My first Self-Help Book

Courage to Heal, Self-Help book

The Courage to Heal,
A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse
by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis

I first read this in the late eighties or early nineties. I remember how it made me realize I was not alone. That many others went through the same things I did. It understood how I felt, what I was enduring. It may have been my first form of therapy.

The book contains writing exercises. I’m sure I tried out some of those exercises the first time I read it but I don’t remember.

I started therapy in 2009 and it made me think once again about the book. I checked it out of the library in hopes that it would get things moving along a little quicker.

Writing is often suggested when in therapy

In the book they talk about Free Writing. Wikipedia describes the technique as – “The technique involves continuous writing” “The writer writes without regard to spelling, grammar, etc., and makes no corrections. If the writer reaches a point where they can’t think of anything to write, they write that they can’t think of anything, until they find another line of thought. The writer freely strays off topic, letting thoughts lead where they may.” thus that is the format of my answer. I had already been journaling on and off since 1980 with this same technique.

Free writing has helped me work out my thoughts and feelings.

Here is one of my exercises from The Courage to Heal

Write about the ways you’re still affected. “What are you still carrying in terms of your feelings of self-worth, work, relationships, sexuality?” How is your life still pained, still limited?

• I have a difficult time communicating.

• I went right into bad relationships, one after the other.

• I often feel powerless.

• I hate any conflict and avoid it at all costs.

• I am good at avoiding.

• I learned that I had to.

• I have a difficult time expressing anger.

• I keep it in until I explode.

• I have a hard time thinking when it come to what I’m thinking.

• I am often depressed and anxious.

• I can’t think of anything to write at the moment.

• I’m needy.

• I need love, support, understanding; I need pats on the back.

• I didn’t get it as a child.

• I feel like I still don’t get it.

• I don’t know how to ask for it.

• I need to be organized but have a hard time doing so. I wonder how if at all that fits here. (link to organizing post)

• I don’t know what I want from life.

• I just know I haven’t gotten it.

• I have an empty place where my family should be.

• I’m alone.

• I’m tired of looking after others.

• I was a wife at the age of 11.

• When do I get to have fun?

• I have no sense of spirituality.

• I carry all my emotional pain in my body. Headaches, neck pain, digestive issues, the list goes on.

As self-help books go this one is specific. I have read all kinds over the years that I plan on talking about in other posts.

What self-help books have you read?