February 13, 2018

“The” Two Most Effective Tools to Aid Your Recovery from Abuse

This week, we continue our series with Patrick Bennett, who shares about the two most important tools that help him leave the pain of the past behind him.

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The seaside village that was the centre of my childhood sits in the middle of the beautiful and rugged “Hook Peninsula” in county Wexford, Ireland and at its tip where the Atlantic meets the Irish sea sits the world famous “Hook Lighthouse”. 

Its beauty as far as the “Tourism blurb” promised a different beach every day for a fortnights vacation but, for the “Locals” who knew better -- it has so many,
many more. 

For me, its ultimate beauty was to be found laying on the cushioned fluffy grass beneath the lighthouse late at night and early morning and losing myself in the beams of light cutting through the heavenly blanket of stars and planets that lit up the night sky to a never-ending heartbeat of the oceans waves as they pounded the rocks and shoreline.

It was there that I discovered “The” two most important tools that proved so valuable and influential on my road to becoming more than just a survivor, to being me again! 

For so many years the beauty of the area was taken from me as there was literally not one place there that didn’t stir up memories, feelings, terrors of the horrific things that I and so many more of my friends were subjected to as young teenagers and so  I stayed away from the place, my friends, my family, forever running away from those same thoughts and feelings or at least trying to run away for over ten years only getting the courage, the overriding craving for just one night beneath that light house and cuddle myself up into the blanket of stars above on a handful of occasions when I was sure that I would be alone.

As I lay there thinking, reminiscing about times and friends long gone, I would inevitably bring to mind the horrors of my past but slowly and I don’t know why or from where, I began to let my mind and thoughts run free, to think about everything and nothing at all, just me, the grass, the ocean and the stars, nothing else really mattered which led me to realize that the hardest thing I was running from was not some demon, it was me. 

I was the one giving the power to my thoughts and my greatest fears, so I returned to my car and eventually I found the two most important tools I could ever dream of, a pencil and a piece of paper before returning to my blanket from heaven, let my mind drift away and started to write,
yes, write nothing more. 

After all the counselling, psychiatric treatments and medications, police and lawyers, it all came down to that realization that these two everyday items would prove to be so valuable and powerful.

With these two things and giving yourself the gift if even for a few minutes to let your mind go free and your thoughts drift away you can and will begin the greatest journey towards healing and recovery. Yes I know it won't be as easy as I say straight away and there will be times when things come up for you that cause great pain and suffering but trust me, I’ve been there and I know what that feels like, but if you stick with it you will amaze yourself at where your thoughts go and because you’ve written it all down you will be able to look back in years to come and be pleasantly surprised at the power you have within.

Personally I find it easier by the sea or a rippling stream as when, as I often do, I have bad experiences, I can just let them flow away in the flowing water but if that is not an option for you try finding some place that you feel safe, feel that you can just be yourself and allow your heart, body, mind and soul to breathe deeply, relax and drift away even if, as I say, its only for a minute or two but as you continue you will be pleasantly surprised how often and more readily these moments of freedom begin to appear.

So, when you have found your place of peace, settle down in whatever position is most comfortable for you, close your eyes and just breathe, slowly, gently and deeply for as long as you feel you need to be totally relaxed. Try to focus on absolutely nothing, just let your mind and thoughts drift away to where ever it wants to go and yes in the beginning this may mean visiting places you don’t particularly want to but go there anyway, don’t try to think about anything or anyone just drift away. 

Now instead of focusing on the darkness try to focus on what is going on around it, after all it’s not the place that hurt you, it was or is a person in a moment of time and like every moment of time, they pass in a fleeting second, the important thing is what that moment contains. 

What was the weather like? Was it sunny? If so how did the sun feel on your skin? Was it raining? If so describe the sound of the raindrops on the window? Was there a butterfly flying by? An apple pie baking in the oven? Describe how it smelt, its taste? Anything and everything that drifts into your thoughts, your mind, write them down, don’t worry about categorizing them or putting them in order, that can be done later. Just relax and remember you are free, free to remember and think about what you want and not what someone else wants you to. Its your power, take it back and never let it go. Just relax and breathe.

You see I look at it this way, yes bad things happen, happened to me but in the midst of that torture, that pain there was beauty and wonder all around me, from the oceans waves to the single butterfly or that apple pie, they are all things I missed because of my focus on what happened, but they were there all the same no matter how black the darkness may be. But always remember to write it down, every single thought or feeling, good or bad and when you are finished for that day store them away for awhile before going back to them and then noting anything new that may have come up again no matter be they good or bad things that you had forgotten, even the smallest detail which is the hidden gift in the midst of all of this as you can then empower yourself even further by presenting this new information to your counselor which will help your recovery even more and even to police or lawyers if you are in the process of seeking justice or bringing criminal charges.

Finally. Never stop writing, carry a small notepad and pen with you no matter how strange that may feel as you never know when something will crop up or you get an urge to write and over time you may as I do find yourself writing poetry, short stories or even your autobiography but that’s on your road to recovery and your choice to make because you will now have taken at least that piece of your power back and at the very least you will have a repertoire of happy memories and stories to tell instead of the darkkness

Stay safe and well,
Patrick    

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"The ruthless honesty of Mr. Bennett means that this is not a story with a sentimental and unambiguously happy ending. He is still on a journey that is sometimes difficult and painful, but he has shown remarkable courage, integrity and honesty and done the community a service by writing this extraordinary and valuable book."

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