Sunday, January 08, 2006

Beginning to Thrive

If you are a survivor of abuse or trauma or serious life challenges, you’re reading the right blog. This is a blog by a survivor FOR survivors and anyone who wants to create a happy life no matter what the circumstances may have been UP TO THIS POINT!

Anthony Robbins says, and I truly believe it, that the past does NOT equal the future. I know he’s right and I’d like to share with you, in this blog, ways I’ve overcome challenges in my own life and how I’ve gone from being desperately unhappy to someone who looks forward to life and the possibilities ahead.

If anyone of you have ever visited The Wounded Healer Journal (and if you are a survivor of sexual abuse you will find it a wonderful resource), you may remember someone who posted a while ago as April_optimist. That’s me. I will be posting here the same kinds of practical and encouraging ideas I used to post there.

The main thing I want to say is: IT IS POSSIBLE TO HEAL!

I am NOT saying that what happened is unimportant! Abuse always leaves scars, often causing damage that goes far deeper than we realize until some situation in our adult lives resonates with the past and causes it to surface. Going from survivor to thriver takes work, too, but I believe it can be joyful work. We can emerge stronger than someone who was never traumatized and has never stopped to examine his or her life and the assumptions made about that life.

So...the first thing I would ask, and it may sound very strange but it is the foundation of all change, is that you begin to find ways to smile, every day, no matter what. No matter what is going on in your life, in fact the more traumatic your circumstances, the more important it is to do so. It is a very real strength you can give yourself if you find ways and reasons to smile at least 3 times every day. It can be little things—a butterfly, a song you love, a favorite color.

Why is this so important? It’s important because when you find ways to smile every day, you are making yourself a promise that no matter what, YOU can create happiness in your life and you will. It is a reminder that no matter what has happened to you in the past, you do not have to go on being unhappy forever.

Something physical also happens when we smile. Our bodies begin to shed some of the damaging hormones caused by stress and PTSD. Our bodies begin to renew. We are able to draw on greater resilience than we had before.

Others may have, at some point in our lives defined our existence by the damage they did to us. But we can choose, from this moment forward, to begin to define our own lives--starting with embracing the ability and the right to smile. It may sound like a very small thing, but I promise that it is more powerful than you can imagine in going from survivor to thriver.

April_optimist

1 comment:

Sharona N said...

April,

Great blog, with lots of useful, healing information! It IS possible to recover from childhood abuse and have a happy life. Thrive, not just survive, as you say. You and I and many others are living proof.

Personally, I thank God that I was blessed with a rebellious spirit, for it saved me many times--even from suicide. When my life was dark and I had no clue what I was doing and where I was going, I always had a little voice inside me saying, "Live your life YOUR way. If you don't, THEY win."

I realize that my way may not work for others--it might even be harmful, so a survivor has to pick and choose what works for them. I only know that my refusal to give in kept me going when the rest of me felt too overwhelmed to cope.

Of course, as I've grown older I've had to let go of my us-versus-them mentality for my own mental health. But a little rage, a little rebellion can be a healing thing ... for a while.

I guess I'm saying, use whatever tools you have to in order to thrive!

Hugs,

Sharona