May 11, 2022

Freedom is Achievable; Just Take the First Step

This blog was written by Becky, who signed up for The 6 Steps to Freedom and has been working on them with her counselor. She shares her heart and is real with which steps were challenging! But those challenges haven’t stopped her from continuing to find freedom.  Becky, we are SO proud of you! 

He entered my life at the age of 8; just a neighborhood boy my age that lived across the street.  We were actually friends for the first two years I lived there.  But at age 10, everything changed.  That’s when my abuse started.  He was no longer a friend, but a perpetrator instead.  My abuse continued for 4 years.  I reached out for help, but no one believed me.  I pushed down all the memories; put them in this nice little box in my mind and never planned to look back.

Fast forward to when I was 38, a brand-new mom, and all the hidden secrets came rushing back. That little box in my mind crushed into millions of pieces and the memories and all the feelings started to resurface.  I was barely functioning when a dear friend told me I seemed to be depressed and maybe I should talk to a therapist.  

The thought of talking with a therapist was scary and not something I was sure I wanted to do.  I didn’t trust people, especially to share my secrets.  But I also knew I didn’t want to continue living in such a dark place.  I knew if I was going to do this, I wanted to talk to a female, and I wanted someone around my age or a little older. I did some research looking for a therapist I thought I might pair well with.  That’s when I discovered Julie.

The first couple sessions were a little strange.  I wasn’t willing to give much information and I definitely wasn’t talking about trauma right away.  But after a few sessions of me feeling out the situation and having these weekly conversations, I was sure I could trust Julie.  We just clicked.  After about 4 or 5 sessions, I finally disclosed to her that I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse.  It was probably one of the hardest things to admit out loud, but I did it.  She was very supportive and empathetic.  She talked me through how we would proceed in therapy to address the trauma and all the emotions that had resurfaced.

While taking this journey through therapy and healing, I decided to take part in the 6 Steps to Freedom from Speak Your Silence.  I found that the first two steps, Get it off your chest and Strip the Weight from it, echoed what I had learned in therapy, so those were easier for me to accomplish.  Step 3, was telling yourself “I rock”, and that proved to be a little bit of a challenge.  Telling myself that I rock was so outside my comfort zone.  I didn’t believe I rocked or had much value to anyone.  This step corresponded with conversations Julie and I were having at that time.  Through conversation, I discovered I have much worth. I’m valued at my job for all the hard work I accomplish.  I’m valued as a mom by my sweet daughter.  My wife sees value in me as her life mate.  But I couldn’t see any value for myself.  Then it hit me.  I survived abuse and came out on the other side being a success.  I had a wife who loved me, a daughter who idolizes me, an employer who values the work I do everyday and I needed to see my own worth as a survivor.  Looking at the value I had to others made me realize I still hold value and you know what, I ROCK!

Step 4, Diffuse your anger,  was so therapeutic for me.  To just sit down and write every feeling and every word I ever wanted to say to my abuser made me feel such relief.  I didn’t realize how much anger I was storing in my mind, my muscles and my heart.  

Step 5, Choose to forgive, was another challenge in my healing.  How could I possibly forgive someone who harbored such hatred and villainy in their soul?  It’s a difficult concept to think that you are not making him/her any less responsible for their actions.  This step took quite some time to accomplish.  I had many conversations with Julie on forgiveness and what it meant to forgive my offender.  It wasn’t until I humanized this person that I was able to offer any forgiveness.  I always viewed my offender as this monster that was not human, had no human emotions, but I allowed myself the opportunity to read his Facebook page where I found out he was an addict and living an unpleasant existence.  I realized that he was suffering and maybe, just maybe, some of that suffering resulted from what he did to me as a kid.  I didn’t need to hold him responsible anymore; he was already torturing himself.  That’s when I was finally able to forgive him for making me endure his abuse.  And in an instant, I felt a massive weight lift  from my shoulders.  I could breathe and not feel overwhelmed by what had been consuming me for so many years.

Julie and I also discussed the need to forgive myself and not take any responsibility for the actions of my perpetrator.  I had taken a break from the 6 Steps to Freedom, but after reading the optional part of Step 5 this week, I know this is something I personally need to accomplish.  It is my goal to sit down and write a letter to my younger self telling that 10-year-old little girl how special she is, how much she is worth to this world, and that she is a survivor, not a victim.

Therapy and the 6 Steps to Freedom have been a challenging experience, but one I would not change if I had the opportunity.  Disclosing my trauma to Julie has been so lightening.  The burden I was carrying for 30 years had been weighing me down and I never realized it.  I’ve been able to share my story with my family and a few close friends.  And I was amazed how much support I received.  

Julie has been a life saver.  I’m so much happier now.  She’s taught me how to work through the emotions when memories resurface and how to restructure my thinking.  I no longer blame myself; I blame the person who did all those things to me.  They were his decisions, not mine.  And Julie helped me realize that.

I continue my journey faithfully.   I will admit, it is a lot of work, but it is so worth it.  If you are struggling with nightmares, and memories and emotions that haunt you, take that first step forward.  Find a therapist or commit to the 6 Steps to Freedom.  If you put in the time and effort, I promise you will find a better life on the other side.  You do not have to stay in darkness.