By Shay Castle, WINGS Social Media & Graphic Designer Volunteer
The Soaring to New Heights Conference was this weekend, and all we can say is, Wow.
We were so inspired by the many brave presenters, survivors, loved ones and clinicians who are fighting childhood sexual abuse and the damage it wreaks on our society.
From the five courageous men who shared their stories of abuse and recovery, to the therapist/client duo who formed a strong bond with one another and a herd of horses, we learned that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to healing from CSA.
When we were traumatized, it happened on so many levels — emotionally, of course, but also physically, spiritually, neurobiologically, hormonally. There are so many facets to the hurt, and CSA changes all of them.
Our healing has to be just as diverse as our wounding. We can’t expect to sit on a couch and talk all our problems away.
Our body was harmed, and it retains that pain. So we need to release that through movement.
Our truth was stifled, so we sometimes need coaching to recover that voice.
Our brain and hormones went haywire from being attacked, and for some of us, they stayed that way. So there is neurofeedback, EMDR, yoga and medication to correct those imbalances.
Our spirits were broken, so we need art and music and dance and a connection to the earth to mend our souls.
Our ability to trust was tested and pushed to the limit, so we need to learn to reconnect with others safely and form healthy relationships.
As one presenter said, “Our abuse happened in a relationship. Our healing has to happen in a relationship.”
Husband and wife team Marci and Bob Drimer proved, in their quest for a happy, healthy sex life, confronting past hurts and striving for wellness is a joint effort. And just because you are survivor in the relationship does not mean you bear the responsibility for everything that goes wrong.
As a participant in that workshop said, “As survivors, we want to fix ourselves before we show up in a relationship. But we just need to show up messy.”
Among the incredible diversity of backgrounds and experiences and paths to healing represented at the conference, that is the one thing that everyone had in common: They showed up.
Not just physically at the conference, but in life. They showed up to be a witness and participant in their own healing journey. They showed up, messy and full of flaws, because they took that first step in saying, ‘I love me. I deserve happiness and health. And I am willing to do whatever it takes to get there.’
Perhaps the best way we can sum up those two wonderful days of learning were expressed by Chris, a member of our male survivor panel:
“Am I healed? Not even close. But I’m on the path. I don’t care how long it is. I’m just happy to be walking it.”