Today, I am a happy and peaceful person. Every sexual violence survivor deserves to live a happy and peaceful life. Maybe you don’t feel like it right now, but you are in control of your life. You and God, Nature, or whatever you call your higher power, together you can do anything.
How do you begin? In a word, the answer is “self-care.” I don’t understand why we routinely neglect our spiritual health because it’s the key to our wellness. I know it sounds weird, but hear me out. In a house full of people, have you ever been in a room by yourself with your back to the door when someone walks in without making a noise? Before you turned around, you knew who was there because you sensed their spirit before you heard or saw them.
Think about your close friends. The reason they’re your close friends is because your spirits connect in a nurturing way. Among other things, it might be because they’re kind, loyal, always ready to make you laugh or cheer you up when you’re depressed, and maybe spontaneous (or not if that’s what you prefer). You and they are the sum of the intangible qualities that make up your spirit and make you the person you are today.
We’ve all heard stories about hostages surviving their grueling captivity by drawing from their faith in God in prayer. Gloria Polanco, the wife of a senator and former governor, one of 15 Colombian hostages held by rebels (all of whom were rescued), prayed for an hour and a half every day. Her faith kept her sane. “I spoke to God a lot. I could feel His suffering,” she said. “You could see the difference between those who had faith and those who didn’t. Some prayed a lot, and some said that God didn’t hear them.”
The point I’m trying to make is that our spirit is the essence of our true self and is where our infinite strength lies. Since we’re not taking care of the core of our existence, there’s no way we can be healthy, whole and expect to be living balanced lives. We need to provide nourishment for and nurture our spiritual health like we do our physical and mental health.
When I wrote the poems in my first book, A Rape Survivor’s Spiritual Journey: My Poems and Practical Exercises, I had lost track of all my friends, and the only one I had nearby made a pass at me knowing that I was a survivor of childhood sexual violence. It was devastating, but I was determined to beat the darkness. I vowed to deepen my prayer life and read nothing but positive, uplifting books like The Power of Positive Thinking, the bible, and listen to inspiring music. I was not going down without a fight.
Recently, long after I wrote this book, I struggled through the worst depression I ever experienced. My mind, senses, and spirit constantly wrestled with the bleak darkness, and my only consolation came during prayer. I felt myself slipping away and disappearing, regressing to my tormented childhood days never to return.
Thank God I met William Rosado, another survivor, who wisely assessed I had not completely forgiven my deceased father or myself as I told him I already did. He helped me achieve a miraculous breakthrough on July 7, 2014, my deceased step-sister Mary’s birthday. Also sexually abused by our biological father, I felt she saved my life and expunged my guilt for not finding her before she passed away.
William reminded me of the power of God’s love while carefully guiding and counseling me through completely forgiving my father and myself. However, I had to finish the process on my own in private between God and me. Determined, I had no idea how it would end. After endless tears and painfully excavating the depths of my soul, I finally achieved absolute forgiveness for my father and me. Beaten, torn, and tattered, my heart exploded, and my PTSD became history. Thanks be to God!
I always recommend one-on-one therapy and group therapy if and when you and your therapist decide that it’s time. However, I also recommend meditation, all forms of prayer, and self-care for your spiritual health as well as your physical and mental health.
While I wholeheartedly support survivors whether they seek justice in court or not, I believe justice and forgiveness are independently possible. As a part of their healing process, survivors determine what they need to do to resurrect their spirit. My mission is serving them on their healing journey. Let me know how I can help you.