Thursday, August 28, 2008

Keep it Simple

My journal is a good friend whenever I am in the throes of an intense healing process. Over the years, I have filled over a hundred journals with words that searched the depths of my mind, heart, and soul. Recently, I've been filling up pages rapidly.

When we're working at a fast pace through old memories, changing old attitudes and claiming new beliefs it helps to keep our journal entries simple. Remember your journal is for your eyes only. Keeping yourself engaged in the process of growth is the crucial part.

Try these tips to simplify and stay in the flow of what the Holy Spirit is doing inside of you:

  1. Record a happening you want to reflect on with as few words as possible, so you can get to the processing part as quick as possible. For example, Argument with F might be the only heading you need to focus on the disagreement you and Francis had over how to organize the church potluck. Getting your internal reactions is far more important information under the heading than writing a precise description of everything that ensued concerning napkin colors, coffee brand, etc.
  2. Circle, underline, draw arrows to move around in your mind and on the page.
  3. Forget sentences if phrases will keep you moving better. Feel free to use abbreviations and acronyms as well--you're processing not documenting.
  4. If referencing a book(s) you are using as a catalyst, put a code in parentheses after the first use. Thereafter, just use the code. For example The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss (CITH).
  5. Draw a line between entries made on the same day (instead of rewriting the date).
Be bold! Say exactly what you need to say in your private journal--for your own recovery from abuse. It's another step in honoring your needs and taking care of yourself. Healing is waiting between the covers of journals, especially when we pray as we write.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Learning to Heal

Summertime activities and extra attention to emotional healing work have kept me away from the computer the last few weeks. I have been reminded of several truths again:
  • Time in the out-of-doors is healing. Spending time in God's creation leads to quiet moments of reflection, recreating relieves tension and stress, and sunshine elevates the mood.
  • When you are working on new behavior and/or revisiting old memories to work through things--it takes extra energy. To find balance you need to accept it and make more time for stress relief and rest.
  • Each time we confront old beliefs with truth and are making new behavior changes, we are making progress and fashioning a better life for ourselves. But while you are first confronting and changing--life feels rocky, challenging, and downright uncomfortable.
  • Old memories that are hidden for a long time feel so powerful when we first unlock them--it is intense! But the very act of facing memories of abuse that we were afraid to look at starts diminishing their power.
What lessons have you been learning this summer? If you'd like to share remember that you can post a comment anonymously without giving your email address. If you run into problems--a few people have let me know that they couldn't post--you can send me and email and request that I post the content of your email. My email is; I hope to hear from some of you over the coming months.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Self-care Won't Come Easy

What do you do when you feel too tired?

Do you give yourself guilt-free time to rest--or do you treat yourself with harshness and push on until you get sick? How about when you notice that you work longer hours than anyone else at work...because you never say no, never state any limit of how much you can reasonably accomplish? Have you ever felt like you are doing too much, but keep pushing harder and harder anyway? Maybe you don't work too hard but you treat yourself in a way that you wouldn't dream of treating others. Maybe you're impatient with yourself or tell yourself lies. Learning to take care of your needs will be a struggle if you are recovering from abuse. Abuse taught you that your needs don't matter.

But the messages of abuse are wrong.

Each human being was uniquely created by God. Each one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made by a creator who loves us. He urges us to treat our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit. A temple is cared for and treated with respect.

Of course, agreeing with the preceding paragraph does not make it automatically easy to take proper care of yourself. But it is a start. A very good beginning. When I fall back into driving myself too hard and acting as if I have an indestructible body without any needs, I need to remind myself that it is not selfish to take care of physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. I am honoring God when I treat myself as someone who is a member of God's kingdom--someone whose needs are normal and important.

Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft