Together We Heal

Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse. We are here to provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal, give direction to those seeking guidance and to expose sexual predators for what they are and their methods of getting into our lives.


9 Comments

When It Comes To Love, 3 Is The Magic Number!

I have often wondered why so many things in history, our world and in spirituality seem to revolve around the number three. This is NOT a discussion of theology, simply a series of analogous citations for emphasis. Neither am I a numerologist, I just came to a deeper understanding of human nature through a series of questions that brought me to this conclusion. So with an open spirit, indulge me and I believe you will find some truth of your own.

– God’s attributes are three: omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.
– God sent three messengers to Abraham.
– Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
– Jesus Christ was resurrected on the 3rd day.
– The Holy Trinity: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
– In Muslim devotional rites, certain formulas are repeated three times.
– A devout Muslim tries to make a pilgrimage to all three holy cities in Islam: Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem.

Moving away from religion we find it’s significance elsewhere in the natural world, science and math, language, even how we quantify our own time and lifespan with the number of three.

– Thought, word, and deed, complete the sum of human capability.
– Three propositions are necessary to complete the simplest form of argument–the major premiss, the minor, and the conclusion.
– Three kingdoms embrace our ideas of matter–mineral, vegetable, and animal.
– Time is divided into three portions: The past, the present, and the future.
– We designate three phases of our existence: Birth, Life, and Death.

So I found it interesting one day when I learned that a three-legged chair, or stool, is more stable than a four-legged chair. A three-legged chair is guaranteed not to wobble, because the ends of its legs always form a plane. But why is that?

In Geometry, a plane may be considered as an infinite set of points forming a connected flat surface extending infinitely far in all directions. A plane has infinite length and infinite width. I know, I know, boring nerdy stuff, but IMMENSELY important because it deals with love!

In this number we have quite a new set of phenomena. We come to the first geometrical figure. Two straight lines cannot possibly enclose any space, or form a plane figure; neither can two plan surfaces form a solid. Three lines are necessary to form a plan figure; and three dimensions of length, breadth, and height, are necessary to form a solid. Hence three is the symbol of the cube–the simplest form of solid figure. As two is the symbol of the square, or plane contents (x2), so three is the symbol of the cube, or solid contents (x3).

Three, therefore, stands for that which is solid, real, substantial, complete, and entire.

I tell you this so you will understand there are quantifiable mathematical reasons for the “stability” or “completeness” of the number three, as well as ancient mysticism, spirituality and religion.

So, you ask, who cares? There is a very good reason. Do you want to have a better relationship with your spouse, partner, friends or coworkers? Then understand the importance of three. We are made up of three: our body, mind, and spirit. And without any one of those being whole, we are incomplete.

In our relationships, when we bond with others in all three areas, with these main areas being of common ground and goals, there is a much greater chance of success.

Body – Enjoy similar types of lifestyle, whether it be active or sedentary, staying at home or traveling, going for walks/bike rides or sitting inside watching movies.

Mind – Politically, socially compatible doesn’t mean agreeing on everything or believing exactly the same way, just that if it’s important to one it’s important to the other.

Spirit – Common faith or following. A similar set of values, principles or core belief structure.

When any one of these, or more, are sacrificed for the purpose of being in the company of another, the relationship, no matter how serious, will most likely fail.

In my life there have been moments where I so longed for the affection of another I would sacrifice one of these components. In one instance, I gave up all hope of having a spiritual connection with my girlfriend because she had no belief in a higher power. At no point growing up was she encouraged to seek out a divine of any kind. To the contrary, her mother told her it was for fools. So eventually, this lack of faith became our downfall. It’s in those trying times that we of faith tend to lean most heavily upon it, and when my significant other had none, we had no place to turn for support. The result was an utter collapse.

In another attempt for loving companionship, I gave up all of my own personal goals and ambitions to support hers. I got her though nursing college, had her on her way to a masters program, and then when I expressed my desire, even made plans to move forward with it, she called at 2 a.m. from the hospital she worked and said, “I’m not going to help you get your masters degree. I don’t love you anymore and I want a divorce.” It was clear afterword that she probably never really loved me, just used me to get what she wanted and when I no longer was willing to serve her purpose, I was discarded.

That being said, I’m not saying that opposites can’t attract. I have an amazing example of a lifelong love, 54 years to be exact, of two people who couldn’t have been more different. He was 36, she was 18 when they married. He was a yellow-dog democrat, she a diehard republican. He was career military, having served in the Army Air Corps, then the Air Force through WWII, Korea and as a Civilian Aid stateside during the Vietnam War. She was a bit of a rebel for her day, having had a child out of wedlock before my grandaddy came along. Scandalous for its time!

The end result was a marriage that lasted until my grandaddy passed at the age of 90. While they had their share of arguments, disagreements and outright fights (nothing physical mind you, only verbal), the one constant was their love for each other and all of us kids. Three girls, plus the girl my granny had before, five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. We have more now, but that was our family population total at grandaddy’s funeral. And they showed us that love through self-sacrifice, setting an example of a positive work ethic and a never ending reminder to love one another.

The one thing I heard my grandaddy say over and over and over was to make sure to love your brothers and sisters, your cousins, aunts and uncles, and take care of each other, because one day that’s all you’ll have.

And that’s why we have the family bond we do today. And the relationships we have as well. That’s not to say there haven’t been some trial and error along the way. But when we had a misstep, they were right there to help pick us up, dust us off and see us on our way again. As he often said, there’s no harm in failing, only failing to try.

They loved their yard work, they were both up at the crack of dawn and early to bed. While politically polarized, they taught us the ability to debate your position while listening to what the other had to say. They both had a devout belief in an almighty and practiced not with lofty prayers and donations that added wings to church buildings. No, they built their faith within each and every one of the hearts of their children.

That is what I meant about having those THREE COMMON GROUNDS. The REAL stuff. The meat of the relationship. And they had that down pat. They had ideological differences but their ideals were the same. Their main goal was the same—to raise a loving family. And that doesn’t mean we always get along, but in the end, even in moments when we don’t necessarily like each other, we always love each other. And that’s the key.

To have that love, maintain that love and never quit on it. Quitting is easy, fighting for what’s good is challenging. But so worth it.

So work on something we get from a combination of ancient Greek philosophers and William Shakespeare, “Know thyself….and to thine own-self be true, thou canst then not be false to any man.” Once you do this you will find yourself in a position of stability, to truly know and love another. And then don’t quit when it gets tough. Use the example of my grandparents. What they had was solid, real, substantial, complete, and lasted their entire lives. They must have been doing something right!

——————————
References:

The Suda

Hamlet, William Shakespeare

E. W. Bullinger

The Holy Bible

The Quran

The Torah

MSgt. Eddie R. Pittman

Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian


23 Comments

I’ve Got Abandonment Issues

This week we conclude our 3-part series with Rachel Grant as she provides insight on the topic of abandonment. Whether you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse or not, this is a subject that many folks experience at some point in their lives. If you have or know someone who has, you will benefit from her wisdom. Thank you so much Rachel for blessing us with your words and your spirit.
—————————–

Abandon: to leave completely and finally, forsake utterly, desert, to give up, discontinue, withdraw from, withdraw protection or support

When it comes to abandonment, we are very much driven by a fear of the unknown. We do not know if the people we are connecting to may one day withdraw their protection or support. They may “forsake” us, and not just a little, but utterly. The greater the connection, the greater the risk, because we have more at stake should the person choose to walk away.

In an effort to alleviate this terrible sense of “not knowing,” we will often do a variety of things. We will over-control, seek constant reassurance, or be on high alert for anything that looks like withdrawal. Worst-case scenario, as soon as we start to feel close, we will push away and sabotage the relationship.

The fear of abandonment is extremely common in those of us who have been abused. We have experienced very real and tangible abandonment, the loss of protection by those who were supposed to care for us. Unfortunately, we then begin living as if this is going to be the case with everyone we come across.

For quite a long time, I had the false belief that “people always leave.” As a result, guess what, people around me often didn’t stick around for long, because I would pretty much act in a way that ensured they would not want to! It is hard to acknowledge, but we have to be straight about the role we play that leads us to re-create the experience of being abandoned over and over again.

Earlier, I gave you just the first part of the definition of abandonment. Here is the rest:

To give up the control of, to yield (oneself) without restraint or moderation

When I read this, I thought, “Hmm, maybe I need to abandon myself to abandonment!” Our relationships can thrive if we are willing to shift our focus and energy away from trying to prevent the withdrawal of others and enter into an open, free space, where we are present to the fact that they are here with us right now, in this moment. Instead of maneuvering to try to get some guarantee that they will always be here no matter what, we can appreciate the person for being here right now.

The point is, that fear of abandonment keeps us so focused on the future “what ifs” that we miss out on what is happening right now. Another, and more tragic, outcome is that we behave so poorly as a result of our fear, that we pretty much guarantee that things will fall apart.

There is no getting away from taking risks in relationships. We can, however, learn to take calculated risks. This means we have to get out of the nasty habit of connecting to others who are so high risk that we are pretty much setting ourselves up for failure.

One client, intent on maneuvering to get some guarantee that his girlfriend would never leave, would text her every couple of hours to keep tabs on her. If he did not get an immediate response, his meaning making machine would immediately kick into gear, leading him to thoughts such as “She must be with someone else.” As we worked together to challenge his false beliefs, he first had to acknowledge that, while it was possible that she was with someone else, it was unlikely given all of the experiences they had shared. Furthermore, her actions time and again indicated she was committed. The risk he was taking in trusting her therefore seemed well calculated. We then decided that he must hit the pause button (no meaning making) for four hours after sending a text and would limit his texting to three times a day. Over time, his fear and anxiety gradually abated and he was able to form a deeper bond based on trust and respect rather than fear and anxiety.

We need to practice giving up trying to control the future and remain in the present moment. We also need to give some thought to the types of risks we are taking—are they measured (even if still daring) or just playing with fire?

REFLECTION
1. Who abandoned you and how did they abandon you?
2. What have you come to believe about people and relationships as a result?
3. What do you do to protect yourself from being abandoned?
4. How can you shift your focus from trying to control future outcomes to what is happening right now?
5. How do you know if you are taking a calculated risk or not?

Rachel Grant is the owner and founder of Rachel Grant Coaching and is a Trauma Recovery & Relationship Coach. She is also the author of BeyondSurviving: The Final Stage in Recovery from Sexual Abuse. With her support, clients learn to identify and break patterns of thought and behavior that keep them from recovering from past sexual abuse or making changes in their relationships.

Rachel holds an M.A. in Counseling Psychology. With this training in human behavior and cognitive development, she provides a compassionate and challenging approach for her clients while using coaching as opposed to therapeutic models. Rachel is a member of the International Coach Federation & San Francisco Coaches.

Learn more at http://www.rachelgrantcoaching.com


6 Comments

Learn To Trust Others

Today I am happy to present Part II of Rachel Grant’s discussion of “Trust”. Last week there was an overwhelming response on how she addressed “Trusting Yourself”, and I know this week will be no different as she covers “Trusting Others”. Continue to be inspired by her words. Listen with an open spirit and heart. Thank you Rachel.

The last time I wrote, I shared some thoughts on trusting yourself. Now, let’s turn our attention to trusting others. You may still have some work to do to trust yourself, but there is no time like the present to begin transforming your relationships!

For me, the impact of not trusting others was that I walked around guarded all of the time. It was as if I was operating behind a piece of gauze; I remained fuzzy to others and others remained fuzzy to me. I was never able to experience real connection or intimacy.

To move you along toward breaking out from behind your walls, veils, protections, let’s start by simply exploring what it is you think it means to trust someone in the first place.

To develop an ability to trust others, we must learn how to determine who is trustworthy. One of the biggest mistakes we make when determining who is trustworthy is looking for the qualities in others that we ourselves lack. Consider, for example, that we have a very hard time getting projects done on time. This is a quality that we would say a trustworthy person would possess. So, when working with others on a team, we label the woman who is able to get things done on time as trustworthy. Never mind the fact that she cheats on her taxes. The point is we are so focused on the qualities that we lack that we misjudge the character of another person whenever they possess those qualities.

As a result of abuse, our “trust meter” is a bit off balance. We have it tilted way over to not trusting, trusting too easily, or remain apathetic about it, never really connecting or pushing away others. So, how can we give our trust meter a tune-up and rebalance it?

First, we need to challenge our general understanding of what trust is. Regardless of what you have thought it means, I want you to try on a new understanding of trust.

• Trust is not about judging the character and quality of another person.
• We do not come to trust a person as a whole.
• Rather, we come to trust the person to honor a specific commitment.
• No one is 100 percent trustworthy.

Remember the example of the team member who finishes her work on time, but cheats on her taxes? She is completely trustworthy when it comes to completing tasks on time. She is not trustworthy when it comes to dealing with the IRS. For any given person, there is always some commitment we can trust, but there is always another we cannot. This is why trust is not about judging the character or quality of a person, but rather judging and evaluating the commitments you can trust the person to honor.

When relating to others, we should seek to know the difference between commitments likely to be honored and those that likely will not. We want to understand what sorts of commitments a person follows through on more often than not and hope that these line up with what is important to us. This will vary by person and by commitment.

Our job then is to decide whether or not to trust someone by considering their behavior and speech as signals of their beliefs, values, and intentions, which are all indications of what commitments they are willing to keep, how often, and for how long. Keep in mind that behavior is a much better indicator than what people say.

Let’s bring this all together with a familiar example: the friend who always cancels at the last minute.

You have just begun a new friendship with Greg and he seems like a great guy. Friendly, down-to-earth, smart, and the two of you just seem to click. You have gone out a few times and really enjoyed yourselves, that is, when he manages to show up. Though Greg said he was really looking forward to dinner tonight, he just texted to say he can’t make it. This is about the fifth time this has happened.

Can you trust Greg to keep his commitment to show up for events? Nope.

Can you trust Greg to be present, fun, and enjoyable when you are together? Yes.

Can you trust Greg overall? It depends on what you value more. No one is 100 percent trustworthy, but the scale can tip in one direction or the other. For one person, Greg canceling is in such contradiction to their own values that the scale tips toward untrustworthy. For another person, the quality of the time they have when they are together is more important, and so the scale tips in the other direction toward trustworthy.

Moreover, we must come to understand that trust is not an all-or-nothing deal. We can trust someone in a few minor ways and still enjoy them. We may have others in our lives who we trust more deeply and for a greater number of things. It is important to move away from the trap of thinking that each person in our life must be trusted at the same level.

Once we have developed a healthy trust meter, we will be able to determine where someone falls on this spectrum based on which commitments we come to believe they will keep and relate to them accordingly.

Oh, and the bad news is…
In case you missed it, there is no such thing as a 100 percent trustworthy person, which means there is no guarantee that people will not let us down, hurt us, or behave terribly.

But, the good news is…
We do not have to judge the person as a whole and give them a badge of trustworthy honor. Instead, we can prioritize our beliefs, values, and intentions, and judge to see if the person can commit to those things.

You see, trusting another person is not about saying “You’re good, you’re safe”—it is about saying “I know that, in these areas, I can count on you, and I acknowledge and understand the areas where I can’t.” If we continue striving to prove that someone is “good,” then, as soon as they show a flaw, we will cut them off, deem them untrustworthy, and continue our cycle of being closed off and disconnected.

By the way, this also applies when thinking about our own commitments and trustworthiness!

REFLECTION
1. On a scale of 1-10 (1 never; 10 too easily), how would you rate your willingness to trust others?
2. What has been the impact on your life of not being able to trust others?
3. I can trust myself if I keep my commitments to …. even if I am unable to commit in other ways.
4. I can trust a person if they keep their commitments to …. even if they are unable to commit in other ways.

Next week Rachel will conclude her 3 Part Series with insight on the issue of “Abandonment”.

Rachel Grant is the owner and founder of Rachel Grant Coaching and is a Trauma Recovery & Relationship Coach. She is also the author of BeyondSurviving: The Final Stage in Recovery from Sexual Abuse. With her support, clients learn to identify and break patterns of thought and behavior that keep them from recovering from past sexual abuse or making changes in their relationships.

Rachel holds an M.A. in Counseling Psychology. With this training in human behavior and cognitive development, she provides a compassionate and challenging approach for her clients while using coaching as opposed to therapeutic models. Rachel is a member of the International Coach Federation & San Francisco Coaches.

Learn more at http://www.rachelgrantcoaching.com


6 Comments

Learn To Trust Yourself

I am honored to present the first of three articles from my friend, author and all-around amazing person, Rachel Grant! Rachel will be talking about matters of “Trust” and “Abandonment”. These are topics that all of us as survivors of abuse can benefit. Please be sure to check in over the next three weeks. I promise you, she will provide insight and guidance to help. I know because she has helped me already.

——————————

Learn to Trust Yourself

Many survivors struggle with trust. It is not surprising given that our fundamental trust in another person was shattered as a result of abuse. In fact, it is hard for some survivors to remember ever trusting anyone.

When I first thought about trusting others, I felt a huge knot in my stomach. I did not want to rely on the integrity or character of another person. After all, I had relied on the character of someone, and he abused me. I also had a very hard time believing that people would not always leave, let me down, or harm me. I was in a terrible loop of being out to prove that no one could be trusted, and I was succeeding.
There are a couple of layers involved when we think about trust: defining trust, trusting ourselves, trusting others and determining who is trustworthy, and, the biggie, embracing vulnerability. For today, we’re just going to think about trusting ourselves.

As we think about trust, we often focus on determining if a person is trustworthy or not. To be sure, this is very important. However, trusting yourself is actually the first step! If you do not have the confidence that you can make good decisions, judge others with wisdom and clarity, and set the boundaries that are necessary when others violate your trust, then thinking about trusting others will prove to be an empty and meaningless endeavor.

To begin trusting ourselves, we need to figure out the answer to one very important question:

I do not trust myself because …

Once we identify the beliefs that are holding us back from trusting ourselves, we then need to do the work to challenge these beliefs.

As in all things, start small. Setting a goal that focuses on just one area where you want to begin learning to trust yourself is a good place to begin. I also encourage you to read more about challenging false beliefs directly using a few simple steps.

Too often we strive to be open to others, to trust, but find ourselves pulling away, making a mess of things, or being hurt by our choices. If you find yourself over and over again struggling to trust others, it is possible that your focus needs to be shifted from outward interactions to inward reflection and growth.
Being grounded in who you are, confident in your ability to make good decisions, and able to set and keep boundaries are critical components of trusting others.
Next week, I’ll share with you some thoughts on defining trust in a new light and learning to trust others.

REFLECTION

1. On a scale of 1-10 (1 never; 10 too easily), how would you rate your ability to trust yourself?
2. In what areas of life do you trust yourself to make good choices?
3. In what areas of life do you doubt your ability to make good choices?

Next week Rachel will present Part II – “Learn To Trust Others”

Rachel Grant is the owner and founder of Rachel Grant Coaching and is a Trauma Recovery & Relationship Coach. She is also the author of BeyondSurviving: The Final Stage in Recovery from Sexual Abuse. With her support, clients learn to identify and break patterns of thought and behavior that keep them from recovering from past sexual abuse or making changes in their relationships.

Rachel holds an M.A. in Counseling Psychology. With this training in human behavior and cognitive development, she provides a compassionate and challenging approach for her clients while using coaching as opposed to therapeutic models. Rachel is a member of the International Coach Federation & San Francisco Coaches.

Learn more at http://www.rachelgrantcoaching.com.