Month of Celebrating Life: Jump

24. jump

Here I am in mid-jump. Reflecting on the word jump and what it means in my life right now and on my healing path I realized that today the word means action, taking action, doing. Of course the word jump is used positively and negatively. You can jump in and do something you have wanted to do for a long time or you can not look before you leap kind of jumping. So I focused on the positive kind of jumping today.

Doing has been a huge focus of my healing for the last couple of years. Going out and practicing being a pack leader, calm and assertive, in charge of my own life, occupying my own space, in control of my own choices. Doing things that are good and fun and taking care to do my self-care and reaching out to others, interacting with other survivors of childhood abuse, making new friends, being a support for others and learning better how to make friends and to be giving and good and loving and kind to them. Those kinds of jumps are good and have brought so much healing and love into my life. I think I’ll jump some more.

This Year in Healing

One thing I’ve noticed over the years of healing from child sexual abuse is that the issues are often the same as in the past, but I often find myself on a different level from year to year. This past year I’ve seen a lot of movement on several issues. There are other issues of healing that I’ve done very little work on this year, but I think there has been progress because of the specific issues that I have purposely been working on. Usually each new year brings a re-assessment of where I am and where I want to go in my life and my healing work.

One lesson that I’ve re-learned strongly this year is one that I’ve learned most years of my life and especially in my healing, if it doesn’t work for you, find something else.There is no shame in that, though often others, their expectations, their judgments, and their words make us feel ashamed and different, unacceptable and unwilling to change and heal.

There are tons of self-help stuff out there, tons of therapists, and tons of therapy techniques and tools. We’ve probably all heard about them. We’ve probably each tried tons of things to get better, handle our daily life, cope, and deal with our past of childhood sexual abuse, the aftermath of abuse, and our present life.

Yes changing and healing are hard, but we need the right tool or tools at the right time. We need to learn the new tool and learn how to use the tool. We need time and practice and patience to work our new tool, until it is a familiar tool and we become comfortable and used to it, until it is a tool we reach for unconsciously when we need it.

From where we are at in our healing often we don’t know what to do, we think of several things that we can try, our therapist or books or friends or others can suggest. We are at one knowledge level and one skill level but others, especially therapists and survivor friends, can be at many other levels and give us of their compassion, advice, knowledge, wisdom, love, and acceptance. Temper what they say with where you are at in your life and healing. They might not know everything about where you are at. You might not know everything about where you are at either. But trust yourself when one thing isn’t working in healing to try other things. This is what I have been trying to do this year. Now I strongly believe in finding the right tools for the right job and making my healing a personal one-of-a-kind personalized healing project.

We aren’t unwilling to change and heal. We just need the right tools at the right time. We need help and acceptance by those who care about us and our healings, friends who love us and envision us as a healer, working on ourselves to change and grow. We can heal even without any of those things, but we come to a place in healing where we know we deserve to have what works best for us, in our life, in our healing, and in our present and future.

I was having a problem recently with my bicycle seat. It wouldn’t stay tightened and would often loosen up, moving around as I was biking. I went through some of my packed boxes and found the tools I needed to tighten up the nut and bolts, but for some reason it needed tightening almost every time I rode it. I thought what I needed was new bolts and went and bought them, replaced them. But what I really needed, I discovered, because that did not fix the problem was a different nut, one that was wider and I needed wider bolts as well. Seriously problem solving this type of stuff is beyond my skill level, but I figured I had to figure it out or pay someone else to do it and that is not what I normally do, if I can avoid it.

So adjusting the bolts did not solve the problem and replacing the bolts did not solve the problem. It looked like the problem, but the problem was something else. This is a lot like what life is like. This is a lot like what healing is like. If you work hard on one area and there is no improvement, it is okay to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Maybe it’s something else, maybe there is another way to approach the problem, maybe there is a work around, maybe you can do things that sort of short circuit the issue and allow you to just do things.

What I have learned last year, 2011, is to discover what I am already connected to, what I want to be connected to, and what I might want to become connected to. Connectedness has become a healing tool in my life this past year. I used to feel untethered. I think that most survivors of child sexual abuse feel untethered. I don’t feel comfortable with grounding or groundedness work, so finally instead I hit on the idea of working on connectedness. When I am upset I find myself thinking of my favorite library, the downtown Minneapolis library. It helps me feel connected to something solid, good, loveable, and caring. Connectedness brought me so much, an awareness that I have a solid core. I didn’t know I had a solid core before, I didn’t know anything about being solid to my core. Doing my connectedness work brought me that awareness recently. It was a huge step in healing for me to find myself with a solid core. This is the core that I was able to work from this last year.

I have sort of devoted this year in healing to be about doing and being. I had huge issues of anxiety and fears that continued to control me and much of my daily life. I didn’t have a lot of healing tools that I was comfortable with and that really helped me with these areas. My work with biking with the doggies gave me lots of opportunities to work on being the pack leader, with no fear, no weak emotion, just feelings of competence and leadership. This is often a moment by moment challenge and still is. However I have found when you find the right tool, it fits comfortably in your hand and your learning process is pleasant as well as challenging.

Doing good things for myself has always been difficult for me, a huge challenge in my life. I didn’t realize that approaching this issue from another angle would help me with these challenges. Sometimes you need to do something different and go in a different direction to get to where you want to go. Healing is like that. Establishing my connectedness and my leadership in my own life have become an excellent platform for diving off of into the waters of doing things and actitivities for myself(ves), my life, and my present and future.

If you can’t get to where you want to go from where you are, I hope you will try new tools. I’ll keep doing that and writing about that process and hoping that you will read and hoping that it will give you some suggestions, or help your mind to give you some suggestions, or help you bring the topic up to others and get some more ideas and tools. Modify, change, learn, grow, accept yourself if something works or it doesn’t, try something else, it is all a part of healing.

Failure an Inherent Part of Learning

Failure is an inherent part of learning. Failure is an inherent part of skill development. Failure is an inherent part of healing. Failure is an inherent part of life.

Since starting to work on healing from child sexual abuse I’ve read over and over how each person needs to fail in order to learn any skill. Even those who are prodigies must learn by trying and failing most every other skill in their life.

One story I’ve read many times over the years is that a baby doesn’t learn to walk just by standing up and walking. They totter, they fall, they get back up, they toddle, they learn over time through failure and practice to skill.

A lot of learning in a youngster’s life is through play. This is very obvious in any mammal’s growing up years. You see it on every documentary. A little cute animal practicing life skills through play that they will use later in life in order to survive. They look pretty cute playing at hunting, and not so cute later on when they are hunting other animals for food.

Children learn through being with other children. My nephew, who was an only child, used to talk to himself when he played. I’ve heard from others that their children have done the same. I suppose it helps them to develop their language skills through practice. I know that it helped my nephew.  Well he was also used to talking with adults, which really helped him develop many of his skills. But he never got over his frustrations from interacting with children younger than himself, until he had children of his own. Being a parent is one of the biggest challenges to developing life skills around. Being a survivor of childhood abuse is an even bigger challenge to and need for developing life skills.

I remember when I was in my Child Development course in college learning about the difference in boys and girls play. Boys focus in play with other boys in physical activities where they develop their motor skills in their large muscles like running and sports. Girls play with one another in physical activities where they develop their fine motor skills in their small muscle groups, when they do activities with their hands and fingers, like crafts and games. This difference isn’t a generalization, it is something discovered through child studies.

What the studies concluded was that girls worked on developing their fine motor skills because they were born with superior large motor skills and continue to be superior to boys through childhood in that area, hence the need to focus on developing the large muscle groups as much as boys needed to. Boys as a group did not have this physical advantage and so focused much more and longer on the development of large muscle activities to develop and learn those skills.

I suppose everybody is concerned about failure, even though those who are not child abuse survivors, though I think it is much more difficult for those of us who are survivors. The embarrassment and negative self-talk are hard to deal with as well as potentially negatively impacting self-esteem. Survivors of child sexual abuse have more negative self-talk and probably lower self-esteem than most children, making all of this much more difficult and challenging. Achieving a new skill can also increase a sense of accomplishment, self-confidence, and, self-esteem.

Most new skills are achieved through practicing the skill over and over. I think that the more that we do, no matter the result, the better for us overall. Very few of us start out with a wide range of skills that we are proficient at. Practice or doing the skill is the way that all of us learn. Some of us have deficits. Some of us have some skills. Some of us struggle with most skills. We start each day with the skills that we have and the skills that we don’t have, the ones that we will never need or want, and the ones that we desperately need to learn.

Look at it this way, the batting average in baseball is based on the number of hits divided by the number of at bats, or opportunities to achieve hits. According to wiki this means, “In modern times, a season batting average higher than .300 is considered to be excellent, and an average higher than .400 a nearly unachievable goal.” So some professional baseball players have a 30% success rate when batting and that is considered excellent. And that is after years of practice, doing, and honing and developing their skills. If only we could start thinking on that basis with our efforts at learning skills, healing, and life.

Doing

I am trying to start lots and lots of things and put aside my thoughts and feelings about the starting. I have been working on this for some time, but really plan on committing a lot of time to these efforts once I have moved.

We all compare ourselves to some of the best artists and their best works and to the most healed survivors of abuse or others who were never abused as children or someone else just from the outside looking in and concluding what they are dealing with without really knowing the truth of their inner life and inner struggles. Comparisons like that are very daunting for anyone and cause us all to fear and to pause and to not make small efforts that will slowly, but surely bring healing and competence into our lives.

It’s important to remember that no one starts out proficient at anything, except a very few rare exceptions. Most of us start out as true beginners. Starting and doing are valuable, no matter where we are on our skill levels. No one learns skills or develops proficiency without practicing, doing, effort.

One thing is certain if we don’t start, we will most likely remain in the same place and space. Another thing that is certain is that life and our own soul, and others, will keep bringing us around to face this and help encourage us into doing. Doing may not feel like a healing tool. But it is. Doing is one of the most essential parts of healing, and indeed, in life.