Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Self-Understanding 101: An Introduction

When I initially came to the realization that my rape had been ruling my life in many ways for the past 9 years, I naively thought that dealing with my past was going to be like ripping off a Band-Aid - painful, but quick! I was going to admit to the main source of my
emotional baggage in therapy, and boom, I would soon be free of its suffocating weight.

Not so much the case.

I have come to realize that healing from rape is more like running a marathon - slow and steady wins the race. It takes a lot of perseverance, energy, and motivation to see it through to the end. There are going to be times when I feel like an idiot for deciding to pull these skeletons out of the closet, and there are going to be many more times when I feel like giving up. As I become tired and weary and that voice of self-doubt gets louder, I will have to rely on inner strength I didn't know existed, pulling from all reserves I can muster (if you've ever trained for a marathon, you can relate to this analogy - you've experienced pushing your typical running muscles to the point of exhaustion and unconsciously utilizing a whole host of random, smaller muscles to do the dirty work!). Yes, moving on productively from rape can be accomplished, but not without hard work. If we commit to the hard work of healing, it will undoubtedly make us stronger over time.
"I think I can, I think I can..." Slow and steady!

In running a marathon, everyone has their own running groove. Similarly, in healing from rape, everyone has to figure out their own "healing groove." In other words, there is no prescribed one-size-fits-all magical method of healing. Each one of us is responsible for figuring out what works best for us.

To read one of Michele Rosenthal's ("Heal My PTSD") motivating posts on finding your own path in healing from trauma, click here.

I am still figuring out my healing groove. My therapist has to ask me each week if I'd like to take a break from "rape therapy" as I frequently get too emotional to get any words out, leaving me frustrated and feeling that I have accomplished little. Sometimes the sprinter in me feels like I should attend therapy daily just so I can get over this initial hump and just start pouring my guts out. However, I am receiving therapy through my school so this is not an option; besides, going into healing over-drive might be too disruptive to my performance in graduate school.

To keep me on the healing track in between therapy sessions and to avoid feeling like I am wallowing in my emotions, I have been reading as much material as possible regarding "how to heal." Something I have come across constantly in my reading is the importance of gaining self-knowledge and awareness about the consequences of rape. We might not all handle our rape experiences in the same manner; however, we can all benefit from learning about the emotional, mental, and physiological effects of sexual assault and the different stages of healing.

To read a little blurb from Michele Rosenthal's ("Heal My PTSD") website regarding gaining knowledge about what you're going through to help you tackle symptoms, click here. Her website has a lot of useful and motivational information; the links I provided in this post are just to get you started!

In an effort to better my understanding of what I'm going through (and boy, let me tell you, I need all the validation I can get to ward off feelings of "craziness" - perhaps you can relate...), I am going to start using my blog to summarize and document the information I find most beneficial in my reading. These posts will be labeled "Self-Understanding 101." I am currently reading "Coping With Trauma, A Guide to Self-Understanding" by Dr. Jon G. Allen so my first few "Self-Understanding 101" posts will likely come from this resource.

Hopefully, the information provided in these posts will also prove useful for others who come across this blog in search for answers. If you have any information which promotes self-understanding that you'd like to add, by all means, please feel free to share your resources/personal stories.

"If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest." Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790) [Quotation taken from here.]


  1. Knowledge isn't only valuable, but it is addictive. The weird part is the more knowledge we gain the less we realize we know. There for I am on a quest to know very little. LOL

    I agree, as survivors we need to find our healing groove. We also need to be aware of our own changes in knowledge and healing needs so that we can alter this healing groove so that we remain in the optimal groove for the stage we are in.

    That is a good quote from a womanizer. Well, that's what some people claim. However the womanizer idea comes from him fathering an illegitimate child before he was married in 1730 to Deborah Reed Rogers. There is no evidence that he had any affairs during his marriage to Deborah, but he was a well known flirt. LOL
    Weird coincidence but Ben Franklin was also the only major scientist who supported Christiaan Huygens' wave theory of light, which was basically ignored by the rest of the scientific community. I only mention that because I was talking about light waves in chat.

    Didn't you say you like history? I do.

    I am so far off topic.

    I think the "Self understanding 101" series will be beneficial to you and others.

  2. Jaime, thanks for your feedback. No, I'm not a big history buff - I'm more oriented towards the math and sciences. :)

    Here's to finding and adapting our healing grooves! Oh, wow, so cheesy, but it's late at night.