Hope can seem like a faraway fleeting pipe dream when you are healing from sexual abuse. However, God tells us that, “We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see? But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.” — Romans 8:24–25
So, I am going to go out on a limb and tell you that I believe that you already have more of what you hope for than you realize. I will also acknowledge that we all have other things for which we hope that we might not have-yet. (Notice the word “yet” 😉 Don’t believe me? Read on… :o)
On a very brief bit of a Debbie downer note I will admit that especially early on in my healing from abuse journey, I often got tired of hope. I wondered if I was really healing from abuse at all? Feeling weary, I wondered if my life was getting better?
Hope Can Seem Futile When Healing From Sexual Abuse
Allow me to elaborate and let’s see if you can relate. ;o) I had my vision either in the past or all the wayyyyyyy into the future. Which made it very difficult to notice any progress in the present. A natural focus as someone who suffered abuse. More often than not, I was either hyper aware of the past or afraid and uncertain of the future.
Now, I think we can all agree that while remaining on high alert absolutely helped us cope in traumatic situations, living outside of the present does not serve us in overcoming abuse and discovering joy. So let’s move past the Debbie downer stuff and move on to the Positive Penelope pillars. (I know… super corny but you get the idea!)
What Does Post-traumatic Growth Mean?
Before continuing on the topic of hope and healing and why you just might be growing more towards joy in spite of suffering abuse than you realize, let’s review the definition of Post-traumatic growth according to the Younique Foundation. “Post-traumatic growth is defined as the positive changes that occur as a person works through their healing journey after trauma.”
Last blog we looked at the first pillar of Personal Strength. Now let’s dive into the next three: Relating to Others, New Possibilities and Appreciation for Life.
God’s Role in Overcoming Sexual Abuse and Relating to Others
Now I’m gonna go out on another limb and guess that when you hear “relating to others” you might cringe or shy away. Sometimes “others” can seem intimidating or uncomfortable when you have been abused. Speaking from personal experience, people always seemed scary because I felt exposed and afraid; not to mention I often compared and despaired a lot!
So, it’s understandable that relating to others might seem like an unattainable pillar of growth after abuse and trauma. However, here’s the good news! “Others” doesn’t have to mean people especially early on on a survivor’s bridge to breakthroughs. Here’s where God and some of His best gifts come in!
How to Relate to God
Spending time with God (Father, Son or Holy Spirit) counts BIG TIME as relating to others! I shared in my first and second blogs some ideas for simply spending time with God like you would with anyone else like a good friend. So, if you need some ideas go check out those blogs.
Jesus absolutely knows what it feels like to be rejected, abused and traumatized by people He loved. He also knows how wonderful it is to rise from the ashes of pain and trauma. Go talk with Him about that and then open up to receive God’s unconditional healing love. And don’t hold back! He can handle how you feel!
Compassion and Growing Through Sexual Trauma and Abuse
Another option for relating to others…have you noticed how compassionate you feel when relating to others who have suffered trauma and abuse? Have you realized that there are actually people you can count on when you are struggling? Or maybe have you noticed that you have developed a greater sense of closeness with others or that you are putting more effort and attention towards relationships?
BINGO! You are moving into post traumatic growth-moving past the pain and starting to discover joy! Relating to others outside of yourself plays a huge role in overcoming abuse and discovering joy! Told ya! 😉
Before we look at the next two pillars, I want to remind you that being able to notice growth within even one of these pillars indicates overcoming abuse and getting closer to freedom and joy. So I want to caution you before you go down the rabbit hole of, “OMG! I don’t do all of those, I must be doomed!” and remind you that just one is good enough to get started!
How New Possibilities Play a Role in Post-Traumatic Growth (AKA Healing from Abuse)
Next let’s take a look at New Possibilities. According to ScienceABC.com. “People who have overcome major struggles develop a sense that new possibilities have emerged from the struggle, opening up opportunities that weren’t present before.” That being said, have you:
- Taken some deep breaths, journaled or meditated instead of reacting and joining in the drama?
- Started a new hobby or joined a new group?
- Tried something new to work towards a goal?
- Taken a new class?
- Have you begun to make boundaries around relationships that formerly you were too afraid to do?
Then there ya go! Any of the above (as well as many many other examples) all help you find relief from anxiety and fear. Soon you start to realize how much you can do and then you go for more and more each experience adding up to the joy and freedom you previously thought impossible.
See?! Healing from abuse is happening! High five! :o)
Moving From Knowing To Experiencing Aids In Healing From Abuse
Okie dokie- now let’s look into Appreciation for Life. Sounds super deep and kinda hippie like (LOL) but it basically means “stopping to smell the roses.” Really stopping to notice the color of the roses, the scent of the roses, how they differ and savoring the walk during which you might have come across them.
More specifically, appreciation for life looks like this:
Instead of going for a walk and seeing the roses and passing them by thinking, “Oh there are some roses.” Or not even noticing them as you walk along.
You actually notice the flowers and think, “Oh aren’t they pretty?! Let me take a closer look and pause my walk here.” (You might not actually say this to yourself but you do stop. 😉
You look closer at the flowers and you take time to actually put your nose to the rose and sniff. It occurs to you that the rose demonstrates God’s beauty in creation. You start to actually feel the beauty of the roses- not just know they are there but experience their beauty and your ability to take the time to observe and experience it.
Childlike Joy Helps Create Breakthroughs When Healing from Sexual Abuse
Think of appreciation for life as a visceral experience rather than a cognitive one. You move from knowing something to experiencing it! Appreciation for life can feel very similar to childlike curiosity and excitement. :o)
Having an appreciation for life refers to the experience inside of yourself. For example, you might start noticing that you really enjoy playing with your doogie or kitty or whatever pet you might have.
Appreciation for life also means a shift in your priorities. You start to realize what is important to you. By reading this blog you’re doing just that! I mean instead of scrolling through Instagram or Tick Toc looking at the latest from TMZ, you are reading something to help you feel free from the pain of your past!
Appreciation for life in action right there!
Shifting Priorities Exemplifies Post-Traumatic Growth
Additionally, you might notice that you would rather be happy than right all the time so you start to avoid arguments you would have engaged in before your breakthrough healing journey began or you might start eating healthier and exercising a bit more.
The best thing about appreciation is that you will notice a decrease in stress and an increase in freedom and hope which leads to joy! See? Simple things like this really indicate that you are indeed healing from sexual abuse and trauma.
You Can Have a Peaceful, Playful Life In Spite of Sexual Trauma and Abuse
So, there ya have it, three of the five pillars of post traumatic growth: Relating to Others, New Possibilities and Appreciation for Life!
I know healing from abuse often seems like a long bridge you won’t ever cross. So, the next time you want to poo poo your progress and wonder if you are healing from abuse, take a moment to reflect on the Pillars of Post-traumatic Growth.
These pillars create the very connections you long for and deserve like healthy happy relationships with God, yourself and others and they lead to the peaceful, playful, purposeful life you dream of!
If you would like help in building your peaceful, playful, purposeful life, click below and let’s make a connection!Let’s connect!
From my heart to yours!