Relationships with health professionals were among these but were not necessarily any more important to the healing journey than other kinds of helpers, which included family members, friends, spirituality and their God, pets, support groups, administrators, case workers and supervisors. Persons whose wounds included a violation of trust were especially careful about testing the safety of new relationships.
Participant E3. She said,. I always felt like I pushed boundaries but I needed them really badly. I needed to make sure nobody was going to violate them, but I needed first to know where they are and I needed to figure out if they were comfortable. The nature of the behaviours of helpers that fostered healing ranged from small acts of kindness to unconditional love.
But she really was. She was running everything. And she was just so unconditional positive love for me and all my cousins. Participant J. He received unconditional love, however, from his dogs:. And you can get that from people too, but not near as often. The love he felt from his dogs helped him cope with his social isolation and depression. Participant, P2. I heard God talk to me. I felt his presence. Participant P2. She related this story about the office venipuncturist:.
I have a good relationship with the venipuncturist too, the lady that draws the blood. This is an example of the importance of compassion in every interaction with people in the healthcare system.
Participant E4. She participated in a support group in which she experienced love and healing:. We had 40 participants on a weekend, plus the team people…like 50 people every single time. And incredible healing to be able to say this and to have these people accept me and love me and care about me. When he finally called a physician, who made a home visit, he said,.
I went from the darkest despair to bright hope. And that was because of him and what he said to me and how he said it and just the caringness of him. This physician, rather than being judgemental about participant E4. He found healing in creating art. He said,.
This story illustrates that, although there are common features, every healing journey is unique. Making connections enabled participants to acquire and refine resources and skills that were essential in their healing journey. People also brought their own personal strengths to the journey. A particularly important skill was the ability to reframe—that is to look at suffering through a different lens.
I think I kept trying to convince him I was crazy. She reframed the experience of abuse as something that made her stronger rather than damaging her. A lots, millions of people, you know. Little babies, little kids. They have it, you know.
I guess I have to live. And that was one of the things that used to keep me real stable.
His ability to reframe his illness as something that could happen to anyone made him able to realise that he was not to blame for his illness. Another resource that people acquired or refined during their healing journey was choose to be positive — that is to have some optimism about their situation.
For some, being positive was a trait they already had. For example, participant E1. This was a personality trait, but still was a resource that helped her in her healing journey. Some people, however, learnt to choose to be positive through their helping connections. After his sister visited him in the hospital and told him she wanted him to be there for her wedding he said,. I always not even thinking negative, You always gotta think positive. You always gotta think how beautiful life is. A third essential resource that people acquired or refined was the ability to take an appropriate amount of responsibility for their healing journeys.
They participated actively in the process of healing. Once again, some participants already had developed this skill, and some acquired or refined it from their helpers. You need a lot of energy and a lot of work…it takes a lot of work. I have to contribute just as much as every therapist and then some, because I have to do it for myself. Some people needed help in taking an appropriate amount of responsibility.
For example, participant P2. She was taking so many pills that she went to sleep in the middle of a conversation in which she was asking for more pills from the psychiatrist at the methadone clinic. She describes what happened then:. So, when I woke up… all the administrators from the programme were in the office.
And when I got off the pills, because I was so clouded up…when I got off the pills, it was like a rebirth. And I sort of had like a spiritual awakening and stuff came to me…and ever since then…I still struggled a little bit, but I started getting dedicated, I started making meetings. The clinic administrators gave her a chance to accept responsibility rather than dismissing her from the clinic immediately. People did not simply progress through this sequence and experience healing.
The healing journey was a recursive, back and forth process.
As this process continued, people experienced a gradual amelioration of their suffering. Although many despaired at times, all demonstrated the quality of persistence—they refused to give up. I still struggled every day to live. As people struggled through their recursive healing journeys, several common characteristics began to emerge, which we document here with illustrative quotations:.
I cannot diagnose. Journey to Love - Healing Sign up, sit back and wait Life is too short not to be the most vibrant and alive as you can. Do you intend to set up support centres in future? One sister was inspired to become more fully involved in Relief Society, where she found exactly what she needed.
The expectation that there can be an end to present suffering. I think gradually I realised that I was going to feel better. And I think gradually I came to believe that maybe I could have a normal life again. I think that now I still want to live. I have a lot of comfort in myself. His self-acceptance emerged partly from his understanding that he was not to blame for his illness.
Understanding that suffering gives the strength and experience to help others in similar situations. Participant P1. The re-establishment of a sense of integrity and wholeness.