The soul cannot forgive until it
is restored to wholeness and health.
In the absence of love - how can one forgive?

With an abundance of love, starting with one's self,
forgiveness becomes a viable opportunity.
-Nancy Richards

Monday, January 31, 2011

Taking Care of Oneself

"If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete."

-Buddha


I heard this quote on NPR this morning and it was a good reminder for me. No matter how much I heal, I always need to remember to exercise as much compassion for myself, as I do for others.



Monday, November 15, 2010

Why Heal and Forgive?

For decades, I heard from friends, relatives, therapists, and fellow Christians, that I needed to forgive my abusers in order to heal. This advice - and the attempts I made to forgive before I'd learned to exercise personal boundaries - left me open to further injury and damaged me deeply.

When I finally mustered the courage to buck societal expectations; not to forgive; and to put my own healing and well-being first, I achieved a level of healing that I never thought was possible. My period of NOT forgiving created the space necessary to achieve the greatest emotional growth of my life. Wow!

The unintentional by-product of this healing, was - ironically - forgiveness.

At that time, I realized that the old adage, "Forgive and Heal," was backwards. For me, it was "Heal and Forgive!"

If I only knew then that adequate healing had to come first, it would have saved me a great deal of time and pain. So, now I shout it from the roof tops, "Heal first, THEN Forgive!"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Family Estrangement Books and Resources:

This is an old post from September 2008. I thought I would re-post this for anyone coming across my blog for the very first time.

Support Groups:


Healing from Family Rifts Yahoo Support Group for anyone dealing with a Family Rift – Membership required to read or post messages. Covers "all" sides and types of family estrangement. As of March 2009, the largest group of active members is adult children estranged from their parents.

Estranged Stories for anyone dealing with a Family Rift - This is a Ning Social Networking Support Group. Membership required to read or post messages. At the time of this addition (March 2009), the active membership is predominately made up of parents who are estranged from their adult children.


Motherless3 Yahoo Support Group for Motherless Daughters who have lost their mother due to Rejection, Abandonment, or Estrangement. Membership required to read or post messages.

Garden Web Parents Forum – Public Message board with threads on family estrangement.

Dr. Joshua Coleman’s Website has comment sections for parents to discuss their estrangements.

MEET UP GROUPS

AARP online magazine message boards (family section) often deals with the topic of family estrangement.


Websites Dealing with Family Estrangement:

H.E.R. Healing Estranged Relationships

Support 4 Change

Family Intervention

Estrangements

Family Wanted

Mark Sichel's Blog



Books:

Healing from family rifts: Ten steps to finding peace after being cut off from a family member, by Mark Sichel, LCSW

When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don’t Get Along, by Joshua Coleman

I Thought We’d Never Speak Again: The Road from Estrangement to Reconciliation, by Laura Davis

Family Estrangements: How They Begin, How to Mend Them, How to Cope with Them, by Barbara Lebay

FRAGMENTED FAMILIES: Patterns of Estrangement and Reconciliation, by Ellen Sucov

Walking on Eggshells: Navigating the Delicate Relationship Between Adult Children and Parents, by Jane Isay

For Mothers of Difficult Daughters; How to Enrich and Repair the Relationship in Adulthood, by Charney Herst

When You and Your Mother Can't Be Friends: Resolving the Most Complicated Relationship of Your Life, by Victoria Secunda

I'm OK, You're My Parents : How to Overcome Guilt, Let Go of Anger, and Create a Relationship That Works, by Dale Atkins

Making Peace with Your Parents, by Harold Bloomfield MD

Divorcing a Parent: Free Yourself from the Past and Live the Life You've Always Wanted, by Beverly Engel, M.F.C.C.

Making Peace With Your Adult Children: A Guide to Family Healing, by Shauna Smith

Heal and Forgive II: The Journey from Abuse and Estrangement to Reconciliation, by Nancy Richards

Monday, September 6, 2010

Vietnamese Translation


I am excited to announce that Heal & Forgive: Forgiveness in the Face of Abuse is available in Vietnamese. Yay!

Heal and Forgive was Published by arrangement with the original publisher, Blue Dolphin Publishing. The Vietnamese translation was Copyrighted © 2009 by Thai Ha Books JSC.

See translation info here.


Friday, April 23, 2010

THANK YOU!!

Thank you, to all those who have written to me since my last post. I enjoy receiving your blog comments, private e-mails, personal stories, and discussions on various survivor topics.

I am very grateful that so many people have taken the time to let me know that the sharing of my experience has been helpful to them.

The bulk of my healing process occurred prior to the advent of the internet. I didn't know any other abuse and/or estrangement survivors. Actually, I never even heard the term "child abuse" until I was in my twenties. Further, when I became estranged (and for a great deal of time afterword), I had never heard of family estrangement. Given my isolation from other survivor's, I didn't have anyone to help "pave the way," validate my experiences, or to tell me that given my experiences, my feelings were "normal." It was a painful and lonely way to live.

After decades of healing through "trial and error," I became passionate about easing the way for other survivors by trying to offer the sort of support, validation and guidance, I had longed for over the years. None-the-less, it was terrifying to expose the intimate details of my psyche by writing my books. Whenever I receive a letter letting me know that my words have made a difference, it makes it all worth while.

Quite often, I hear from Christian survivors who feel guilty about their perceived obligation to forgive a chronic abuser, which is superseded by their inability to forgive.

A common source driving their sense of obligation stems from the following verses:

Matthew 6:14-15 KJV For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 18:21-22 KJV Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

A Christian reader just sent me an interesting link on this topic titled "Should I offer forgiveness without repentance," from rbc ministries (the publishers of "Our Daily Bread").

Excerpted:

Unconditional forgiveness is canceling a debt to all those who intentionally offend us, whether or not they own up to what they have done. Offering forgiveness without repentance, however, does not follow the biblical model of forgiveness (Luke 17:3,4).

The Bible says that we are to forgive as God forgave us (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13). God forgives us when we repent (Mark 1:15, Luke 13:3,5, Acts 3:19). He does not grant forgiveness to those of us who are stiff-necked and refuse to repent. We must recognize our sin and repent to receive and enjoy God's merciful forgiveness. God requires repentance and so must we.

Repentance is important because it's a person's only hope for real change (Matthew 18:3; Acts 26:20). If we don't admit our sin, it's impossible to be transformed. If we aren't keenly aware of the sinful direction our lives are going, we will not see a need to adjust the direction. Repentance demonstrates that we need God to help us change our thinking, attitudes, and behavior.

To read the entire article, visit rbc ministries HERE.










Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hello Again....

.....kind of.

Well, for the last couple of months I have been busy working on my house. It has been a great deal of hard work, and fun!

Every now and again, I receive a comment/question on one of my prior posts. Thank you!!! I am always happy to respond, reminding myself that I am still connected to the abuse/estrangement survivor community.

I keep thinking I should hop on and write a post, but never seem to get around to it. Up until a couple of months ago, I posted extensively on the various issues I encountered on my healing journey. Whenever someone writes to me with a question, or, to share their experience, I find that I can direct them to a post I've already written on the topic.

My family and I have been reconciled for over three years now and although I still have a great deal of empathy for the abuse recovery and/or estrangement experience, it is no longer a part of my everyday life. Therefore, I really don't have anything new to post.

As a survivor, I'm sure new issues will come up from time to time, and when they do, I will share my experience. Until then, feel free to peruse my older posts and/or to contact me. I'm always happy to lend my support.

Blessings,
Nancy

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Go Swimming with a Survivor!

When I first became estranged from my mother, I felt like I was drowning in an ocean of pain.

Suffering from the cumulative effects of abuse and estrangement, I fervently wished my mother would drive up in a boat, and rescue me from the ocean. She didn't.

But, the truth is - nobody could "rescue" me. I had to rescue myself. Authentic recovery meant doing the hard work, and swimming the distance to shore. But, what did happen was remarkable. One by one, people jumped into the ocean and began to swim with me. As I fought the tide:
  • They helped keep me safe.
  • They kept me company.
  • They gave me validation, and encouragement.
  • They shared my experience.
  • Some already understood my struggle; others were interested in understanding, but either way-
  • In essence, they said, "I know this is a huge struggle, and I'm not going to leave you alone. I'm going to swim with you.
I'll be forever grateful!

So, I continue to swim - for myself - and for other survivors.