Doing It Alone: 1in6 Thursdays on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog
“What helped you the most in your healing?” a radio host asked me.
“Two people listened when I told them,” I said without hesitating. “They didn’t condemn or belittle me.”
As I said the words, I knew they were correct, and I stand by that statement. Here’s how I see it. As long as we keep silent and try to fix ourselves, we get nowhere. There is no resolution. We keep playing the same sad ballad in our heads. But once we open up to at least one person who hears and affirms us, we’re on the healing journey.
In short, we can’t do it alone. We need help, someone to pull us out of being stuck with our secret pain.
For me, the most significant reason—which I figured out only in retrospect—was my need for compassion and understanding. I didn’t know how to love myself. My thoughts condemned me and showed me no mercy.
I had to feel loved, understood, and encouraged from the outside. A farther-along-the-journey survivor once said, “As long as you try to do this alone, you round up the usual suspects. You get the same answers because you ask the same questions. It won’t change until you have fresh input. A sympathetic listener is the best guide to your solution.”
He was right and I can’t say it often enough. We can’t do it alone. We need others. A therapist, pastor, or friend. They can give us what we can’t give ourselves.
Opening ourselves is probably painful for most of us. Trust doesn’t come easily and we’re suspicious, but healing involves risk. And part of that risk is to open up.
By contrast, I once worked with a man named Milt, and he was so closed off, no one got to know him. He worked hard and efficiently. In fact, he was robotic at times. I once asked him why he pushed everyone away.
He stared at me for several seconds, before he finally said, “I trusted my best friend and he did some terrible things to me, and I won’t let that happen again.”
There are too many Miltons out there; too many who seem to think they can figure it all out on their own. But I believe we’re all hardwired to need other people. As John Bonne’s poem said 600 years ago, “No man is an island, Entire of itself.”
I reminded a man recently that the Lone Ranger had Tonto at his side.
I had to receive tenderness and acceptance as a gift from someone else. In my case, it started with my wife and my best friend. I’m not sure if it matters to whom we speak as long as it’s someone who will respond with kindness and sympathy.
Cecil Murphey wrote, When a Man You Love Was Abused and Not Quite Healed with survivor Gary Roe. Murphey is the author or coauthor of 137 books including international best sellers, 90 Minutes in Heaven and Gifted Hands: the Ben Carson Story. His latest book is Stolen: The True Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor, written with Katariina Rosenblatt. His twice-weekly blog is www.menshatteringthesilence.blogspot.com.
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