A LIFE COACH FOR SURVIVORS OF ABUSE AND/OR TORTURE
Recently I have been asked about my role and practice as a trauma and abuse life coach for survivors of abuse and/or torture. The question behind the question is usually related to therapy. Although I am clear in my writings on my website about the differences between life coaching and therapy, I would like to share a few of my thoughts regarding both therapy and life coaching.
Therapy has been an important part of my healing process. Three different therapists played major roles in my healing process … three men with various therapy styles and modalities. Looking back, I can see how each one filled an important niche for me at the time. It amazes me how life or providence or serendipity gives you what you need when you keep your eyes and heart open. The therapy process is insight-oriented and tends to look mostly at a person’s past as well as present and future. Life coaching (or my style of life coaching) tends to look at the present and the future.
In the following, I shall give a few examples of when or how people choose to begin life coaching as a survivor.
Maybe you have experienced a moment when you wonder if you can go any further in therapy, that maybe the work is completed, that you healed the past wounds enough and are living differently due to that healing; yet, you don’t feel ready to leave therapy. Something does not seem completed. Life coaching can be helpful while you are still in therapy. Issues brought up in our life coaching sessions might need to be dealt with during a session with your therapist. I would prefer your therapist was aware that you were seeking life coaching as an adjunct to your therapeutic process.
Or maybe you have even experienced a moment when your therapist says that he/she doesn’t think he/she can do anything further for you. An initial response to that may be that you have problems he/she cannot help you solve … but then you realize he/she is telling you that you are ready to be on your own. To know that your therapist sees you … good and bad … has fully listened to you for weeks, months, or years …. has seen growth in you … knows your inner thoughts and cyclical ruts … has seen you process into a healthier place … knows your spiritual depth (if that was part of your therapy process) … and now your therapist shares that you that you are ready to fly on your own …. Wow, that is a powerful moment in time as well as a possibly scary moment in time.
At this juncture, the option to stay in therapy may be possible. Deep down though, it is possible that you sense and know that you are ready to move forward without therapy. As you talk with you therapist about ending this helpful, healing relationship you have formed with him/her … you think of the buts. These may consist of any of the following:
But, I do not have the career I seek.
But, I’m not where I want to be spiritually.
But, my life does not include a significant other.
But, I still struggle with eating issues or other ways we compensate for stress.
But, though I’m ready to leave the past behind … what’s in my future?
But, what would I do without you (therapist) to talk with each week?
These are only a few of the rationalizations we may give ourselves for staying in therapy. Some therapists will continue meeting with you each week and hope for more progress. Other therapists may eventually give you other healing options or recommend you to another therapist if the therapy process is not benefitting you. I’m not speaking here to that. I am addressing the mentally healthier individual.
Many of us reach a plateau in therapy … a good plateau … I am healed enough. I write enough because I believe healing is a continual process, a lifelong process. Grief reappears once in a while. PTSD symptoms can show themselves at stressful moments. I have a good set of self-care tools, friends I can call and talk to on a deeper level, a spiritual inner life, and the ability to weather moments of grief, PTSD, etc. The need for a therapist is not there. I do know though, that if and when I ever need the support of a therapist again, I will seek one. There is no stigma to getting help whenever one needs it. That is why I write healed enough.
When that plateau hits, it can be scary. When you and/or the therapist realize it is time for you to leave the safety of that therapeutic space … emotions can hit hard … doubts of your readiness …. Those are all subjects that are covered with you and your therapist until you are ready to terminate therapy. Terminate is such a harsh word to me when in conjunction to therapy.
I like thinking that a person leaving therapy is flying … like a bird out of a nest … the love and support was given and received … the give and take of thoughts and insight … now the client flies on her own! What a positive image.
So, you are out of therapy. You feel good, healthy. The past is not the focus now. You are ready to not only fly, but to soar. Possibly, (after months or even years after therapy), you get stuck … maybe those “buts” listed above rear their heads. You want a better career. A significant other is important to you; and, you don’t have one. Spiritually, you want to search or go deeper. Life is good; and, you desire more. Therapy is not what you seek. You have the insight as to your past. You have tools to remain healthy.
It is the present and future you would like to form into a more fulfilling, life-sustaining journey. You want a person though to talk with, to be a partner or team member with you, as you figure out how to get what you desire. That is what a life coach can do. That is what I, as an online life coach, would do. I will be a strong, compassionate, and gentle team mate. You decide what is important to you. You direct your life. I shall listen, give resources, ask questions, and share my wisdom when necessary. I’ve been in similar places. I have been abused, tortured, human trafficked, and more. I know from my own decades of hell how hard it can be to see the positives, to act on the good things, to put into action that I deserve a life-sustaining career that helps others as well as myself. I get it.
This is my path …. to use my past of abuse, domestic violence, clergy abuse, ritual abuse, mind control … in order to be there for you. I know how I have sabotaged myself in the past. I know sometimes all I need is one person to hear me, to fully hear me … to hear what I say and what I’m not saying. At times, I need a mentor more than a therapist. I need someone to encourage me or to ask a question that clarifies something for me. I do believe the questions can be as important as the answers at times.
That is what a life coach does. That is what I would do for you as my client. I have a passion to help others. That passion has been there for decades. In order to serve others in this capacity, I had to heal enough. My heart is filled with such gratitude for the three therapists as well as the multitude of people along the way who have given me moments of strength, compassion, hope, and love. Those people included strangers as well as friends. Some of them did not even realize they were helping me. It makes me wonder once again how often we as individuals help other persons without our knowledge. Kindnesses, no matter how small, matter.
I am also grateful for my part in my healing. It is much easier for me to give accolades and credit to others. It is important though that I acknowledge and affirm my strengths along my own path. I endured not only the abuse itself, but also the pain of the healing process. Survivors know how hard it is to face one’s past and deal with it in an honest manner. I persevered decades of abuse. It also took much perseverance to put my life together more than once (due to court decisions regarding custody of my daughter and the fact of being a protective parent). There is tremendous strength within me which enabled me to suffer the loss of my daughter due to the unjust courts. I showed up for therapy sessions (usually early)! I am compassionate, gentle, resourceful, strong, and sweet. I seek spiritual depth and am seeing progress. I’m truly grateful to be me!
I strongly recommend that you, as a survivor or not, affirm yourself. Oh, so many of us lacked positive acknowledgement of our existence let alone acknowledgement of our attributes.
This quotation below speaks to joy and adventure:
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
– Steve Jobs
Are you in a domestic violence relationship presently? Are you attempting to protect your children as well as yourself? Almost all of you know there are resources to help you escape. The realities of life after leaving a situation of abuse are usually quite harsh. What if you do not leave? What are the realities? I am a firm believer in the victim making her or his own choices. You have to live with the consequences of leaving or staying with the perpetrator of the abuse and/or the torture. There is no easy choice. I understand the confusion, the lethargy, and the PAIN. In my situations, I stayed in the abuse for decades. I do not wish that for anyone.
Please remember though, from one who now fully knows, you (and I) are worthy of a life filled with real love, peace, joy, authenticity, and especially freedom. For as hard as my road to true freedom was, I would make the decision to leave the abuser again. Protecting my daughter for as long as I was able is something I will never regret. Freedom is a gem. It is precious.
Life is meant to be lived. We, as human beings, are meant to not only exist. I believe you and I are created to evolve, to be our unique and authentic selves, and to serve the greater good. Physical freedom from a life with the abuser(s) has led me to being free to be my authentic and genuine self. I am free to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. What a joy!
If you wish to contact me … to have me become your life coach, I would be honored. If you want to contact me to ask a question or send a comment, that is welcome also.
In all cases, I wish you well …
I wish you health in body, mind, and spirit …
I wish you a life of freedom, peace and joy!