Originally posted on 20 August 2015

7 Steps To Healing That Surprised Me

By Angela B. Chrysler


Recently, I watched a video with Matthew Perry on his 30 years of drug abuse…

As some of you may know, I endured 30 years of trauma that ranged from rape and torture, to animal abuse and pedophilia. I also witnessed an exorbitant number of deaths at an early age. I did all of this without any therapy or medication.

Two things my therapist asked me about was “Do you think you’ll solve this right away?” And “You didn’t indulge in drugs at all?”

No. I have never touched any drugs except for the usual dose of marijuana that comes with adolescent curiosity and exploration. No drugs. Nada. Ever. Instead, I used writing, books, and dance to cope with the Goliath monstrosities I shouldered. I used fantasy at a heightened level that blows the minds of those who learn just what it was I did (See Broken). I used Fantasy to create four imaginary worlds that I used as mental escape from the trauma. Psychologists call this “Dissociation.” Like Don Quixote, I dissociated until I couldn’t recognize reality any more.

Today, I saw this article by Matthew Perry. Not so much the article, but the catch line used by The Hollywood Reporter and I froze.

Matthew Perry: “You Can’t Have a Drug Problem for 30 Years and Expect to Solve it in 28 Days”

by The Hollywood Reporter 3:25 mins

Matthew Perry, a self-professed ‘private person,’ opens up about his personal struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, highlighting the importance of treatment centers, specifically Phoenix House in Venice Beach, California.

Watch the video

Well, why not!? I asked. There’s that question again. “Why do you think you can solve 30 years so soon?”

I don’t think this is so much a “why do you think you can” so much as a “I wish I could.” Healing has a process to it. One that I was completely oblivious to until only recently.

Here are 7 steps to healing that surprised me.

  1. Awareness…realizing that what you did experience was traumatic and wasn’t normal.
  2. Acceptance…that you do in fact have a problem…that you do in fact need help.
  3. Hope…That you aren’t alone. That you can be better.  That others can help you.
  4. First Steps…That first plunge in the right direction that will lead you out of the mental maze. That first phone call to a facility. That first introduction. The paper work, assessment, and then your first session. Many quit at this stage.
  5. The Confrontation…individually addressing each event, each emotion, each situation and calling it all for what it really was. Abuse.
  6. Changing Perspective…Redefining everything. For me, a rape survivor, I am redefining my own list of actions. Foreplay” is “Making out.” “Sex” is “bonding.” “Horny” is “physical loneliness.”
  7. Challenging the false premise I developed and re-directing my thoughts onto positive thoughts.

In short, I am literally using positive thinking to undo the negative brainwashing induced by my abusers and their physical conditioning so I can re-direct my neurological frequencies in order to cause my body to produce happy chemicals that stop depression.

Got that? Wow! I mean WOW! So yes. Mr. Perry is completely correct. 28 days is an unreasonable amount of time to heal 30 years of trauma or drug abuse. My  therapy plan is a 2 year therapy plan.

“You have to get out of your head and help someone.” – Matthew Perry

I simply nodded and said, “Yep!” You do. It’s a productive distraction. One that, I believe, is part of the healing. Sometimes, when you see where you have been and what has happened to you, the trauma is just too much to handle alone. Helping others makes you feel less alone. It reminds you that there are others. And at this stage of the therapy, re-training yourself to believe that you are not alone is crucial to staying with the therapy. This is why so many trauma and drug survivors become advocates. With healing, it’s too easy to lose yourself in what happened to you.

I never asked, “why me?” or blamed a god. I said, “Okay,” and survived it best I knew how. I did grow up thinking, “This isn’t right!” I did often think, “I won’t do this to my children,” and I don’t. I did think, “This is training me for something. Something bigger is coming my way.” I think, looking back, the trauma and abuse I survived did train me. It trained me to endure the therapy that would follow.

On the really bad days, when you spiral and you feel yourself slipping back to the maze that is the subconscious, helping others does so much to pull you out of your funk. It’s like you’re drowning, and suddenly you see someone drowning in the sea beside you. So you reach for each other and you take their hand. And together you rise to the surface during the storm. Instantly, you feel your chances of survival multiply.

I think this is why I write so much through “Unbreaking Me.” To share my burdens…to relieve the weight all so I can breathe and also, so that others like me can see my hand reaching out to them in the storm.