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She was my first twelve-step-program sponsor. She, too, was a survivor. One of the first questions she asked me was, "How do you treat yourself?"
Was she crazy? I wanted to talk about how OTHER people treated me. What does how I treat myself have to do with healing? Her next question answered my question before I could ask it out loud:
"If the broken parts of you transformed into a little girl, how would say you treat her? Describe this in a journal and then read it to me next week."
As I wrote, it became apparent that I did not take good care of myself. I denied myself water when I was thirsty. I put off bathroom breaks, food, and rest, until I had completed the task at hand. During leisure time, I watched television shows about abuse that merely exploited survivors and perpetuated the fear that the damage of abuse cannot be redeemed. (And yes, I include Oprah in this category. Another blog for another time.)
Without realizing it, I'd taken on the role of passive abuser--by way of neglect, long after the active-abuse had ended. I wouldn't think of neglecting a child, and yet I denied myself many basic human needs. I determined to take baby steps toward gaining strength and dignity. Here there are, Dignity 101:
- Nourish your body. Do not skip meals. Schedule a time to eat something healthy.
- Drink water regularly. Keep a bottle of water on hand. (The rule of thumb for water is: one half of your body weight in ounces per day).
- Gotta go? GO.
- Honor bedtime. Allow yourself 6-8 hours of sleep. What doesn't get done today, can be completed tomorrow.
Simple, but not easy. Try it. And be ready to journal the vast array of emotions that will arise. Physically caring for yourself will have a tremendous impact on your emotional and spiritual well-being. Repeat after me: I'm worth it.
I encourage you to take a quick inventory of how you treat yourself each day. And then ask yourself: If I were caring for a little girl, would that child flourish under my under supervision? Do I meet her needs or do I neglect her? If you don't like your answers, simply ask God for the strength and grace to take better care of yourself. And then, put a practical plan on paper.
Next Tuesday, we'll talk about what to look for in a good counselor. May the Lord direct your steps today and everyday. And remember, every step you take in a healthy direction, is a step toward more freedom than you can imagine. It's yours, so get moving.
Published on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 @ 9:40 AM CDT