This is an excerpt from chapter 19, The Little Steps In Healing. Please see page 243 of my book, Overcoming A Mysterious Condition.
Sometimes in healing from childhood sexual abuse, trauma, or other challenges it feels like the mountain before us is too big to climb. In reality, it is the little steps that matter.
When I was facing the horrible moments of realizing all I had been through in my life, I wanted it over quickly. I wanted to be healed, and I wanted to forget. No part of it was fun or welcomed. It was pure torment and hell.
Not only did I have to live through all these horrible experiences of trauma and sexual abuse, but now in order to heal, I had to once again stare them in the face. It often felt to me as if it was a double whammy. I have known many others that felt the same way as I did.
Little Steps Make Bigger Steps
Yes, I do want the big steps, but to get to them, I must experience the small ones. Small steps make the bigger steps.
When I was paralyzed, I wanted to walk again and, in my mind, I knew I could. I was not about to let the conversion disorder stop me in my tracks although I remember looking up at the hospital room ceiling and wondering if this was all my life would be.
The little steps to get walking included learning how to roll over and sit up. They included how to balance myself, how to get into a wheelchair, and how to use my arms to guide me so I could take a step. They included learning how to stand and hold myself up without support. Even after taking a few movements in walking, I had to learn how to go a few feet and then stop to rest. Next, I had to learn how to get to the bathroom in my hospital room which seemed like a million miles away at the time.
Soon, I was walking to the door of the room and then a few feet down the hall. The little steps I took were what got me to the point of walking regularly like I once did. There was no getting to the final result without going through the individual moments. These steps did not happen overnight, and it was a slow progression each day.
When I first started to have anxiety attacks, I freaked out. I didn’t know what was happening to me, but I found myself hiding under a blanket on my couch. If I got very far outside the house, or around people, or to my job, I’d feel like I couldn’t breathe. I would collapse and fall to the floor. My coworkers would lay me down on a couch at the office, and when I came to, they would take me home.
At first, the little steps included going on medication. I had no way to deal with anxiety, and so it was the only thing I could do to help get things under control. My little steps included allowing a friend to do some grocery shopping for me because being in a store more than five minutes meant I would faint and be on the floor.
The little steps included going into a store about five minutes before they closed, and the minute I felt like I could take no more, hurrying out the door. The little steps included going to therapy and group counseling to learn more about how to deal with life. I limited sugar and caffeine and chocolate in my diet to help me in dealing with the anxiety, and I learned to take more time out for relaxation. Those were the small steps.
Carrying A Small Rock
I learned to carry a small rock that was special to me in my pocket so when I felt anxious, I could grab ahold of it without anyone knowing and ground myself to it. While I didn’t understand what grounding meant at the time, I knew that the rock felt safe to me. The little steps of learning that I was not going to die from an anxiety attack began to help me reframe how my mind saw these things. Without all these little steps and more, I would not have gotten to the point where I am today in my healing.
The little steps included finding someone to talk to that became one of the most beloved and helpful therapists I know. Other steps like writing and journaling helped me pour my heart out when I knew no one would see it. Meeting other survivors and getting involved in advocacy and support, plus helping to be there for others in online message boards were more of the little steps I took. Stepping up and staring FEAR down was part of my progress. There were so many little things I did, but the more I did the little stuff, I healed my life in bigger ways.
Little Steps Gave Me Tools To Help
I think back to all the little steps I took and how they helped me, not forgetting the lessons they taught me. All those little steps helped give me the tools to continue my healing and become more than I thought I could be. The little steps became the tools in my toolbox.
It took many years and a lot of little steps to get to the point where I am today. However, sometimes I still have moments where the memories try to take me down. The memories of the past are horrible and the body memories are much worse. I’ve woken up screaming in the night. I’ve lost many nights of sleep and felt like a zombie most of the day because of the memories. There were moments where I would have given up my life if I thought they would end. In fact, I did try to end my life and it never helped.
For the continuation of Chapter 19, see my book, Overcoming A Mysterious Condition.