The One Which starts at the Beginning
For a while now I have been thinking about starting a blog and what I would do with it if I had one and I’ve been coming up with loads of ideas to share with you.
From the very first moment that I had the idea to write a blog, I’ve been really clear in my mind about why I’ve wanted to do it. I want to share with you the lessons, the tools, and experience that I have learnt and continue to learn on my own journey of healing, recovery and self discovery after my own personal experience of rape and childhood sexual abuse.
It is my hope that in my sharing that I may not only be able to provide you with a support and resource to help you but also that I may be able to help you find inspiration, strength, hope and courage on your very own journey too. So my reasons for blogging have always been really clear.
However, if I’m honest, I have really struggled not only to get going but to know how to write the blog – not because I don’t know how to write or because I don’t have anything to write about but quite simply because I just have so much that I want to share with you and I just don’t know where to begin.
As I was thinking about how I was going to start writing today, whilst preparing my lunch earlier, I saw the words ” at the beginning” in my head. I questioned what that meant over the chopping of root veg for my homemade soup. At the beginning of what, I asked myself…. my life?…my story?…was I going to start back at the beginning by telling you all about my experiences of sexual abuse? As I piled my veg into the bubbling pan things started to become clear. I would begin this, my first blog, at the beginning of my journey of recovery.
As I settled more into the idea of talking to you about my journey of recovery, I began to see 5 clear steps that I have taken through my healing journey so far to date and it is these steps that I would like to share with you. They are 5 steps that have taken me from the day when I took the biggest step of all, onto the path of my healing, the very beginning point of my journey of recovery, the day I told my parents about what had happened to me as a child, all the way up to, and including today where I share with you my journey to help support you on your journey.
As I will speak about my experience of rape and sexual abuse on my About Me page , I am not going to talk about that again in detail. For today in this blog though, I’d like to start and share with you my journey of recovery..starting right ‘at the beginning.’
Step 1: Getting Help and Finding Support
The very beginning of my journey of recovery began at the point of my “coming out” about my sexual abuse. I call it “coming out” and by that I mean the first time I told others about what had happened to me. In my case it was around my late teens/earlier 20’s, (I don’t remember exactly when), when I first told my parents. Whilst I can picture quite clearly where I was when I told my mother and then how she told my father, I don’t really remember much about the days and weeks that followed that life changing day.
My parents were both in the medical profession, at that time and through their work, which I am grateful for now, they had access to a counsellor who they suggested that I go and see to talk about what had happened. This was, unbeknown to me at the time, the starting point of me getting the help and support that I needed for my healing process.
Counselling wasn’t something that we as a family had any personal experience of. My father was a doctor and my mother was a nurse and whilst they were aware of therapy from a professional point of view, it’s not something that any of us had ever tried before. Healing, in our family, was very much about treating the body through medicine and not talking through our “problems”. I went to a few of the counselling sessions, how many and for how long, I don’t quite remember but it wasn’t long before the journey into early adulthood soon took over and took me away from my healing process for a few years as I was thrust into the flow and mainstream of university life and then finding work and building my career.
As I write and think about that first opportunity that I had to get help and support, I can’t help but stop for a moment and feel a real sense of gratitude towards my parents for suggesting that I go and visit a counsellor. At the same time too, I can’t help also thinking that it was also quite a brave thing for them to do. I say this because I know now how they feel about “airing one’s dirty laundry in public”. The culture of not speaking about things, keeping things in the family and not talking about what goes on inside the house, outside of our four walls was certainly something that our family adhered to, as did and still do many families today, particularly around the subject of abuse. I think also that it was brave and possibly selfless of them at the beginning as well as they put their shame, guilt and other feelings aside to ensure that I got the help that I needed. As I pause for a moment, after having just written this last few lines, I realise that it’s the first time that I have ever really considered this…… and I really do feel very grateful that I had that chance to get the help and support that I needed through counselling, despite how my parents may have been really feeling about it inside.
Undoubtedly that brief initial time in counseling made it easier for me, to not only be able to accept and step back into therapy and my healing process more easily later on in my life but also, it made it easier for me to be open and receptive to all the other healing modalities and resources that I have learnt along the way.
I share my experiences of counselling with you because, like many, for me, the heavy weight and burden of my abuse in the past was too much to carry alone, particularly along side all the other life challengers that I was experiencing at that time. Getting the help I needed and the right support meant then, and still means today, that I no longer had/have to suffer alone. It has also meant that that I have been able to heal and recover in a more ‘whole’, complete and effective way.
Over the years getting the full support, in particular mental and emotional support, that I have needed to cope with, and heal from, my abuse has not been possible from family and friends. My family have always struggled with coming to terms with my abuse and then the later discovery that my brother too had been abused and so they have been unable to support me in the ways that I’ve really needed ….And my friends …..well at the beginning it wasn’t what I dared speak about to them out of guilt, shame and fear etc. As time went on though I did start to tell a few friends but soon decided that it wasn’t helpful to me as I felt that they just ‘didn’t get it’. Through no fault of their own. Who would ‘get it’ if they haven’t studied about it or experienced it for themselves! And also I didn’t feel that I was safe enough to trust my friends to respect and honour what I was sharing with them. Particularly after discovering one friend, who I did reach out had gone out and told how many other friends about what had happened to me! So, counselling and abuse support groups for me were the only safe places where I could truly be heard, non judgmentally, and get the real help and support that I needed.
After university, as I settled into my life in London, I was fortunate to have access to an organisation called ‘“Breaking Free” who supported adult survivors of sexual abuse. Sadly, I don’t think that they exist anymore but it was with the help of their counsellors and their support program that I was able to continue, and in a way really start, my journey of recovery. Through getting the right support I was able to start to talk about my abuse, to start to see that I wasn’t to blame, to understand and find ways to cope with its affects and to begin to learn how to come to terms with my life as a survivor of abuse.
Getting the right help and support, as soon as I was able to, was the starting point for me on my journey of recovery. Over the years as I have continued to reach out and find new help and support through various other organisations and counsellors I have come to learn skills, tools and ways of coping that have not only helped me through my life, but now also help me to help others, like yourself, through their life after abuse.
In my resources section I have listed some organisations and ways that you may or may not already know, that can help you, to get any additional help and support that you may be looking for. I hope this helps. This is just an initial list of ideas and I’ll add more to my resources’ page over the coming weeks.
You are always welcome to message me, by the way, via the comments below with any questions or to share your stories, experiences, tools, resources etc. that may have helped you. Together we can help and support each other.
As a last point, in this blog today I did just want to say that over the years, I have heard many people say that “ counselling is a waste of time”, “ you don’t need counselling”, “counselling doesn’t work, or “counselling isn’t for everybody” and whilst that may be true for some, I did just want to say that , if you are thinking about counselling or getting the help and support that you may be needing from support groups and organisations, then if you feel that it is right for you, please don’t be put off by what others may say or may have said to you. In my experience, many of those who believe that “counselling doesn’t work” or “counselling isn’t for them” etc may not be or have been ready or willing or able face their own pain and challengers at that moment in time and so they may feel that it is not for them and that is ok. They may also, if they have tried counselling and felt that it is not for them, have formed their opinion after working with a person or group that may not have been right for them. For me, if it wasn’t for the help and support that counselling and support groups have given to me, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. Finding the right help and support was the beginning of my journey towards healing, recovery and self discovery.
As I end this post, I hope that my words are able to help and inspire you in some way on your journey of recovery.
I’ll write my next post very soon, but until then my love and support is with you always,
Take care until the next time
Amelia Ella Hope
An after point…
When I started writing this blog entry I thought that I was going to be telling you about all the five stages that I have gone through, but Stage 1 has taken so much longer to talk about than I thought. :o) So I’ll have to talk about the remaining 4 stages in my next blog(s) otherwise both you and I will be here all night trying to finish this blog. So over the coming weeks I will share with you the next stages on my journey including how I have learnt, out of my experiences to:
Become more self aware,
Empower and heal myself, and
Uncover and share with the world my dreams, life purpose, gifts and talents.