Earlier this week I had the honor of making a presentation to a “Mourning and Healing” class. The class consisted of psychology graduate students who will be PhD’s and counseling people in the future. I used my life’s story as survivor of childhood sexual abuse as the subject matter for the presentation.
This was my first opportunity on this journey to present my story in the format that I have envisioned. I was fully prepared so I was not nervous but I had a tremendous amount of anxiety and adrenaline. I was so excited to tell my story, see how it would be received and get feedback on my story. What better group than a group of psychology grad students to present to for the first time?
The total time for the presentation was about 90 minutes consisting of my 60 minute presentation and a 30 minute Q & A session. The program could not have been received any more positively! The group was smart, gracious and asked smart and challenging questions.
One of the questions I was asked was “What do you think healing looks like?” I found this to be a great question but a difficult one to answer. I think that healing is an ongoing lifelong process. I think you have to enter the process with the understanding that you will recover and heal but you will never be the same. How could you ever be the same if an event that is so severe that you must mourn and heal from it? If a person close to you passes away you may recover from it but just the fact that they are not in your life anymore things are eternally different. In my case, I am recovering from the sexual abuse but I will never completely be the person that I would have been had the abuse not occurred. Now that is not necessarily a bad thing. Difficult journeys can make you a stronger or better person.
The experience of telling my ‘complete’ life story was awesome. I speak in the presentation about living two lives and not having a voice as a result of my voice being slowly silenced over the years of abuse. The two lives as a kid was one as an abused child and the other as a good student who was popular with his friends. As an adult the two lives were one as an abuse survivor and the other as a leader, mentor, entrepreneur, friend, husband, father and coach. At all points in my life I have kept those lives separate because I feared the shame of the abused life would ruin my other life.
The presentation allowed me to push those two lives together. While I was speaking I realized that I had the opportunity to live one life with nothing to hide. I also realized the power in open communication and the power I have to influence the lives of others. What an awesome and powerful feeling! I thank God for the opportunity.
The question on healing was only one of many questions asked. I will touch on some of the other questions in upcoming posts.
That’s All I Got!