think about a circumstance or situation. Last week we looked at Purpose—how we actively bridge the gap between our past and our future.  All three of these—Denial, Perspective and Purpose—are progressive aspects within our healing process.

Every one of us are living with befores and afters. We are living in the present, yet daily we must deal with the fallout of what was before.  Sometimes we forget that each day is an after—a sequel that hasn’t happened yet.  Our healing journeys—our todays—are not hopelessly fused to the traumas we experienced in the past. Each new day is a separate entity. As a fellow survivor of abuse, trauma, depression, anxiety and disillusionment, I speak out boldly on this subject, and only do so with compassion and understanding. 

This week we are approaching the idea of Empowerment as it pertains to our past abuse and our ongoing healing.  For today, rather than thinking of healing in a passive sense, I want us to look at the idea of healing as an active, hands-on, cooperative and powerful ART

“Empowerment” is just a fancy word for harnessing the power we already have. This is where the idea of Art comes in—again. Merriam Webster defines “art” this way:  

art
√§rt/ 

noun

Skill acquired by experience, study, or observation; the conscious use of creative imagination; Something that is created to express important ideas or feelings;
The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power;

There is strength in facing your own pain and asking hard questions…and being willing to do the work to find the answers. There is power in honesty, straightforwardness and telling it like it is—first to yourself.  The long-quoted verse says it so perfectly, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32).  The word “shall”, in the original Greek, is progressive.  It’s literally saying “Continue to know, to learn, to grasp, to embrace TRUTH…and this truth—that which you are grabbing hold of—shall set you free.”

The decision to embrace the truth of your worth is powerful—and totally crucial to your wellness.  Even just the desire to want to—that may be all you have to give right now.  If that’s all you have, take it and run! Grab hold of it! The turning point in my life came at an incredibly low point.  There were no trumpets or bolts of lightning.  In reality, it was a quiet time of true agony. But in that lowest of moments, I came to truly accept the truth. The truth that I was created beautiful and worthwhile. I am unique. I am worth fighting for. I have so much to share with the world. I was born on March 30th because that was my special day. I was given specific—special—tools to use in my life to create a masterpiece. My masterpiece!

Viewing healing as an art takes all the passivity away—all the feelings of being out of control—and allows us to mentally see ourselves holding our own paintbrush. To see our own worth.

Mental images (such as this) are so important for survivors of child sexual abuse/trauma! When we purposely fill our minds with positive images, we are actively counteracting the bad memories that are chaining us to the wall. These negative memories are holding us captive—and it’s time to change that!!


My life-canvas (and yours) is comprised of many colors and tones and shades. I choose to firmly hold my paintbrush and daily make a conscious decision to envision the beautiful person I see inside my soul. This isn’t about conjuring up power. This isn’t about acting or pretending. This is about accepting myself and allowing myself to be who I was created to be. 

I want to make sure we fully grasp this. I purposely used the word “accept” here (please go back and read the last paragraph again) because we already know the truth. We already have incredible ability and strength within us!  We really have no idea how much we are capable of!  How much we already know! We have no idea just how impactful our lives are—and can be!!

Do you see how true “power” has nothing to do with those people who hurt you?  They have no power over you.  You’ve allowed them to hurt you long enough. It is time to rise up out of the debris of debilitation and begin to breathe again.

Let’s face it.  This debris surrounding us isn’t exactly pretty! As we begin to rise up out of our trauma and pain, we are often bombarded by the reality of our “fallout”. This in and of itself can be enough to slap us right back down into it again.  This is where ART comes in to play.  Each day, each moment, we have the same choice.  Sometimes our past hurts more than others.  Sometimes bad memories surface and crowd in—but this does not change our worth.  It does not alter who I are.  And today—again and again—we have the choice to choose truth.

Choosing truth is just that. It is a decision to be right where you are. Sometimes truth means you need to stop and take a deep breath and say, “ouch, this hurts.” Never ever put yourself down for your feelings!!! They are real.  Consciously make the decision to affirm your feelings.  Then, after allowing yourself to hurt (or be angry or whatever feeling you are dealing with), make a decision to believe in who you are

I found the strength to breathe deeply and allow myself to live again.  That’s what I had been missing!  It was the absense of truly LIVING. I had been existing, just hoping to make it through another day.  As I was able to actually embrace my own worth—as my Creator intended—I began to see my past differently.  I began to see many wonderful and useable tools hiding within my “debris pile”!  I realized over time that the fire had only refined my tools—not destroyed them!!

As I began to rise in strength, much like the phoenix, I was able to see my inner beauty and purpose.  And without even realizing it, I was now living out the essense of empowerment.    I  was actively creating my after


You are not the pain of your past. You are not broken. You are not the actual debris.  The debris and brokenness may be all around you, but YOU are the artist. You are here for a reason.

“The pearl is the oyster's autobiography." Federico Fellini

Living on purpose starts from the inside and flows outward. Truly the most important decision you will ever make is that of shifting your heart toward the idea of Purpose—choosing life and worth—and this begins from the realization that you are here for a reason—and that you matter. What will flow from this is EMPOWERMENT.  







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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.”



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