Together We Heal

Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse. We are here to provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal, give direction to those seeking guidance and to expose sexual predators for what they are and their methods of getting into our lives.


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Suicide Prevention Doesn’t End In September!

Although September was the official “Suicide Prevention Month”, I want to pass along some information I feel both compelled to share and do so in part as it relates to both survivors of childhood sexual abuse and any others who have been through trauma that has left them feeling as if there’s no hope.

At Together We Heal, one of our primary functions is to let fellow survivors know they are NOT ALONE. And since one of the many reasons leading to suicide is this feeling of hopelessness and/or abandonment, please read, take it to heart and share with others.

Let your friends, family and loved ones TRULY KNOW they are loved, appreciated and above all…they are NOT alone and help IS available.

Need help? In the U.S., call 800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

I read an article the other day from Ross Szaba, CEO of the Human Power Project. In it, he made some articulate points on this issue:

“Yesterday, the White House had a briefing on mental health and suicide prevention in honor of Suicide Prevention month. Advocates, professionals and organizations often use the words, “mental health,” in a way that assumes everyone knows what mental health is. Unfortunately, that’s not true. If we’re going to decrease stigma and have an honest conversation about mental health, then we need to take a step back and make sure all of us are on the same page.

Here are three things to clear up the confusion.

1. Mental Health is not having a mental illness.
Oftentimes when people hear the words mental health they only think of mental illnesses, celebrity breakdowns or worst-case scenarios. They do not think of healthy images. The word mental has a stigma attached to it that can immediately trigger scenes from horror movies, school shootings and epic celebrity breakdowns like Charlie Sheen, Britney Spears, Amanda Bynes or Lindsey Lohan.

However, mental health is not having a problem. It’s how you address all of the challenges in your life. It’s how you handle stress, break-ups, rejection, lack of sleep, loss and everything else. We need a clear definition of mental health as a baseline. The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

2. Mental health is as important as physical health.
Teaching people solely about mental illnesses isn’t the best way to be preventative or proactive in preparing them for their lives. We need to teach mental health the same way we teach physical health. The education needs to start at the youngest age possible and carry through all levels of school.

When people are asked to describe physical health they use words like diet, exercise, muscles, CrossFit, yoga, Pilates, gluten-free, the Bar Method etc., (I live in LA) or any other description that implies taking care of yourself. Again, when people are asked to describe mental health they rarely use words that have a positive connotation.

Your brain is one of the most important parts of your body. You can exercise, develop and strengthen your brain as much as you do your body. There are obvious exercises like memory, crosswords and puzzles. Another thing you can do is to evaluate your coping mechanisms. People strengthen their muscles with exercise and stretching. You can strengthen your mental health by creating effective coping mechanisms.

3. Mental health is for everyone.
I give a lot of presentations about mental health. Not surprisingly, most of the presentations I give are mandatory, because what college student is sitting in his dorm room thinking, “I wish there were more mental health speakers coming to campus. I’m tired of going to parties and having fun.”

My favorite person in my audiences is the person who upon learning he is at a mental health presentation rationalizes it by thinking, “I’ll listen to this, so I know what to do for other people.” Balanced mental health is something all of us should have. I have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder with anger control problems and psychotic features. Someone else may only experience small levels of stress. In both of these cases our goal should be to have balanced mental health.

So in the immortal words of Oprah. You get mental health. You get mental health. You get mental health…”

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Additionally, a colleague of ours, Claire Quiney, forwarded the following showing the warning signs, impact of, and putting in an easily understandable graphic why it’s so important for us to pay attention to this challenge faced by so many.

IMG_9607.JPG

The graphic can be seen at its original location here:

http://www.socialworkdegreecenter.com/suicide-notes/

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But above and beyond all we’ve covered today, take home this point made by all the previous authors and contributors…If we will take just a moment to talk WITH those around us, we might be the one who stands between them and making this fateful decision. Please reach out to those you know and love! And as I say all the time…Together We Can Truly Heal!

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.


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What’s Wrong With This Number?

As you may or may not know, April is Child Abuse Prevention & Awareness Month. So we will be posting several articles on a variety of topics about childhood sexual abuse all month long.

This morning I sat down to “go over the numbers” of the website. I do this to drill down in order to find out what survivors want to know more about, how I can better and more effectively reach and help those in need. And it’s how I learn who is reading and from where they come.

Initially I was “elated” about the numbers I calculated. Then the reality of it hit me like a ton of bricks.

As of today, April 1st, 2014, the Together We Heal (TWH) website has been read in 146 countries with over 45,000 views. There are a total of 196 countries in the world. Which means that 74.5% of countries in the world have visited the TWH site in search of information on matters of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). As I admitted to you, I was elated with this statistic. Although “elated” is not the appropriate word to describe how I felt about almost 3 quarters of the globe reading, learning, accessing assistance, etc., from our web pages.

It was at that moment I was reminded what the numbers truly mean.

Consider this: We have been online since October of 2012. Which means in a relatively short amount of time, people are either finding or finding out about TWH, what we do and how we try to help. In 18 months our site has been accessed from the majority of countries on this big blue marble.

What this means is that children are being sexually abused, molested, and raped, and survivors are coming forward about the abuse they endured as children from all over the world. This is not a social, political, economical, racial or any other “al” issue/problem/challenge…this is a HUMAN problem. In spite of what some delusional leaders claim, childhood sexual abuse happens in every country, to kids from every walk of life and background. While it may occur more or less in some areas or regions, it nonetheless occurs everywhere.

And this is why I write, and write and write, and give talks and lectures and presentations. This is why we go on radio and TV and give interviews. It’s why you find us posting to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and every other social media outlet we’re able. It’s why we do fundraisers, special events, news conferences and demonstrations.

We as an organization, and myself as an individual survivor of CSA, do all of these things because children are still being victimized and having their lives shattered, innocence stolen and future permanently altered by sexual predators and pedophiles who care for nothing but their own twisted desires. And sadly, there aren’t enough people standing up to protect them or help those left with the carnage if they make it to adulthood.

So we push on. And we request, implore and beg that others join us in this fight against actual, undeniable, destructive evil. We ask because we cannot do it alone. We ask because without your help children won’t find the protection they need and darn well deserve. We ask because adults who are living with unwarranted guilt, shame and self-blame, desperately need guidance, acceptance and sincere, natural, authentic love. We ask because sexual predators know if the majority of society remains silent, they can continue to prey upon our children.

So while I was initially “pleased” with how many countries were represented by the number of views to the TWH website, it only further exposed the need to do more and help more.

So as we begin this month of raising awareness and providing help on how to better prevent childhood sexual abuse, please consider giving of your time, your talent and/or your finances. None of these is more or less important, they are all needed in equal measure. So whichever you are able to give, please find a group like Together We Heal, or any of the others out there doing similar work, and give.

Having said all of that, I am pleased with one aspect of the numbers. They tell us that survivors from all over know we are here, that there are other groups willing to help them and most importantly – they are NOT alone. As we say…together, we can heal.

And that is something every survivor and child can count on!

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.


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Getting Away With Murder

When I originally came forward about my childhood minister, Frankie Wiley, sexually abusing, molesting and raping me, I titled the article “Pedophiles Are Like Serial Killers.” http://together-we-heal.org/2012/10/01/pedophiles-are-like-serial-killers-my-story-by-david-pittman/

I did this because what they do is like murdering the soul of a child. Over the last 8 years I have grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of action being taken by lawmakers to protect children from sexual predators like Frankie Wiley.

For far too long pedophiles/sexual predators have been getting away with the murder of the innocence of childhood. What has enabled this, is the inability of a child to speak out against their abusers in the “time allotted” by outdated laws that exist in almost every state in the Union. In most cases, a victim of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) has only a few years to come forward and these pedophiles/sexual predators/monsters know and count on the fact that most children are either too scared or think no one will believe them. By the time they are able to say something, if they ever get to that point, it’s too late legally to prosecute them.

It is beyond the pale that we have sat back and done nothing to protect those that cannot defend themselves. There are just a handful of states with the courage to do just that. It’s called “window legislation” and it allows an additional measure of time to bring justice to those that deserve and for those that are in need. Window Legislation has to become a MUST for ALL STATES if we ever hope to give victims a chance at the justice they deserve. Even more needed is the total elimination of the statute of limitation laws regarding CSA.

As it stands now, most states only give about 5 years either from the time of the incident(s) or from the time the victim turns 18. So at “best case” they have until they are 23 to come forward, or less if it happened younger. Most children do not have the ability to even realize the harm that has befallen them, much less say something about it. Sexual predators know this and it’s why the average offender, if not caught, has approximately 117 victims over the course of their life. (National Crime Statistics).

Together We Heal (TWH) has partnered with Marci A. Hamilton, who is leading the charge to eliminate statute of limitation laws regarding CSA. I would ask of all of you that you do the same. Go to her site: http://sol-reform.com/News/home/ and find out what the law is in your state, then go to your legislature and demand these archaic laws that only protect predators be squashed and laws be put into place that defend those who actually deserve it, our children.

I know that most people, because I was one of them for a long time, believe it’s not their representative standing in the way. “My” local Rep/Sen. is a good person and looks out for their constituents. If this were really true, would these laws still be on the books? I know it’s hard to hear, but the truth usually is. Most all of the current people in Congress are doing little to nothing. And the only thing that will cause them to take action is if we all let them know, either they make the changes needed or we will put in office someone who will. This is the message we must send and it’s the only one they will understand.

Please help us to make the necessary changes needed. We cannot do it without your help. And we cannot allow these sexual predators to keep getting away with murder. It’s in your hands now…what will you do?

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal


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What I Wish I Had Known

The following post is from a colleague and friend named Svava Brooks. She works tirelessly to help her fellow survivors of childhood sexual abuse, raise awareness about issues surrounding CSA and is an all-around amazing person. Please be sure to check out her site at – http://speak4change.com

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They say the hardest part of the healing journey after childhood sexual abuse is the beginning, when you muster up the courage to tell someone that you have been sexually abused. I used to agree but from what I have learned through my own healing journey and from supporting countless other victims, I believe that the hardest part is in the middle. The messy part, the crisis, the unraveling of your world as you know it.

It felt like I intentionally abandoned all that I knew about my world. No matter how dysfunctional or self-harming, I knew what to expect, I knew how to cope with my vicious internal dialog, and how to defend myself against the invisible enemy that I expected daily, sometimes hourly, to attack me. Even though I was no longer living under the same roof as the perpetrator, I was still living my life, with my fears, thoughts, and beliefs as if I was still living with him.

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” –André Gide.

Growing up in an abusive home, we denied our truth, what we “saw” and felt. We ignored our fear and numbed and repressed our feelings. We thought we could trust our caretakers but they hurt us, ignored us, and made it clear by their actions that we should stay silent.

Accepting this daunting reality as a part of the healing process can be and is overwhelming, especially if you try to go at it alone. I tried for many years to get validation about the abuse I suffered from the family that had ignored it. It did not work. I was called crazy and asked to get over it. Told that I was just causing trouble for everyone else.

What I learned eventually and I want to share with you, is that the sooner you stop seeking validation from the wrong people, the people that make you feel wrong about speaking the truth, the better off you are and the faster you will recover. Unfortunately for most of us, the wrong people are the people in the families that we are born into. You have to stop going back to them.

I am not saying that you can never be a part of their world; you can eventually. But it serves you, right now, for your healing, to divorce from them or separate for a while. At least while you are healing yourself, going through the messy part of healing.

The middle part, the messy part, takes the longest time. It is the part we tend to resist the most. It is the deep work of identifying our negative beliefs and exchanging them for new positive, empowering beliefs. Going back to the people that will not validate your truth will only re-enforce the negative beliefs.

You cannot heal your life if you keep giving your power to the people that hurt you then and are hurting you now. Find and share your story with those that can support you, that can and will validate your pain, your struggle, and most importantly can and will encourage you to move forward.

Find others like you, those that are on the journey and have been through it. Learn to listen to your heart and intuition. You know what your truth is. Listen to it, honor it, and follow it.

I could have saved myself lot of grief and heartache if someone had told me in the beginning of the journey that the people that I thought loved me, would not be the people walking alongside me and supporting me on the healing journey. It was a painful realization but one that we have to make peace with.

My greatest support came from other fellow survivors that were just a little further down the road than I was, that I could see had made peace with the fact that they could not change their families or make them listen and understand them.

I am glad you are here, that you are reading this. I want you to know that you can heal and restore yourself. You can connect through your healing with complete strangers that are survivors and thrivers like you. They have been there, they understand your struggle and they do believe in you.

Your fellow survivors are the people to go to when you feel that hope is lost and the abuse was your fault. We know that you need to hear this, over and over and over. We can remind you of what is possible. That healing is possible.

I believe in you. I believe your story and your truth. I know that you can heal and I will remind you of that as often as you need to hear it. You are not alone my friend. It may not seem like it but we are all in this together.

We are stronger together.

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You can also read this at Svava’s site and the rest of her insightful articles at:

http://speak4change.com/blogging/what-i-wish-i-had-known/#comment-79087


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The Abused Addict: CSA info too important to miss!

Radio Show Recording with David Pittman and Rachel Grant – January 29th, 2014

The Abused Addict: One Man’s Journey of Recovery from Sexual Abuse

Discovering the Correlation Between Childhood Sexual Abuse and Substance Abuse/Addiction

We cover not only abuse and addiction, but also issues with sexuality, access to counseling, sexual predators grooming kids for abuse, churches that protect sexual predators, creating support groups in your local areas and so much more! Please set aside some time to listen to what I genuinely believe is valuable information for both survivors of childhood sexual abuse and those that love them.

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.


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3 Steps to Let Go of the Pain of Sexual Abuse – Radio Show Recording

On Wednesday, December 18th 2013, it was my honor to have facilitated a tele-seminar with my friend, colleague and fellow advocate, Rachel Grant.

In addition to the topics covered below, there was also a Q&A session that had some extremely challenging issues Rachel and I addressed with the callers that I know you will find insightful and helpful.

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Do you feel worthless, undeserving, unfixable, or unlovable? Are you ready to let go of the pain of sexual abuse?

If you are beyond sick and tired of feeling broken and burdened by the past, this tele-seminar is for you. You will be taught the three steps you need to take in order to let go of the pain of childhood sexual abuse. Rachel will also share with you her secret to becoming a ‘beyond survivor’.

You will learn:

• Why sexual abuse is akin to an unhealed wound and the steps required to healing that wound.
• How your brain processes experiences and how this affects your thinking, feelings, and behavior.
• To challenge the false beliefs that keep you disconnected from your genuine self.
• To develop new ways of thinking in order to shift your focus, listen to yourself, and to use affirmations that really work.
• 3 steps, rooted in science, which will lead you out of the pain of abuse.

This show is perfect for you if:

You are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and are frustrated because it seems nothing you do is helping.

You desire to reconnect to your genuine self in order to move on with your life and be the person you were meant to be.

It is my hope and desire for you to be able to make radical and amazing changes as you take back your life and realize your ability to make powerful choices about who you are and how you live.
Please don’t miss the opportunity to listen and gain this invaluable information. As I mentioned, Rachel is not only a colleague, she is also my friend. I know how much she has helped me and I know she can help you too.

Here is the link to the show: http://rachelgrantcoaching.com/media/3-steps.mp3

If you want to learn more about Rachel and how she might help you move froward in recovering from CSA, please check out her website: http://www.rachelgrantcoaching.com/brokentobeyond


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3 Steps to Let Go of the Pain of Sexual Abuse

This December 18th, at 6 p.m. PT / 9 p.m. ET, I have the honor of facilitating a free teleseminar with my friend, colleague and fellow advocate, Rachel Grant.

 

Do you feel worthless, undeserving, unfixable, or unlovable? Are you ready to let go of the pain of sexual abuse?

If you are beyond sick and tired of feeling broken and burdened by the past, this 90 minute teleseminar is for you. You will be taught the three steps you need to take in order to let go of the pain of childhood sexual abuse. Rachel will also share with you her secret to becoming a ‘beyond survivor’.

You will learn:

• Why sexual abuse is akin to an unhealed wound and the steps required to healing that wound.
• How your brain processes experiences and how this affects your thinking, feelings, and behavior.
• To challenge the false beliefs that keep you disconnected from your genuine self.
• To develop new ways of thinking in order to shift your focus, listen to yourself, and to use affirmations that really work.
• 3 steps, rooted in science, which will lead you out of the pain of abuse.

 

Sign up for this free teleseminar at:

http://rachelgrantcoaching.com/brokentobeyond

If you are not able to join us live, go ahead and register and you will receive the recording.

This call is perfect for you if:

You are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and are frustrated because it seems nothing you do is helping.

You desire to reconnect to your genuine self in order to move on with your life and be the person you were meant to be.

 

It is my hope and desire for you to be able to make radical and amazing changes as you take back your life and realize your ability to make powerful choices about who you are and how you live.

Please don’t miss the opportunity to join us and gain this invaluable information. As I mentioned, Rachel is not only a colleague, she is also my friend. I know how much she has helped me and I know she can help you too.

 

Register: http://www.rachelgrantcoaching.com/brokentobeyond


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15 Things I Wish I’d Known About Grief

As the wonderful person who shared this with me perfectly stated, “If you don’t need it now, you will at some time in your life.”

I have never said this before on the website, but…this is a MUST READ.

Its beauty is in its simplicity and honesty. I wish I had been given this insightful advice many years ago as I dealt with grief and loss of all kinds. Thank you Teryn O’Brien for writing this amazing article. I believe Teryn’s words, when applied, can help you navigate through rough seas.

http://identityrenewed.com/2013/11/21/15-things-i-wish-id-known-about-grief/


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Do You Know How to Listen to a Survivor’s Story?

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), and having heard the stories of so many others, common questions I hear are – Why does it feel like no one hears me? Or, Why does it seem like no one understands what I’m saying or cares to get it?

I recently spoke with a survivor whose abuse, just as mine, had occurred at the hands of a minister. He said to me in no uncertain terms, “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to enter a church ever again because of what they have done to me. They denied it happened, they wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say. They stole so much from me and when I cried out for help, I feel like no one hears me.”

It was a rare opportunity when one person can say to another, “I know how you feel”, and genuinely mean it. And I did know EXACTLY how he was feeling. For more than 25 years, unless someone died or got married, I didn’t darken the doors of a church. Like him, I felt betrayed, belittled, ignored, and no matter what I told the church leaders, not once did I feel like anyone was listening or cared.

That is until one day, when one brave minister had the courage of his conviction to stand up and defend me. But just as important, he took the time to listen and was patient with me.

And that’s what I have tried to relay to my friend and to so many other survivors. It only takes one person taking the time to stop for a moment and pay attention. To actually listen to what the survivor is telling you. You have no idea the IMPACT it has on our lives when someone finally says the three words we need so desperately…

“I hear you.”

Even if you don’t know or understand what we’ve been through, the fact that you’re taking time to listen makes all the difference in the world. It doesn’t take a degree in psychology or a license from the state to simply listen to a person in need. It does take some things more valuable though, time and patience.

Trust me when I say this, as a survivor of CSA, we don’t want pity or a pathetic look. All we want, all we need…is time and patience. Time; to hear what we need to share. Patience; to fully grasp what we’ve been through.

When those two precious commodities are given to us, it allows us to finally open up about what has snared our lives in turmoil and torture. It gives us the freedom to finally speak out about the atrocities committed against us. When given that chance, we finally have the one thing we lost as a child, Hope. And once there is hope, we now have within our reach the one thing we thought was incapable of attaining, Healing.

I wrote this article with two groups of people in mind. The first being those that know or will meet someone affected by the trauma of CSA. The second being my fellow survivors. If you are in the first group, PLEASE take a moment and give those invaluable gifts of time and patience. If you are my fellow survivor, WHEN someone affords you the opportunity to share, as challenging as I know it may seem, PLEASE be receptive to those gifts. We don’t often feel worthy of it, but believe me, you are.

When time and patience are combined, many beautiful and valuable assets are formed. As humans we look at items like diamonds and oil that require both and are valued in trillions of dollars. How much more so then, is the life of your fellow human when you give them the same care, and the same value. Time and patience, what’s it worth to you?

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal


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When Does The Worst Day Of Your Life, Turn Into The Best?

In sharing my story, I often mention getting arrested and having to spend 30 days in jail for drug possession. The reason I do is to bring to attention how low my life had gotten due to the sexual abuse I endured as a child. I was in so much emotional pain, the only choice I saw was to try and cover the pain by ingesting as many narcotics as I could. This led to multiple arrests and the aforementioned time incarcerated. I didn’t even know until my last arrest report came out, but I had the following drugs in my system…cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy), methamphetamine (speed), GHB, ketamine, and heroin…all at the same time! It was a miracle I was even alive.

At the time of the arrests it felt like it was the worst thing that could happen to me. That is until it was clear I was going to jail, the only issue was for how long. Then came the day when judgement was rendered, and that seemed like the worst thing that could happen. That is, until my first night in jail.

And so began one worst day after another. While there, I encountered times where I didn’t know if I was going to make it. On two occasions my life was threatened and was moved from one cell to another until they thought I was as safe as I was ever going to be. I spent each of those 30 days wondering if I would make it out alive and scared out of my mind.

Then came the day of my release. Truly one of the happiest days of my life. Over the next few months I slipped on and off the wagon of drugs. I woke up one day and realized that if I was ever going to hope to have any chance at a future I had to get clean…for good.

So my dad helped me with a home-style rehab. He put up with all the nasty things I said to him, he helped me as I got sick for a week and all the while wishing I was dead, or had a “fix”. I spent a total of two weeks of the “worst days” of my life going through withdrawals and all that comes with getting narcotics out of your system. Then after about a month, I was free from the drugs within my system, now I had to get the garbage I wanted out of my head. So I started attending NA, and with the help of my mom, a friend and an amazing sponsor, I was able to work through all I needed to and can say now, I’m 8 years clean.

So why am I telling you all the details of all of the “worst” days of my life? Because if it weren’t for all those worst days I wouldn’t be where I am now. Now I am happy to report my sobriety from narcotics. Today I am working with my fellow survivors of childhood sexual abuse and helping them to find their own healing path. Today I work with some of the most amazing people who give of their time and talents to help others. And “today” would not be if all those “worst” days had not happened.

I couldn’t see it at the time. I never foresaw where those days would lead. All I knew was I wanted to live, or at least didn’t want to die anymore, and so I did what my program taught me, I took one day at a time and stayed clean “just for today” and it eventually led to now.

I’m telling more of the details for my fellow survivors to know there is hope, there is healing, and the light at the end of the tunnel is NOT an oncoming train. If I can get to where I am now, they can too. Together we can truly heal. I’m living proof.

The other reason why I’m being so revealing is due to a comment made by one of our readers…It caused me to have one of those Ah-Ha moments and led to this article. So I wanted to share with you the genesis of my thoughts:

“Thank you _______ for the reminder to be the encouragement for those in pain, the cheerleader when they succeed, and the friend when they just need…This was because _______, thankfully, reminded us to not only respond with comments to those with good news or progress in their healing and life, but also when the news wasn’t so good or as uplifting. As a matter of fact, it’s those times most of all they need to hear from us that they are not alone and we are here for them.”

So with that in mind, remember to share the good, the bad and the ugly…in doing so you never know which of your fellow survivors you might be helping, and assisting them in turning one of their “worst” into a “best”.

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal