If you don’t read anything else in this post, please read the last paragraph “If you’re noticing …”. It might even be a message you feel compelled to share with a friend in need.
Though I joined SNAP (Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests) more than a year ago, I haven’t been active and certainly never joined any of the support groups they offer. But recently I joined an online SNAP support group and suggested to a close friend that he might consider joining such a group. He himself had been sexually abused when he was younger, albeit by a family member. His response surprised me. He said that he wasn’t interested because ‘the past was the past and there’s no sense digging it up.’ This got me to thinking; should I not do it? Does he have a point? Am I sadistic because I joined such a group? Why would I even consider the idea of joining a support group? His response really got me thinking and these questions, and more, whirled around in my head. Questions & doubts that I needed to answer. As elementary as they may be, these are my answers to some of those questions.
The thing that drove me to finally joining a SNAP support group, after not being active for more than a year, is because I recognize that even after all the work I’ve done on my recovery journey, I still have thoughts and behaviors that are not good. The consequences of abuses that I suffered as a child are still having negative impacts on my life in ways that harm relationships and worse. It’s obvious that I am not capable of dealing with those consequences on my own or there wouldn’t even be a question. That’s the pattern that I am wise to recognize and must do something about, for my own quality of life (including relationships) and maybe even survival itself. I would recommend reading an earlier post that explains why “The Effects of Sexual Abuse Never Go Away”.
But this is not my first rodeo. I’ve been in and out of therapy for years though it feels like eternity. In/out of individual therapy with psychologists, participated in several 12 step programs and “focused” support groups, and have even been under the care of a psychiatrist off and on. Still, I feel a certain amount of shame in seeking help: worried what will others think (though I’m casting that off with this blog. I don’t even like to ask for tech support help! But, I’m getting old enough to care less); wondering what is wrong with me that I even need help; where did I miss the boat? Also, needing help to cope with life doesn’t fit my expectations of what life should look like.
There’s no shame in turning outside of oneself for help, though it might be natural to feel that way. It’s a mistake to compare myself with others. I really don’t know what others are going through, but believe that everyone has their own stuff they are dealing with. Some people have better tools to deal with the stuff that life throws at them. For others, including myself, it seems a lifelong struggle learning the skills to have healthier relationships, even my relationship with myself; getting those negative thoughts to quiet down, changing those negative behaviors.
What’s the evidence that group is beneficial for me? After my first group meeting with SNAP I felt uplifted. Everybody in this online group had a chance to share in the meeting. Hearing their stories let me know that I really was with people that get it. That made it safe for me to share what I needed to share in that moment and that was a bit freeing.
We’re all in different places on our journey through this life. If we want to live a fuller life or to even cope with life, then we have an obligation to do what we need to do to take the next step, baby steps, one foot in front of the other. What my life looks like and what your life looks like will be different depending on many factors; not the least of which is the environment we grew up in and our genetic makeup. So, our challenges are different, what’s easy for you may be difficult for me. While it’s okay to be happy with where one is in their life, the opposite is true as well.
If you’re noticing thoughts/behaviors that adversely affect areas of your life, it’s okay to look outside yourself for help. There are many places to turn; friends, family, therapists, 12 step programs, religious/spiritual leaders, crises hot lines, specialized support groups, psychiatrists, books, any combination of these, or something else that works for you. What works for one person may not work for another. The important thing is to find what works for you. Just do it!
Thanks for reading.
Wishing you much love and peace,
“Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” ― Mother Teresa
Pope Francis, I appeal you to meet the needs of survivors of clergy sexual abuse by making reparations commensurate with the damage, emotional or otherwise, caused to survivors. I have ideas on how to do this. If you can’t do this, then I respectfully ask, on behalf of the Church, you to stop receiving communion until such time that the Church does. Because until the Church does, it will not be in communion with the saints. Sincere contrition is meaningless without reparations in kind. Demonstrate to the world that the Catholic Church is catholic; that is, the Church Jesus established with Peter as the rock, the first pope; that the Church practices what it preaches.
Ps: Have words of encouragement or a testimony to share? Does/has this blog helped you in some way? Know of additional, valuable resources? Suggestions for topics? Post a comment or you can also send me a private message by using the “Contact” page on my website or message me on FB.
Consider sharing this blog with others. Victim/survivors of abuses, more often than not, carry this burden silently alone, not knowing how to deal with it or where to turn, but need hope. Loved ones and caregivers also need support. We never know who is or wants to reach out for help. This blog might be of help to caregivers and loved ones of abuse. Silence is deadly and if together we are able to help or save just one life, isn’t that worth it?
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It has been great to meet and talk with you Matt… I look forward to reading long or short versions of any topic, story, thoughts or emotions you touch on.. I hope they help other survivors in their healing journey.. I know talking about it helps me.. be well !
The other day I shared a story on FB about losing two teeth in an accident, and someone said everything isn’t everyone’s business. I said, it was a burden and shame I was holding onto and I no longer wanted to carry it. God told me to turn over my burdens and turn them into … Continue reading Tamirra H.
In reaching out to others, you are Christ’s hands. It takes courage and broad shoulders. I will continue to pray that the Holy Spirit guide those open hands into a thriving ministry…Don’t let yourself fail prey to discouragement. It may be your calling. God bless you!