“Healing would have to be both the worst and the best thing that I have ever done (and continue to do). The worst part is the pain…oh the heart-breaking, soul-draining, almost-too-much-to-bear pain! Healing simply isn’t possible without it. In relation to trauma, there is much more involved than merely recalling disturbing memories – these experiences need to be transformed into something life affirming. This alchemical process of turning poisonous events into medicinal ones is the best part of healing as this cultivates inner strength and wisdom.” (Copyright Helen Papadopoulos 2010, Phoenix Rising)
This is the introduction to the chapter “Holy Healing, Helen!” which I am currently working on. I thought it would be far easier to write this part of the book since it was at these times in my life that I felt the strongest regardless of all the turmoil involved with reliving such events. Despite the fact that I have dealt with the sexual abuse so many times in so many different ways (via therapy, journaling, rituals, writing articles and poems, screaming, crying, isolation…) penning this latest version of coping with these happenings is allowing me to heal on yet another level…I call it “Healing the Healing.” I will try to explain it below and I do hope it makes sense.
Those times in my life when the pain of the abuse and/or the resurfacing of more memories occurred were in and of themselves shocking, disturbing, confusing, frightening…in a word – traumatic. By revisiting them now I am healing the therapeutic process I underwent back then.
Here are some examples of these revisitations:
- I was on a crowded train on my way to visit a cousin one morning when I had a flashback of an abusive event. I became disoriented and panicky from the shock of the memory as well as feeling the way I did as a child (scared, intimidated, wanting to crawl into the fetal position). I reached into my hand bag and took out the bottle of Rescue Remedy I had been fortunate enough (or wise enough) to take with me that day. I took the recommended dosage of four drops whilst receiving strange looks from the other commuters. Being noticed like this would have bothered me at one point in my life but doing what I needed to survive reliving this memory was as paramount in that moment as it was in my childhood.
- In one of my therapy sessions I had to confront an abuser whilst under mild hypnosis (i.e. I was aware of what was going on the whole time) which involved an incident that occurred when I was around two-years-old. During this experience I screamed the words “Go away.” It was expressed with a rage that I’d never heard or lived through before and it scared me. Even my therapist was thrown off her game by the intensity of my wail. As I came out of my trance, I noticed her swollen, red, watery eyes looking at me with great concern.
- Whilst sitting in a workshop learning how to properly construct a resume after I graduated from university, I began to feel myself drifting out of my body. I could hear and see everything that was going on but it didn’t feel like I was ‘there.’ I couldn’t speak but when I was spoken to I responded by smiling, or nodding my head. It seemed as though my brain had a million nerve cells firing all at once so I found it difficult to concentrate. As this was the first time I’d experienced this phenomenon I was so frightened I could hear myself ‘screaming on the inside.’ I also wasn’t sure if and when I would come out of this semi-catatonic state but after a few minutes I was back in my body and able to use my voice again. (Copyright Helen Papadopoulos 2010)
Remembering these occurrences by describing them in the book (and this blog) is healing on yet another level. This is because it allows me to integrate these events even further into my psyche which helps to strengthen the individual I am now as well as fulfilling my purpose of helping others in the same boat. It is another reminder that healing is cyclical just like everything else in the natural world (e.g. the seasons, time, the human life span). There will of course be future experiences that will allow me to heal the abuse on even deeper levels (e.g. helping and/or raising children). Healing is an ongoing evolutionary process.