I didn’t begin this blog and then go out and buy books to write about, as you know. That means, every book I share about has a reason for being in my bookshelf… and is meaningful to me.
The Courage to Heal Workbook by Laura Davis is no exception.
My story never felt violent enough for need of a book to help me heal. To be honest, I didn’t even realize that what I’d gone through *was* abusive. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I talked about it… and even then, it was in a whisper.
I’d joined a group at the church my family attended. The group was called, “The Road to Recovery”. I’d shown up because it was about addiction… and I have an addiction… well, I’ve had many, but at that time, I’d have said it was food.
It was run like an AA meeting, kind of. I say “kind of” because I didn’t know for sure, since I’d never attended one.
The group was small and made up entirely of church members. We already trusted each other, so things moved quickly.
There are a few things I want to share about this experience.
Don’t blindly trust anyone with your most intimate stories. Everything was wrong with our group of people in pain. The leader was a man who had been succeeding at AA but was no expert. For example, I later learned that AA meetings do not have leaders, per se. Members take turns leading. Strike one.
Our leader was under the direction of the pastor of the church, who did not attend the meetings but seemed to know exactly what was said and preached about subjects we’d talked about at our weekly meetings. Was he psychic? No. I found out later that the leader told the minister what we discussed but more importantly, what each of us shared. Strike two.
We’d thought our stories were safe within the group. Even after, when the group disbanded, the minister justified his knowing as something God would want. Strike three and yer out!
It was the beginning-of-the-end of my relationship with that particular church and organized religion in general.
And, by the way, add this to the heap of abuses I encountered in my life.
After one of the meetings, I was approached by a woman who asked me if I’d ever been sexually molested. I said no. She showed me a list of symptoms/ behaviors that indicate sexual abuse as a child.
I looked at the list and realized they all pertained to me.
I looked up and HER eyes filled with tears. She asked again. I said no… unless you count… and then I told her about something that had happened when I was around eight or nine. And another thing that happened as I was walking home at about fourteen. And more, later, when the crazy 1970’s were winding to a close… and I’d put myself in dangerous situations. My fault. My. Fault.
Didn’t this kind of stuff happen to everyone?
Evidently, the answer was no.
What happened when I was nine was quiet and gentle… not violent at all. It was with a female, not a male… not a man… a girl… older than I was and in a place of power, I suppose, since she held the key that led to her grandmother’s pool. I loved to swim! Just do these things in the dark… in her bed… and I would be rewarded with a swim. Over one summer, I swam a lot.
Later, when I was young teenager, an older boy grabbed my breast as he rode by me in an empty field. I fell to the ground in pain. He left. I was shaken but not permanently injured. No biggie.
And I could lump the last years of the 1970’s into a big ball of dangerousness. There was the teacher that liked me too much (and wrote something creepy in my yearbook) when I was a senior… and the men I met in discos… and at work… who wanted more than I could give… and I gave a lot.
Risky. Scary. It was just the times, eh? Haha.
As you might imagine, the workbook goes with the original book The Courage to Heal. I would, of course, highly recommend it, as well.
This workbook is something that I (unfortunately) wrote in directly. I’ve since learned to NOT DO THAT… for many reasons, not the least of which is that someone visiting your home could pick it up from the bookshelf and read things you never meant for public consumption. Especially in something as sensitive as this.
I would always suggest that if you need a book like this and HAVEN’T spoken to a professional about it, that you do that FIRST. Trying to heal yourself from sexual abuse can be a dark, winding road that you might not want to travel alone. You may *think* you do but believe me, some memories may come up that need the help of someone who knows what the hell they’re doing. Trust me on this one.
It is a book of writing and checklists, questions and activities. Get ready to work! And if you need this book… I am profoundly sorry. I share your pain.
Recognizing Sexual Abuse/ Warning Signs