There is nothing quite as powerful as the force that humanity calls “love.” Yet for survivors of sexual abuse nothing can be more complex or difficult for us to express. Sure, we can “love” to have our morning coffee, or we “love” see both our favorite series or a dear friend. But deeper, unconditional love can feel fleeting or at worse elusive for many of us.
Although society becomes fixated on romantic love this time of year, it may be helpful to resist this trend and instead turn your attention inward. Think back on the past month and reflect on how you have been talking to yourself. Have you been leading with love or with judgment? Are you so quick to focus on the tangibles in your life because they seem at the time to fill a void deep within your essence? Are you having difficulties in your interpersonal dynamics because you have forgotten along the way to be your own cheerleader and nurturer?
There is a scar that never fully fades when one has been sexually violated. In a snap, our soul is forever marked by who and where we were at the time of our trauma(s). We endure the shock, attend to our hurts, reclaim our voice and finally, focus on shining the light of hope around us; but the echo that remains is real and haunting at times. When we are able to be in Thriver-mindset we are able to hear the needs and learn valuable lessons from this echo. However, to fully be present to process this (not sure what this word is) part of our essence, we must act lovingly and without judgment to ourselves.
This is not easy to do. It requires a high degree of mindfulness and a mental machete to hack through our limiting beliefs or toxic echoes. Physically our brain’s limbic system may have been damaged by our ordeals and now sends us waves of impulses to protect our emotions, mood and our memories. Essentially, these limiting beliefs and echoes are trying to guard us against ever experiencing such pain again. The paradox is this cycle causes us to be stuck in a type of analysis paralysis or dissociation from the world around us. In order for us to heal ourselves from the inside out, we need to be our own lightkeeper shining the beacon of truth and hope into all the scary dark corners of our mind. We have the key to our own heart.
When we encounter the pain, we need to name and be brave enough to sit with it for a finite time. As we explore the sensations that arises within us, we can build a greater sense of trust, empowerment and appreciation. In time, that can grow into gratitude and the sincere deep affection that is central to the concept of “love.”
Again, it won’t always be easy. Survivors may be quick to vilify themselves when triggered because when we needed ourselves the most we couldn’t stop the danger from reaching us. It’s not your fault. You did the best you could do in the face of darkness and your assailant’s burdens. People hurt others, often because they themselves, are hurting. Your trauma is not your fault. Despite all the odds and the hardships, you are still here and you have value. The more you act lovingly to yourself the easier it can be to cut through the negative noise and sensations around you. Be patient and act with grace.
When you are able to become more loving to yourself, you will naturally find that you are able to be more invested in actively loving others in your life. You will have a greater sense of inner peace and confidence that will be beacons of inspiration to others around you. This, in turn, will help to feed your positive sense of self, as love is an endless ripple, infinitely radiating more health, joy, and love.
This month filled with hearts and romance, don’t forget to be your own Valentine. Write your own love letter to yourself and the world around you. Lead with light and hope, and begin with nurturing yourself and your lingering hurts. It may be difficult and daunting at times, but we at Survivors to Thrivers are always here for you. If you need encouragement and support, don’t hesitate to reach out to us by email or social media. We welcome your stories of rediscovering the love you have for yourself and those in your life. Remember, your trauma is not your fault. You are beautiful, inspiring and have essential value. Thank you for being a part of this uplifting and empowering community.