Time to Heal
Time is a great healer, well that’s what people say, but it seems trite when applied to something so traumatic and debilitating as trying to rebuild your life after being raped. There is no magic wand, no quick cure, it is a long slow process. I would love to be able to equate the healing process to recouperating after a major operation. The hospital gives a rough guideline as to how long you can expect it to be until you are fully fit and recovered, and so although it may be painful, uncomfortable and slow, at least you know that in x ammount of weeks you will be able to carry on as you did before the operation. But with rape recovery it will take as long or a short a time as your body and mind need to heal. Once you accept that there is no time limit then you can start to recover. Just remember take time to be kind to yourself. It does takes time to overcome a tragedy. Don’t feel as though you must be healed NOW!
There are some positive things that you can do to aid recovery. I have included here the ones that have worked well so far for me. Give them a try, you never know they may make a difference to you too.
Take time out for yourself. Set aside at least 10 minutes everyday and concentrate on you. This is your time to use in whatever way you want. Even if you have a really busy schedule ensure that you find that time. It can be first thing in the morning just before you get up, or last thing at night. It doesn’t matter when but listen to your body, and if it tells you to stop and take a break, do just that! Your body knows the best way to heal itself!
When you get angry don’t be afraid of it, don’t suppress it. Rip an old newspaper to shreds, stamp and jump all over a pillow, or hit it and scream at it, yell and shout, throw darts at a dartboard, go for a run, do something very energetic, do whatever it takes to let out the anger. Just don’t keep it bottled up inside.
Do something new. It helps with the feelings of frustration and anger. If you can channel those emotions into doing something constructive all the better. You are rebuilding your life so why not do some of those things you always wanted to do but never got around to. I’d wanted to learn how to use HTML and make a homepage for a long while, but it’s something i thought i would never get the hang of. But, these pages are a direct result of sitting down, taking the time to study exactly how to do it. The whole project has been the best therapy for me. Others i have heard of have learnt to sew, taken musical lessons, even learnt how to skate.
Let the child in you loose. Act silly, let down the barriers, have fun, and don’t feel guilty! Ever wondered why kids don’t get as stressed as we do? I recently spent a wonderful rainy afternoon getting soaking wet, splashing and jumping in puddles!! How about making a sand castle, visiting the zoo, flying a kite or going down the slide in the playground? Just because you are grown up doesn’t mean you have to act like one all of the time.
Write a diary. When you look back you can see how the bad days really do start to lessen and how the number of good days start to increase. It’s a positive reminder of just how far you have come. Even if you have a bad day you know it will never be as bad as it was at first.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support. Don’t try and do it all on your own. People want to help, let them! It really does help to have someone to share your worries, thoughts and feelings with. There are many proffesional agencies that offer counselling and support for rape victims. Use them! Phone friends up when you are feeling lonely, down or just need to talk. They can see you’re hurting, but often feel they don’t know how best to help. Explain to them what you need them to do, be it to hug you, listen to you, talk to you, keep you company or just be there at the end of the phone. People are often out of their depth, they have no experience unless it has happened to them, so they don’t know what to say in case they upset you. They are the ones looking to you for guidance in what you need them to do.
Dig out your old teddy bear or soft toy. I didn’t have an old one, so i borrowed one of my daughters teddys. It’s amazing how comforting it is to snuggle up to it in bed. I talk to it, confide my innermost fears in the middle of the night when i can’t sleep, hug it tight and sometimes bury my face and cry into it. I guess it’s a link back to childhood and security. I don’t care what people think, all i know it is helping me heal.
Flashbacks are a part of the healing process. They are very scary, frightening things both to be going through and watching someone go through them. Try and explain to people what happens when you have a flashback, and how best to help you when it occurs. Try and go with them, don’t fight them. You will come through it, just try not to panic. Try and take deep even breaths, and hold on to something or someone. Try to stay focused on the things happening around you, or things you can see and touch. Try to keep in touch with reality. What you are experiencing is a past event, a very traumatic stressful memory that feels as though it is happening right there and then. It is unfortunately part of the healing process, and as time goes on the intensity does lessen, and they will become less frequent and easier to handle.
Try to stick to a routine. Eat regularly. I know i found i forgot to eat, wasn’t hungry and generally lost all interest in food, But, even if it is only a snack make sure you try and stick to eating at meal times. Often trouble in sleeping and nightmares play havok with sleep patterns, but try to stick to your usual waking up and going to bed times. As far as you are able try to stick to a schedule that is usual for you. It is way too easy to slip into bad habbits, but remember your body is struggling hard to overcome a great trauma, and it needs looking after to help heal itself.