January is Spiritual Abuse Awareness month, and this article on healing is one of the last that I plan on posting in this current series.
Summary. This post shares lists of observations, analyses, feelings, action decisions, and theological conclusions that help us reflect on our level of healing and identify continued “spiritual sore spots” that need attention.
It takes time to heal from the trauma inflicted by toxic people. Some of us are wired to forgive quickly. Some of us perhaps are wired to move on too quickly without asking key questions about ourselves and/or the perpetrator. Some of us require more verbal processing before we understand the situation, what happened, and the ramifications. Thus, the healing process may look significantly different, even if the end product of a relatively restored life is similar. Also, my experience tells me that regardless of how long initial healing and a return of our “identity equilibrium” takes, we’ll still keep learning new aspects of the “redemptive edge” to our story – if we’re open to that.
Here are some “barometer features” along the way that can help us figure out if we’re moving in the direction of healing. This is one of those lists that I suspect should develop over time, so I expect to return occasionally to add new items or refine older ones.
I’ve noticed that …
There is less intensity sometimes in my feelings of doubt, depression, fear, obsession, anger, and/or panic.
The time lapse is increasing between periods when I feel confused and/or emotionally overwhelmed by what happened to me.
The flashbacks to what they said/did to me aren’t as bad and aren’t as often.
I’m praying more now – my prayer life used to be frozen or non-existent.
I’m praying less now – my prayer life isn’t as frantic as it used to be.
I’ve reflected about …
The differences between forgiving those who harmed me, and trusting them again. This includes not only forgiving the obvious perpetrator(s), but also those who reinforced the abuse whether by their participation or by their silence.
Whether the situation in which I was treated abusively is safe enough for me to stay involved with, or whether I need to exit there – temporarily or permanently – in order to heal.
My relationships and roles in what happened, and about what features in who I am make me vulnerable to being picked and picked on by this particular kind of manipulative person who is abusive.
What I should own up to as any responsibility I have in what happened, and what has been falsely laid on my doorstep by others in order to deflect attention from themselves and their own guilt in the situation.
Sometimes when I think of a person who was abusive to me, I …
Feel angry and vengeful toward him/her – but at least I’m finally feeling something because I was worth something and should never have been harmed, instead of just being numb as if I am worth nothing or as if I deserved what happened.
Feel sad for him/her, and pray for God to bring His healing into his/her life.
Feel concern for others who are still under the toxic influence of him/her, and I pray for their safety, well-being, and healing.
Can see some how factors in the personal and family backgrounds of the abuser shaped him or her into the kind of unhealthy person who would do such toxic things to others, and I now am discovering at least some sense of compassion toward him/her.
I have decided …
NOT to protect toxic people or organizations. They should not be shielded from the consequences of their abusive actions. If I stay silent when the issue arises, I am adding to their body count of traumatized victims.
To connect with other disciples in healthy group, ministry, and/or church settings, in order to follow Jesus Christ and pursue Christlike character in community.
To seek input from trustworthy people who can keep confidences, help me process my experiences, and challenge me to spiritual healthiness.
God is not a Cosmic Sadist, and He is not the cause of those who are.