Mending Broken Dreams: Spiritual Healing After Abuse
Topic: Spiritual Healing
Mending Broken Dreams: Spiritual Healing After Abuse
I’d like to preface this talk by letting you know that I am not a medical doctor, nor am I a psychologist. I am a doctor of naturopathy, meaning that I have been trained in traditional methods of natural healing and health. I am also an ordained minister. This is the perspective from which I will be speaking to you today. Nothing I say is intended to take the place of the advice of a medical doctor or licensed psychologist.
I work from a holistic viewpoint, meaning that when addressing any condition, I work towards the end of bringing the physical, spiritual and emotional realms into balance, regardless of how the problem presents itself. Wellness comes with the balance of these three aspects of being.
I believe that we were given everything that we need to heal from the very beginning. It is my belief that with enough faith along with the proper application of natural methods, there is no condition which cannot be healed. Oh, and by the way…”enough” faith means about the size of a grain of mustard seed! That’s all!
It is my hope that I will in some way be able to help even one person. This is my most earnest prayer
It is very difficult, if not impossible, to completely heal physically if there is a need for a spiritual healing which is not attended to. This is the part of us from which springs forth our life. In cases where abuse has occurred, there is always a need for the Spirit to be brought back into balance and healed. I always consider the needs of the Spirit, even when problems appear to be purely physical in nature, because oftentimes, there is an underlying spiritual cause.
Religion and Spirituality are two completely different things, although issues involving religion can certainly play a big part in how we view or express our spiritual selves.
Religion is a system of belief and practice as set down according to man. It is something we follow, something we belong to, a certain way of looking at things. But it is only a part of our lives due to whatever importance we give it. It is not actually a part of us.
Spirituality, on the other hand, is a part of us. It's a part of who we are. Actually, it is the essence of our true selves.
Our sense of spirituality is our awareness of our true nature...Our realization that we or not merely our bodies...that sense of knowing, somehow, there's more.
It's the part of us which believes in that which is not seen by the eye, but in that which is evidenced through life and it's events. It's that part of us that knows better when we do something wrong, not because we're afraid to get caught, but because we want to do right. It's the part of us that wonders what is the meaning of life, where we came from, and what will happen to us after we die.
Spirituality is the part of us that still believes in the Ultimate Power of Good, and that wishes and dreams can come true.
Spirituality is the love in our heart, and that feeling of oneness with others. It's the part of us that knows when we look to the sky that there is something bigger than us, even if it's just planets and stars. It's the part that feels humble and meek.
Spirituality is the part of us which is a part of the whole. It's the part that connects us with everyone else in the world. It's our unique and individual expression of life.
In actuality, this is the part of us that's perfect; the part that is created equal in all; the part that was created in the image and likeness of God. But make no mistake, this part of us can be in pain, and it can surely bring problems with health, as it's implications reach far into the physical and emotional realms.
How does this part of ourselves get damaged if it is perfect? Well, our Spirit doesn’t actually get damaged, but rather our perception of ourselves as Spiritual beings and the way we relate to the world, and to love, and to God. This can particularly occur when we are treated as if we are of no value by people we love and in whom we trust. This type of pain goes deeper than emotional pain. It cuts to the core of our identity--who we believe ourselves to actually be. We allow someone else to decide this for us through the trauma and shock of abuse.
When we are born, we know who we are. We are not confused until we enter the world of confusing and conflicting ideas! It is then that we begin to question our place in this world, why we came here, why we have to ask to be fed and to be held, and why we sometimes are told we are "bad."
If abuse occurs, of any type, be it physical, emotional, sexual, or spiritual abuse, problems with our physical health can result. These problems might include high blood pressure, heart problems, allergies, substance abuse, eating disorders, headaches, immune system problems, and a myriad of other things. Links to tumors have even been found!
Similarly, our spiritual nature can be deeply wounded. Chronic fear, low self-esteem, and self-hate can develop, with feelings of worthlessness, self-doubt and mistrust of others. Depression and anxiety often set in.
Rather than using drugs to correct these problems, I suggest we instead look to the spiritual roots of the problem, and address it from that angle first. Again, I am not a medical doctor nor a licensed psychologist, and nothing I say is intended to replace the advice that they give. I am merely suggesting that we work to heal from the inside out.
Abuse can be devastating at any age, but when abuse occurs as a child, it can be especially deeply embedded into the sense of self. Heck, plain everyday living with people and all their moods can be hard on a kid just trying to form a sense of identity in relation to everything and everyone else in the world, even without anything which could be termed as "abuse.” Their spirits are very fragile and impressionable, and they need to be handled with love.
There are all types of abuse. Treating someone like a servant, or as if they are incompetent, verbal humiliation and degradation, accusations of mental illness, destroying belongings, isolating the victim, withdrawing financial support, institutionalizing the victim, or making threats of any kind…These are all forms of emotional abuse. These tactics are attempts to gain control over others, and they begin the process of victimization. Recurring emotional abuse is extremely common. Verbal humiliation may well be the batter’s most powerful coercive technique.
Control is at the root of abuse, which is defined as, “a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, designed to dominate and control another person so the abuser gets his or her own way.”
Physical abuse picks up where emotional abuse lets off. It begins with threats of violence, and escalates into behaviors such as throwing or breaking objects, restraining or shoving the victim, and actually hitting, biting, kicking, burning, strangling, pushing down stairs, and the use of weapons.
Physical abuse is the most immediately dangerous type of abuse. Domestic violence accounts for 1.6 million deaths worldwide each year…probably more.
Sexual abuse, likewise, can take many forms, and includes such behaviors as withholding birth control, forced abortion, forced viewing or acting out of pornographic scenes, all the way to out and out rape. Sexual abuse can also include attempts to humiliate the victim, or infringing upon their privacy.
Spiritual abuse is another type of abuse. Spiritual abuse is not a sexual thing, although sexual abuse in churches, temples, and mosques of all religions is a much larger problem than most people have any idea.
It is important to realize that RELIGION IS A MAN-MADE INSTITUTION! The people who work in places of worship, whether priests, pastors, rabbis, youth ministers, whatever...are just PEOPLE. They are people, subject to making mistakes. If you put these people up on a pedestal, you set yourself up for confusion, disappointment and hurt.
What spiritual abuse actually is, is an attempt at controlling another through the misuse of authority by spiritual leaders. It demands unquestioning loyalty to it’s tenets and leaders, and any dissent is suppressed. Spiritual abuse occurs when the purpose of the spiritual relationship is distorted, and the vulnerable are thus victimized.
Spiritual abuse can also occur outside of the place of worship, using anyone’s spiritual beliefs against them in an effort to control through spiritual fear, or using a person’s religious or spiritual beliefs to manipulate them. Preventing the partner from practicing their religious or spiritual beliefs is another form of this type of abuse, as is ridiculing the other person’s religious or spiritual beliefs, or forcing the children to be reared in a faith that the partner has not agreed to.
If you suspect that any type of abuse has occurred, you need to recognize and deal with it in an environment outside the place of abuse. It is easy to get wrapped up in an abusive cycle without even realizing that it is happening to us, and it can have profoundly devastating effects.
It is not unusual when abuse has occurred for the victim to feel angry with God, or to turn the anger inward. It is advisable to seek spiritual help. Oftentimes someone else can lend perspective when things look so bleak and grim, especially in times of great loss. Whenever there is abuse, there is loss, because something very precious was taken from us…Our ability to feel safe and secure. It is important in healing to reach out and establish a relationship with someone you are able to trust.
This could be someone from your own religion, if you should have one, or someone who's spiritual ideals you admire. If you need someone to listen and offer input and suggestions as to ways in which you can begin to heal, please feel free to contact me, and if I can’t help you, I will help you find someone who can, or at least try to help you sort it all out just a bit.
Whether you do or whether you don't attend any type of religious program, it is helpful to discuss issues regarding religion and spirituality, exploring different ideas, and forming a network of spiritually like-minded friends. It is not necessary to go to church, per se, but it is helpful in developing and nurturing this part of ourselves to set aside time for just that...time to honor and explore the spiritual aspects of life.
Being a part of a spiritual group can help you to form a support network, it can provide avenues for study, and it can help to remind you to live by practices which are in accordance with what you believe. It can be a very good thing. As a matter of fact, there has even been research to show that people who attend church regularly have far less problems with health!
Something else that has proven time and again to be effective in helping us to recognize the power of good in our lives is to spend time doing volunteer work. It is good to get out of our own problems sometimes, and to help others, instead. It makes our problems not seem so big, and it gives us a sense of purpose to be able to help someone else.
And if you REALLY want to give a boost to your spiritual state of well-being, try giving in secret! It works! Practice doing good things to benefit others, and not letting ANYONE know!
The more we reach outside of ourselves to help, the more we realize we have something to give. And strangely enough, it comes back! We also realize through helping others, that there is no shame in needing help, too.
Minimizing the importance of our particular problems is not to say they're not hard, and it is not in any way meant to imply that we are not important! We are! But no matter how big our problems are, they're really quite small in the big scope of things. We surely have the strength to get through with support. It’s okay to reach out for help.
It is very important to nurture the spiritual self. Look to that part of yourself as being sacred...It is! Treat yourself with respect, and with care, just like you would treat someone you love very much.
Time spent in quiet, reflecting on the good things in life, or just listening to the still small voice within is especially important to awakening this part of ourselves. Practice increasing your awareness throughout the day, by looking for spiritual solutions to everyday problems, like applying faith, forgiveness, compassion, and love. Honesty honors the spiritual part of ourselves, as does integrity, too. It's important to learn to be comfortable with who we are, what we think, and how we feel at any given moment in time. There's no need to hide our true selves.
Spiritual healing has to do with coming to believe that we're precious...the way we were created to be! It has to do with being happy with who we are. It has to do with loving ourselves, loving each other, being in love with all of life and the world!
Spiritual healing has to do with opening the channels of healing and love. It has to do with forgiveness and peace.
Forgiveness is a topic of great importance in healing. Love is the energy which heals us, and to block this energy is to deny our own healing. God is the great healer, and I believe God is Love.
In practicing forgiveness in situations involving abuse, it can be very difficult to forgive the abuser. Forgiveness, however, does not mean that what they did was okay. Abuse is never okay! Forgiveness means not hating the person, or holding them outside of God’s circle of love. To forgive does not mean that you have to be involved with the person. In cases of abuse, it’s often better to forgive from far away.
Forgiveness simply means recognizing that the abuser is sick, and praying for their recovery as well as your own. That is all. It is to wish the person would not behave in that way any more, and it is recognizing that something must be terribly wrong for a person to act in that way. It is praying for them to be healed.
Again, this does NOT imply that you should become re-involved with the person, nor does it mean that it doesn’t matter that you were hurt! Forgiveness also does not mean that you should not take any applicable steps to gain retribution. Not revenge…nothing fueled by anger or hate…but seeking retribution is fine, in the way of legal measures and such. It is okay to have someone arrested, to have them barred from your presence, or to have them repay you for damages done. You can do all of this and still forgive.
And don’t forget about forgiving you, too! Part of the cycle of abuse is the tendency of the victim to blame themselves. This is the intent of the abuser, and in a sense, the victim is brainwashed to believe it’s their fault. It is not!
Even if you did things that provoked the attack. Even if you did not act your best in response. Abuse is never deserved. NO one has it coming to them!
A sense of hopelessness can set in with abuse, but please don't give up on yourself, and don't give up on your dreams. Maybe you just need to take another look at what's good in you and the world. Believe in yourself, believe in your dreams, and believe in the power of truth, goodness, and love in your life and the world!
Here are ten points to consider in implementing your program of spiritual health and recovery after abuse:
1. Develop an attitude of gratitude! Look for the good in your life...in yourself, in others, and in every circumstance. It is there! Make a habit of keeping a list!
2. Strive to practice forgiveness, of yourself and others. Again, this is not to imply that you should remain involved with the perpetrator, but it is to say that it is spiritually helpful to you to practice internal forgiveness of them, considering them as a sick person, and praying for them to be well. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Be sure to practice self-forgiveness, as well, because the root of the ongoing problem lies in the tendency to blame oneself for the abuse.
3. Find some way to be of useful service to others, either through volunteer work or else just making a special effort to do something to help someone else on a regular basis. Try giving in secret!
4. Exercise your creative talents. Creativity connects us with our spiritual self.
5. Spend time in silence each day and become comfortable with the stillness within. Make this a sacred time.
6. Surround yourself with positive, encouraging people! Allow yourself be loved until you can learn to love yourself once again.
7. Nurture your goodness and be your own best friend. Healing requires that we learn to practice self-love. Speak words of love to yourself, and pamper yourself by allowing yourself time to relax and partake in activities which you enjoy.
8. Seek answers to the questions that point to your purpose and to the meaning of life, for this will give you something to cling to at times when you otherwise might want to give up.
9. Ask for help when you need it…and especially when you don’t think you do.
10. Strive to live in accordance with principles of honesty, integrity, and love, and within the tenets of your own beliefs. This will help you to stand strong in a position of self-respect.
In conclusion, allow me to give you just a few natural health tips which might help you to remove spiritual blocks.
1. Flower remedies. God gave us flowers to heal the spirit and the emotions. Flower remedies are intended to help open channels of healing which are blocked by fear and resistance to love. Flower remedies work differently than essential oils, but the two work very nicely together. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a personal consultation to determine which remedies might work best for you.
2. Whole organic raw foods and herbs to bring about balance and strengthen the constitution. Root vegetables to stay grounded, especially if very depressed.
3. Massage and other body work techniques can help to release deep rooted memories and pain which is trapped in our bodies. Be sure to drink plenty of water when undergoing massage for this purpose, as toxic chemicals are likely to be released along with the negative energy which is being discharged. Also, be sure the massage is performed in a spirit of trust and the deepest respect.
4. Breathing exercises have been used throughout the ages to help us connect with our inner spirit. You can try simple breathing techniques on your own, or consult with a professional regarding techniques designed to release spiritual pain.
5. Vibrational healing techniques are especially effective in helping to break through the blocks that abuse can create. These include such techniques as color, light and sound healing, as well as visualization and prayer,
The important thing to remember is that you were created perfect in the vision of God, and that perfect in that you will remain until the end of all time. Open your heart and allow yourself to be healed. Just open your heart and give thanks!
May all your broken dreams be mended by Love.
Naturally Yours in Good Health,
Mary Jo (Jody) Eshelman, ND, CTN, CNHP, D.D.
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