Posted by: Marie | October 29, 2009

(174) Keeping to myself

Post #174
[Book study – Wednesday, July 8, 2009]

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse
(Third Edition, 1994)
by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis

Part One: Taking Stock
Coping: Honoring What You Did to Survive

[Table of Contents]


Green text: Quotes/Summaries from the book
Gray text: My words

This transformative work (the entire series of blog posts relating to this book) constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright law.


Safety at Any Price

While some survivors have felt compelled to go out and overcome every obstacle, others have chosen security. They are the obedient daughters, honor students, good wives, and selfless mothers. They take few risks, sacrificing opportunities for protection. Opting for security can provide you with grounding and stability, but it may mean giving up your ambitions and dreams. One of the most common ways for women to find safety is through their families.

The Tea Garden by Martin Chen

The Tea Garden by Martin Chen

Avoiding intimacy: If you don’t let anyone close to you, no one can hurt you. Survivors go to great lengths to limit intimacy. Some survivors avoid intimacy in less overt ways, seeming open and friendly on the surface but hiding real feelings inside. While avoiding intimacy keeps you safe – and sometimes leads to positive traits such as independence and autonomy – it also means missing out on the rewards that healthy relationships can bring.

Oh, yes, big time.

Religion: Safety can also be found by attaching yourself to a belief system that has clearly defined rules and boundaries. More traditional religion can provide an anchor as well. The lure of divine forgiveness can be a powerful pull for the survivor who still feels the abuse was her fault.

Nope – I rebelled against the dogma of evangelical Christianity in my early 20’s . . . now, I stay far away from organized religion.

Compulsively Seeking or Avoiding Sex

If abuse was your sole means of getting physical contact when you were a child, you many continue to look for closeness only in sexual ways. You may become promiscuous or try to meet nonsexual needs through sex.

Some survivors go to great lengths to avoid sexuality. Others numb their bodies so they no longer respond.

Yup – I compulsively sought sex when I was younger – now I compulsively avoid it.


I know one thing for sure – all of this digging and searching and being honest with myself is taking its toll. All of my compulsive behaviors have been kicking in big time – all that ice cream is translating into tighter pants, LOL.

In the evenings, when my brain gets too tired for thinking, reading or writing, but I’m not ready to go out and do something that requires leaving the comfort of my home, I often decide to lie in bed and watch TV to kill the few hours before it gets dark enough to sleep. After about 30 minutes, the sound of the TV usually becomes annoying. So I’ll turn it off and wait in silence for the darkness to come. Eventually, the darkness does come – eventually, so does sleep.

Then come the nightmares . . . or the therapeutic insights . . . one or the other usually wakes me up around 2am. So, I get up and write out my thoughts for an hour or two . . then back to sleep until morning.

When I go back and read the last few paragraphs, I can see that my situation could sound desperate. However, that is not the case at all. There is a certain peace to having the time and energy to devote to intense discovery and healing.

In this discovery process, I am becoming more and more aware of the fact that I am psychologically ill – and that awareness is a good thing. If I acknowledge my illness, I can then identify a path to wellness.

There is a certain peace in finding out that my life doesn’t have to be this heavy and difficult. There is a certain peace in finding out there are many others who have walked this path before me – and many of them now enjoy good and fulfilling lives. In that, I find hope for myself.

Quotes 086


  1. I really feel that if you are aware you have psychological issues, then you aren’t as bad off as you may believe. You are doing wonderful work on your blog, it makes me thing and gives me courage. I also agree that life doesn’t have to be so heavy and difficult. Not long ago, I was exactly where you are now. No sleep, so many nightmares I couldn’t keep them straight, so much confusion I spent most of every day trying to decide what day it was. I hated it, when I was lucid enough to know something was wrong. Slowly, thru the traumatic revelations found in my sessions, things began to slow down and find a normalcy. It may never stop completely, but life right now is okay.

    I hope you find peace in knowing that you are one of those people you speak of who offers hope to others…

    • Hey, Ivory –

      I so agree with you . . . knowing what is behind the destructive behavior provides a way to deal with it.

      Thank you for your kind words! I’m so glad you are making progress and that you can hold out hope for better sleeping!

      Thank you so much for your contributions to the world of healing and sharing!

      – Marie

  2. I hope those compulsive behaviours are settling down or you are making peace with them. It’s good to hear that there is some peace amongst it all.

    • Hey, Evan –

      Yes, I’m happy to report that my brain and my body and my spirit have all started settling down — I believe as a direct result of the above work. I feel like I’m starting to move into my own personal space.

      It’s good to hear from you!

      – Marie

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