Archive for February 17, 2014

With Each New Memory I Feel Better and Worse


I know that feeling so well. A letter from a woman who follows this website’s postings wrote me a letter. I love it when those of you who read my posts connect with me by email.

When people who have benefited from my book write to me, it fulfills the reason I wrote Confessions of a Trauma Therapist in the first place. That is, I wanted to use my personal experience and my professional wisdom to guide others in their healing journeys. Everyone’s journey is different, but a number of struggles are common to all of us who are recovering from childhood abuse. When no one writes to me, I’ve no idea if I’m actually reaching and helping people out there.
Here is part of this brave woman’s letter:
I have just read your book: Confessions of a Trauma Therapist.
I too am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of my father.
I have found your book so helpful.  It’s like a ‘roadmap’ for me, helping to validate many of the strange, unusual and unpleasant feelings that I’ve been experiencing for at least 20 years!
It’s also useful for me to gauge from your book, the broad series of steps and stages that may lie ahead for me in my recovery journey.
I am 40 years old.  I am a wife and mother to two girls.
My memories of childhood sexual abuse have only recently surfaced.  It is a very challenging time.  I can relate so much to what you said in your book:
‘With each new memory of sexual abuse I felt better and worse.  Better because life made more sense.  Worse because I was forced to give up another chunk of my personal history.  I was not who I thought I was.’

In a future post I’ll tell you more about her efforts to heal. She wrote a letter to her parents, the sort of letter you don’t mail. More of that later.

Meanwhile, please write if you’ve been helped or have something to share with others.

She Was a Good Listener

The other day I was reading the obituaries in the newspaper. An elderly woman had died and her grandchildren were writing an essay to tell what they missed about her. I was interested in the fact that they especially missed her listening skills. Too often, the gift of a really good listener is underestimated.

How many of us ever get listened to by someone who has no agenda but simply wants to know what it’s like to be living in our skin: someone who isn’t just waiting for her turn to speak?

Would you like to be good listener, that rare being who knows how to listen in a way that allows the other person to figure out her life issues by herself? That happens if we honestly listen.

Here are the rules for empathic listening:

  • Don’t try to “fix” the other person
  • Don’t give advice
  • Don’t ask questions
  • Don’t tell your own similar story – or something you’re reminded of.

Strange as it may seem, when we truly listen to the other person, he or she finds her own uniquely right answers.