Here is my latest article I am sending in for the Voices Newsletter column that I write. It is a combination of a lot of things that I have read on the site that have a very close impact on my life as you can see reading it. Voices is another survivor support organization but is not geared to just male survivors. It is geared to both female and male survivors.
Anyway, here is the article...
Behind Four Walls
A few years ago, I remember a not so good time in my healing journey when all I wanted to do was hide in my home away from people, social events and public places. To step beyond the four walls of my home was like a person afraid of heights jumping from an airplane. These walls and this fear held me captive from experiencing what life had to offer. At the same time, I was so lonely beyond belief and I wanted to be with people, experience people and not be alone. It was almost impossible for me at the time and I can remember feeling the struggle and hopelessness of the time.
Of course through continued therapy I began to work on the issues that I faced. Many of these were uncovering the person beneath the person and learning that there was so much to me. Boundaries became very important as I tried to emerge from my shell because during a period of my life, I had no idea what a boundary was or even where to begin to define my boundaries. A major part of my learning at the time involved that of finding out that there was so much out beyond my four walls and that by hiding from the world I was missing out on so much.
Donít ask me how, but at some point I decided to take the step from the known into the unknown and challenge these fears. Yes it was scary but I knew deep down I had to do this. I began by volunteering for a local drama group to help in the box office selling tickets. At first, the panic, fear and anxiety of this was almost too much but in time it got easier and as I began making some friends, I grew to really enjoy this. And it was the beginning of my first steps outside of my four walls.
Now, fast-forward to today and things have greatly improved from what they once were. However I still struggle to some degree in my own mind about being in public and around people. It is amusing to me because while it is a struggle, I enjoy it so much and long for it in a very deep way. I love people and yet I am so afraid of them. I do realize that it has a lot to do with my self-confidence and as that grows, the fear will lessen. However as you may well know, this is much easier said then actually accomplished.
Over the past year, I embarked on a new journey of becoming a licensed massage therapist. It was a very scary road for me because all of my life I have held people at a distance and yet what I was going into, required me to become intimate with people I had never met. The fears ran rampant but as time went by, I began to trust in myself more and my confidence grew with each new person I met. It was exciting to see how I had grown so much and how being around people was beginning to be much easier for the first time in my life. However, it was still frightening to me as I first meet people. Once I get around someone for a few minutes, I am perfectly fine, but it is that initial point leading up to meeting them that just scares me to no end.
In order to help myself confront these fears and to help build my self-confidence, I volunteered to do chair massage at the local childrenís hospital. I go there once a week and offer free chair massages to the families of the patients and the hospital staff. Normally I am on my own and I have no choice but to go searching for people who would like this service. The first night there, I was trembling the entire time and was so glad when it was over. Now I have done this for about a month and it is getting much easier. I find my fears of meeting people are lessening and I find that my self-confidence is growing. It is a beautiful thing to watch in myself because it has been a long and hard fight to get to this point. I cherish each person that I get to meet in this hospital and I find that even if I have had a rough day, my fears and problems pale in comparison to the things these people are facing. It sort of puts the world in perspective for me and I can see that these people enjoy what I give to them and appreciate it so much.
Iím not sure if all of the fear is gone, but it is definitely getting easier. I will continue to put myself in situations where I force myself to confront these fears while I nurture and respect myself as I grow in self-acceptance and self-confidence. We can not always see where our small little steps will take us like the one I took working in the box office, but as we look back, we can see the path we took and realize just how far we have come.
Take time today to celebrate where you are at and just how far you have come. Let the unrealistic expectations fall to the wayside and put in perspective those things that are alive and real within yourself. There is so much that is good within us right in this moment and if we build on that, there is no telling where we can go.