This week features our monthly installment of the shared wisdom of Kevin Flood for the healing journey. I hope you find his sharing insightful and helpful on your journey from survival to thriving. Mike
What Is Recovery?
By Kevin Flood
Let’s talk about recovery–sexual abuse recovery. As a recovering alcoholic, I was introduced to alcoholism recovery the first day I started attending AA meetings. Many of us in sexual abuse recovery are also recovering alcoholics, and perhaps drug abusers as well. If you are also in one of the programs you will have somewhat of a head start in the process of recovery.
It was about secrecy when the abuse happened and maybe for many years after that. Now, as you begin your recovery experience, it is very important to focus on what recovery means in your own personal life-the life you want to live. There is no rush. How the future will work for you takes time and patience. As victims of abuse, of sexual trauma, we shaped our lives at whatever age it happened to keep it a secret and try to act “normal,” sometimes with success and sometimes not. Either way, we walked around with a deep, painful and scary burden, a totally normal reaction to trauma. As a member of this program, MenHealing, you can now begin to focus on what your recovery means. You can be in a position to let go of the physical and emotional secrets you’ve carried for any number of years, to talk about your recovery and find acceptance with lots of safe people.
If you are new to sex abuse recovery it is very important to begin to focus on what recovery means, and will mean to you as time goes by. Recovery is not a catch-all word. Understanding what you are recovering from and what you want to learn and achieve regarding the effects of the abuse you suffered is crucial. Recovery is a very individual journey, and when you share it with others there is a great deal to learn from each of us who are already on our journey.
Recovery from trauma is a Dynamic process
Recovery from trauma is a dynamic process. It can go fast, slow, it may stop, it can accelerate, it can get lost. In the big picture of recovery, you work to develop the strength to keep it moving forward, away from the trauma of the past, and always toward your future.
As you get comfortable with accepting your story, perhaps sharing it with a trusted person, recovery can begin to take shape. As you become comfortable with the fact that you are totally accepted no matter how terrible your story was, a new stage of belonging and trust can occur. This can become a period of questions and inquiry, of asking fellow-travelers how they did it. The beginning of your recovery program is usually difficult at first. There is a lot of doable work that can be made easier with the help of others on the same journey. There may be many moments when you want to say “no, I don’t have the strength to do this” and at the very beginning, that may be true. What is wonderful about sharing your struggles with others is realizing they will have many ideas to help you through the rough times. You never have to be alone!
Shame is maybe the strongest force holding us back
It is so important to reach the point of realizing that while you are in charge of your own recovery, it is not a one person effort by any means. In the early part of your recovery journey, the idea of having a plan and being in charge of it is likely the farthest thought from your mind. Early on we all need some “instant” recovery in painful moments from the issues that most scare us, that most diminish us. And we know that flashbacks and sudden memories can stop us in our tracks. Shame is maybe the strongest force holding us back and the hardest to deal with as part of recovery. It is frequently best understood with a qualified trauma therapist. When you feel you are into your recovery, you begin taking control of your abuse experience. Now you have a team of support to help you shape your recovery plan. That is a powerful moment and one you should feel proud about. Our memories of what happened can control so much of how we feel about ourselves because they can lock us into the period of the abuse. A strong recovery plan can break you free from that thinking and feeling. This month’s blog only touches on the beginning stage of recovery. Recovery is first, an agreement with yourself that you will learn how to understand how a progressive recovery to can benefit yourself. More will be written in next month’s blog.
Recovery is about Progress, Not Perfection
Mike here: Did you know you can receive emailed notices each time a new entry is posted? Use the form on the top of the right hand column to subscribe. If you have something you’d like to share let us know by using the Join the Men Healing Blog form. Stories, poems, songs, images, about your journey or simply springing from your healing inner muse are welcome. If writing isn’t your thing we can arrange an interview or other ways to assist you sharing your story. I hope to hear from you.
Be well. Stay safe. Take good care.