The wound is where the light enters.
It is possible to heal the brain from this trauma wound. The body will coordinate with the brain to digest a former trigger as a thing of the past, not a haunting reality that threatens you today. It changes the understanding of the traumatic event. You can then begin to see the event as a separate event from a broken person, rather than a fact that wraps itself around the identity of you, the survivor.
Through nurturing activity and therapeutic mind–body practice, the body can begin to disagree with the powerlessness it once felt. It can disagree with the shame and the silence. It knows now to fight those shame messages and reconstruct itself one neuropathway and newly created brain cell at a time.
In my book (arriving, Fall 2015), I discuss the redemptive and miraculous reality of neuroplasticity. The brain can heal. “Neuroplasticity,” or “brain plasticity,” refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses that are due to changes in behavior, environment, and neural processes as well as changes resulting from bodily injury.
We can get back what was taken in the sexual violation. The adage that neurons that fire together wire together is true regarding trauma. But here’s the good news: it’s also true that when we take the control back through deliberate self-nurturing practices and mind–body or somatic therapies, the fact that neurons that fire together wire together also heals us.
My book also dives into ways we can engage neural tuning and develop the areas that have atrophied under the hypervigilance we have felt was our destiny.
The end result of this journey of feeling and coming back to your senses is that you believe that all parts of yourself are precious and uniquely made for eternal purpose. The child who was hurt and used, or the young woman who was assaulted and left to put the pieces together, becomes the beloved and nurtured princess warrior, who speaks, who fights, and who wants to give back to herself what was taken without permission.
You will be heard by your maker, who follows your voice till he finds you in the forest of your choices and experiences—lost and alone. But you, dear princess warriors, must cry out. You must say, “Help! I don’t want to be here! Help me! Show me you are here! I want more! I want hope! I want healing! I want my power and design restored to me!”
Those who wake up to their own needs are blessed with answers. Those who say, “I don’t want to live under this weight, continue to use drugs and alcohol, injure myself, live with this violating and abusive guy, subsist on this job, say yes when I want to say no …” will be heard.
As I write this, please know that I do not pretend to know exactly how you feel, but I write to let you know that you are heroic when you scream out, “I don’t want to be here anymore! I want out!”
You have to give yourself permission to engage the choice to heal. You are an individual strong enough to read this blog, to seek truth, and to allow the doubt, pain, and loneliness to surface. Ask that the hand of God, made flesh in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose friendship remains in the Holy Spirit, visit you in your daily life, in your senses, and in the way you think.
Mary Ellen Mann is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Denver (visit www.manncounselinggroup.com). After attending a Christian college, she did her graduate work at Columbia University. Recently she co-founded Last Battle, LLC and helped develop the first interactive website for survivors of sexual violation, www.lastbattle.org, to help survivors, family and friends of survivors, Christian leaders, and professionals who care about this population. Her book, From Pain to Power will be on the market September 22, 2015. Mary Ellen lives in Denver with her husband and their two sons.