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Beginning the Healing Journey

    Where do you begin a healing journey? Where do you start when you are hurting and in need of healing? The simple answer is, Begin where you are.

    But really, where do you begin to become WHOLE again when you have been shattered, when your world - which ALWAYS seemed upside down - comes crashing down? You have left your abusive situation, and now you are living with the consequences. You may be involved in counseling and group work to sort out what to do with the past and how to move from now into the future. I invite you to begin to seek healing for your spirit.

    Imagine a place within you where God dwells. I remind you that God is with you and within you. At this point in your struggle, you may feel that God is nowhere to be found. You may have learned to think that God is just another one of those �authority figures� who are there to judge you, waiting for you to make a mistake, and to punish you for guessing wrong. And since you have heard so often that you are defective or inadequate, you may have to struggle to convince yourself that it is OK to invite God into your heart for a few moments.

    Invite God to fill you with light and love. You may be able to consider this only briefly before returning to that nagging question, how could God love someone like me? I don�t know if I even like myself. Besides, the person I loved the most in this world turned away from me. The idea that God is on your side may seem strange. For a long, long time you may have thought of God as a powerful and not very friendly presence, who knew all your secrets, even the �family secrets� and yet did nothing.

    So the healing journey begins, not with one step, but with a process through which you begin to accept and rejoice that God called you into being, that God loved you first, and that God chooses to love you forever. This process involves a shift of thinking. You will gradually stop seeing yourself through the eyes of your critics, and start looking out at the world through your own eyes, your vision sharpened by the growing realization that God has not abandoned you after all.

    � Mary E. Latela
    Excerpt from Healing the Abusive Family: Beyond Survival, Liguori Publications, 2001, available through the publisher at 800-325-9521.