When I began my healing journey many years ago, my therapist would talk about all the different “parts” within me. I learned that we must honor each of those parts and make them feel seen and known to heal.
As a childhood survivor of sexual abuse, I had two parts to which I needed to pay particular attention. One of those parts was my “little girl” who had been so deeply wounded by someone she trusted. The other was my “protector” part because the adults around me were too lost in their own trauma to come to my aid.
The protector built strong walls around my little girl to try and help her manage her fears, disappointment, and deep sadness. The protector was needed to help me endure and move through the difficulties that surrounded me. As I worked with my therapist, I needed to honor the protective part and let it know that it did not need to be so strong anymore. The protective walls that had been built up could soften, and I could find strength in other ways.
The little girl needed to be held, feel safe and loved. She needed her fears allayed and to know that she is no longer in danger. She needed to know that she was (and is) worthy of caring love and of being seen and heard. It was also important for the little girl to know she is precious and worthy of loving, healthy relationships.
Healing those parts is not easy work and, because it takes time, it can be hard to know when the healing has occurred. I often talk about the walls I created of perfection, achievement, being strong and not relying on others. I could see wisdom growing in me as I recognized how those characteristics worked for me and worked against me. It took years to soften that protective wall, stop identifying so strongly with those ways of being, and embrace more vulnerability and my authentic self.
Seeing the little girl part of me grow in her confidence and ability to claim herself and her needs is an ongoing piece of work. I recently had an opportunity to see how much growth has happened. I was with two friends on a weekend getaway to the lake. One friend was leading a virtual yoga class while my other friend and I were her “in person” participants. We were lying in Shavasana at the end of the yoga session, and I had a giddy feeling of being a child, laying on my blanket at naptime beside a dear friend. I could even see the bright flower blanket, which would be a pure memory for me, not a picture to remind me, from which I recognize most of my memories.
As I lay in Shavasana, I reflected on this feeling of joy and safety. Tears came as I realized that this was the “before.“ Before the childhood sexual abuse and the loss of innocence, peace, and trust. To sense what it was like to go home to that innocent little girl helped me think of what it could be like for me as I claim my authentic self, the one that is pure love and joy and trust. Until we have those moments, we can’t know what it looks like; we can’t envision our future state or have a line of sight. I am grateful for this gift. To love my child self, perhaps this is in part to be able to smile at those fearful unworthy parts that come up and ask, “Are you done worrying now? You have surrounded yourself with loving, healthy relationships dear one.”
Other parts I recognize and own:
I seek to love my sacred self. I try to nurture this part daily and honor my true spiritual connection, whether in meditation, prayer, nature, readings; allowing my spirit to express herself, grow in understanding, and love herself. As essential as this part is, it seems to be one that can be neglected so I meet it with intentionality.
Embracing my courageous part has been much of my work over the past decade. This included courageously looking into the dark and healing the woundedness that lay within. It meant evolving from my tightly knit protective cocoon and then courageously pushing out and risking exposure by openly engaging those around me with my truth, and courageously spreading my wings to be seen by all. My hope is that it lifts their hearts in the seeing.
This is my hope for you dear one. My hope is for you to see each part of you and love each part of you. It is by embracing the whole of ourselves that we can move to a new level of healing and ultimately thriving.
I hope you will join me on the 15th of this month where we will explore the parts of ourselves more. You will have an opportunity to examine those parts of you that may still need some attention, love, nurturing, and even celebrating.
Here’s to Thriving!
Tambry Harris, survivor, thriver, founder of Going-Forward: Survivors to Thrivers
At Survivors to Thrivers we seek to bring hope and healing to survivors of abuse. One way we do this is to share stories from our Thriver Tribe. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact us. We also seek to be a community of love and encouragement. Please let us know what you would like more of in our blogs to help lift you up!
Awakening the Light: A Survivors to Thrivers Going-Forward Story speaks even more about the healing of these various parts in me and was written to encourage others to move from surviving to thriving.