Today’s post is pretty deep.
And it may require an open mind. It may trigger you.
My ask is to keep an open mind and to stay curious. And if you find yourself getting triggered, decide to be curious about why you are feeling that way.
Today could be a day of big healing.
The topic today is…
The sad truth is that it happens. A lot more than I ever thought.
There are all kinds of abuse. Physical. Sexual. Emotional. Spiritual. Financial.
One of the greatest shocks of my career came when I was first getting started.
I had no idea how many women had experienced abuse.
Yes, men experience abuse, too. However, my clients are 99% women, so I am exposed to more stories of women being abused than I am men.
So, this message will focus on abuse directed towards women, but it in no way negates abuse towards men.
The first time a client told me about the abuse that they had been through, I froze.
I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have abuse in my childhood.
But, I asked questions. And took this courageous woman through a few of the intervention processes that I had used with other clients to move through emotionally tough situations.
I was 100% transparent with her that I didn’t have any experience working with abuse and she gave me her permission to keep going.
Something amazing happened, within six months she reported back that not only had the effects of the past abuse lessened, but she had forgiven the person that hurt her, she was quitting her job and moving to California to start the career of her dreams.
She realized that because she had been through such a hard thing and gotten through it, that she could help other women do the same thing.
She realized that healing, forgiving and moving past the abuse didn’t justify what happened to her, but it did change how she related to the past. And, because she relates to the past in a new way, she was free from the abuse.
She then followed through, moved to California and to this day works to inspire others (mostly women) to work through abuse and embrace self-love.
At the end of our time together, she told me she was grateful for what happened to her.
This, I could not imagine.
How could someone be grateful for such a painful thing?
Her answer will stay with me forever… She said that what had happened to her was a part of making her who she is today.
And who she is today is someone who can help and serve others to heal.
She said that helping others is a big part of her purpose, and she was unsure if she would have ever gotten to the place of being of service if she hadn’t gone through what she went through.
To me, this is nothing short of a miracle.
I cried on the phone with her as we both recognized what a powerful, healing moment this was….. not only for her but for everyone that she would come into contact with from that moment forward.
That was almost a decade ago, and since then I have worked with thousands of women who have suffered through abuse, and I have learned some lessons from the trenches.
Today, I want to share them with you in hopes that I can help you break free of any past abuse and perhaps help someone you know to break free, too.
Top 10 Lessons I’ve Learned Helping People Heal From Abuse:
1. It’s important to have a mentor to work with you, so that you can illuminate blind spots and help keep you on track.
2. Before you can heal the past, you must feel the past. With the help of a mentor, getting in touch with the scary feelings from the past and bearing witness to them is powerful. You begin to realize that this feeling will not kill you, in fact, when you feel them, accept them and give them a voice, you begin the healing process.
3. It’s counterproductive in the beginning of the healing process to tell someone who has been through trauma to “get over it” or to “see it differently, ” or that fear is “false evidence appearing real.” The wound must first be witnessed as it is. In the raw.
4. When you’ve been through abuse, it’s important to see what happened to you with new eyes. When you look back on painful memories, you will see that you didn’t remember the full truth of what happened. Because most abuse occurs in our formative years, it’s easy to look at the person who hurt us as a big, powerful, scary monster. But, when you look back and see what was really going on, you’ll see that underneath all the anger, the rage, the pain and the scary exterior of the person or people that hurt you…. is a scared child (in perhaps an adult body), who is acting out their own pain on you. You begin to see them, not as a monster, but as a wounded child who didn’t heal.
5. When you see the woundedness of the person who hurt you, you can have the first signs of empathy. This does NOT mean that what they did is okay, nor does it justify what happened. Nor, does this mean that you will allow behavior like this to continue. However, you do put yourself into contact with their pain. And, you will see that you had nothing to do with their pain. You were at the whim of their pain. You may have formed your belief about the world because of what they did to you, but you now see that it’s not about you. You realize that hurt people, hurt people. You start to see that trauma and abuse are almost generational and are in some ways… passed down or inherited. When you see this, you will realize that the person who hurt you is living inside their own self-made prison, hell, and purgatory.
6. Upon being open to seeing the pain that the person was in who hurt you, you can begin the forgiveness process. You see that they are unconscious. They didn’t know better. They did they best they could. Even though it wasn’t good enough to not cause you pain, you start to see what used to look like a big, bad, powerful being transform into a scared, weak and traumatized person who is acting out in unconscious and hurtful ways. This is their karma, not yours.
7. You become willing to forgive. This is a big moment for abuse survivors. There can be a big resistance to forgiveness. Why? Because there is a commonly held misconception that somehow forgiveness makes right what happened to you. It sort of justify’s the abuse and the idea that forgiveness is the same thing as say that what happened was okay. That is not the case. Forgiveness does not make what happened okay. It does not dismiss the gravity of what happened. However, forgiveness is how you get free. Forgiveness is the best revenge because when you forgive the person who hurt you, and you forgive yourself for staying hurt, you start to take your power back. And that feels good.
8. After you become willing to forgive, you have a massive AHA moment. Which is this… You realize the cost of not forgiving. One of the biggest moments of awakening for abuse victims is to see that if they do not forgive, if they do not get on with their life, if they keep playing small and blaming the past for their current circumstances, then they are now allowing the person who abused them to still win. I worked with a client recently on this topic. She had been through significant abuse as a child. When she realized that not living her life to the fullest, not really going for it… meant that the people who hurt her were still winning, this was a moment of liberation.
9. When you realize that the best revenge is success, you get busy living your purpose. It’s reasonable to understand that when an abuse has been suffered, the first reaction is to shut down and learn how to play it safe. However, you were not born to play it safe. You have an Infinite Soul that was forged from a Creator that Loves you and gave you a unique and specific purpose. Not living that purpose means that the abuser(s) are still winning. It’s natural to think at first that playing a bigger game, forgiving and living your purpose will, on some level, re-trigger the past abuse. But, that is not so. The worst is behind you. The best healing, the best revenge, the best way to take your power back is to live your purpose and serve others along the way.
10. Finally, you realize that there is a gift in your pain. There are so many people in the world who will not read these words. They don’t have the tools, or the resilience or the privilege or the Grace that you have been given to heal. When you realize that the abuse you’ve gone through has given you a specific form of empathy for others who have gone through similar abuse, you can bring meaning to what happened to you. When you can dedicate your life to being of service to others who went through similar abuse, you can find gratitude for what happened to you. Why? Because, for whatever reason, what you’ve been through has prompted you to arrive at a place of helping others who don’t have the tools and the perspective that you have. This is where you take you power back 100% from the past and never look back.
Look – healing from abuse is not easy. The body always remembers.
It’s an emotional and scary process. It’s not easy. It takes time. And courage.
There are an unlimited number of reasons we can find to blame others for what they did to us.
But, that blame does not heal you. Blame makes you weak. Keeps you stuck.
Resentment and blame are thinking that you are giving someone else a dose of poison, but in the end, you will realize that it is you who has been living in resentment and blame.
There is more to this life for you than a life of resentment and blame.
A common question I am asked is, “Mastin, aren’t some things unforgivable?”
The answer is… no.
Everything can be forgiven. Just not forgotten.
Forgiveness does not make your “enemy” right. It does not “justify” the abuse.
It does not lessen the significance of what happened to you.
Forgiveness helps you to heal.
And when you heal yourself, you can help others.
When you heal yourself, you stop yourself from reliving the nightmare of abuse every day.
This leaves me with the final questions I get asked,
“Mastin… why did this happen to me? What this abuse a part of God’s plan in my life? Why would a loving God allow this to happen?”
And, this is a question that I do not have a 100% answer for.
I cannot know the mind of God.
Nor, can I speak on behalf of God’s will for you, me and all of us.
However, I can offer you a suggestion about how to answer this question.
After working with thousands of women who have suffered through abuse, I do have an educated guess.
Consider that you decided to be born into this life to bring Light, to bring healing, to help stop the cycle of abuse and violence on this planet.
Consider that the fastest way for you to make this impact is to have a first-hand experience of the pain you were born to heal.
Consider that the pain you went through could be viewed as a very intense form of learning at an experiential level.
Consider that your experience is what gives you the passion, the drive and the empathy to help others who couldn’t be as strong as you are.
Consider that when you speak of your experience and the pain, you’ve overcome, that your testimony is healing to those who are too scared to express their shame.
Consider that your resilience and your truth… the demonstration of your example of healing can give hope to those who don’t know how to wake up from the trance of their past trauma.
Is it God’s will that you were abused?
I have no idea.
I can’t answer that question.
But, the question I can help you answer is this…
“What am I going to do about it now?”
And, at this moment, you can choose liberation, freedom, and healing.
You can choose to see the hurt of the person who abused you and to become willing to forgive them.
To become willing to take your power back and cut the chords from your past.
You can become willing to serve others who have been through this and help them.
You can become willing to see this all through a different lens.
Your pain is not what makes you special.
Your trauma is not what makes you significant.
What makes you significant, what makes you special… is what you choose to do with it.
We cannot change the past. We cannot minimize what happened.
We cannot justify this behavior.
But, what we can do is this…
We can change how you relate to the past.
The past, after all, is that… the past.
It’s a ghost. It’s not real. The past does not exist.
So, no matter what you’ve been through in the past, when you forgive, when you heal and when you serve others…
You change how you relate to the past.
And when you change that, your future is unlimited.
And, with an unlimited future, you no longer allow the people who hurt you to have dominion over your life, your choices and fulfilling your purpose.
Was what happened God’s will in your life?
I don’t know…. and the truth is… the answer to that question is unknowable (at least for right now).
And, in search for that answer, we lose focus on a far more powerful question…
What are you going to do about it now?
There is hope. There is a way out. Healing is possible.
TOOLS: EMDR, Kundalini Yoga, the Claim Your Power course, our Enter the Heart retreat, tapping and trauma therapy are great resources to seek out.
Just be willing to take the first step today.
Know that today… you a blessed.
And from this moment forward, you are free.
Please know that who you are… as you are… right now – is enough.
And in this moment, you are deeply loved.
Remember to get out there, take action and make it real!