I Can See It From Here. Why Not Take a Break?

Finally, Dorothy and her traveling companions come out of the dark forest. The sun is shining, the air is clear, and the field before them is filled with colorful flowers swaying in the wind. When they come over the hill, they see it! The Emerald City! Gleaming on the hill against the bright blue sky. Dorothy has dreamed about this place and she has pushed hard to get there. The end is finally in sight!

Eager to complete their journey, the travelers joyously pick up the pace. Then something happens. The Wicked Witch of the West casts a spell and they begin to tire. Their long journey catches up with them, and all they want to do is to stop and take a nap. They feel they can afford to take a break, because they’re so close.

They’re so close…yet so far.

The Scarecrow, unaffected by the witch’s spell, knows they are in danger. He instinctively knows if they stop now they will never reach their destination. So he tries to keep them awake and urge them on, but one by one his companions begin to fall asleep.

Then, when all seems lost, Glenda the Good Witch of the East, initiates something very unexpected. In the middle of a spring-like day, snow begins to fall on Dorothy and her friends. This out-of-the-blue event revives the travelers and they rise to finish their journey.

After facing your “lion,” things can seem a little lighter and brighter, as if the dark perils of the journey are now behind you. After all, you have made some good progress and gained some great traveling companions. With the end in sight, you are ready to finish this thing up.

Then, the long and difficult trip starts to catch up with you. You start to feel fatigued and you begin to think, “Why not take a little break? After all, I’m closer than I’ve ever been. I can see the destination from here. Why not rest a little?”

When this happens, you are in danger of being lulled to sleep. The thought of settling for “close enough” will anesthetize you. Yes, you are closer than you have ever been, but you are not there yet. You are stuck between where you have been and where you could be, and if you stop you could stay stuck for a very long time.

Don’t get me wrong. It is important to pace yourself, but pacing yourself does not mean stop.

This is where you need encouragement to keep moving forward. This may come from those further down the road than you. It may come when something completely unexpected (like cold snow on a warm spring day) hits you and reminds you that all is still not well. Whatever it is, don’t let the desire for a temporary respite keep you from reaching your goal. You’re not there until you’re there.

If I Only Had the Courage

Before Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man can reach the Emerald City, they must pass through a dark, dense forest. Thick overgrowth shuts out the sunlight, and they begin to imagine the dangers lurking in the shadows. “Lions and Tigers and Bears…Oh my!” Their hearts race, their fears increases, and their steps quicken. They just want to get out of this place.

It’s here they come face to face with one of their biggest fears…a lion! Dorothy runs for cover as the would-be-thinker and the would-be-feeler scatter in panic.

But when the lion pursues her precious dog, Toto, something snaps inside of Dorothy. She can no longer watch from the side lines as this lion terrorizes what is precious to her. Dorothy steps up, faces the lion, and slaps him in the face.

At that moment, the lion crumbles. His fearsome exterior falls away and he becomes more pitiful than powerful. In that moment, the weak becomes powerful and the powerful becomes weak.

When Dorothy learns of the lion’s need, she compassionately invites him to travel with them to see if the Wizard might give him the courage he lacks. The lion accepts, and they set off arm-in-arm for the Emerald City…in search of a brain, a heart, some courage, and a way back home.

You have made the decision to walk toward a better way of life. You have realized that both your thinking and your feelings have been affected by what you have been through. You feel like you’ve been making progress.

But then things get darker and more fearful, Maybe it’s an increase in flashbacks, an increase in nightmares, or an increase in relationship difficulties. Whatever it is, your fear, anxiety, and dread begin to grow until you come face to face with your lion.

Your lion is the thing you did not want to face. It could be the memory you did not want to remember, the idea you did not want to consider, or the feeling you didn’t want to feel. Like a lion jumping out of the forrest, it sends you running for cover.

But this lion will eventually push you to realize…

  • “I’ve come this far and faced so much already. I can’t throw it away now.”
  • “If I run away, where will I go? I can’t go back to where I used to be. Too much has transpired.”
  • “I’m tired of this lion, and others like it, bullying me and the people I love.”

Something will go off inside of you and you’ll do what you didn’t think you could do. You’ll confront the lion, and it will give way. Your lion may not yield as quickly as Dorothy’s lion, but it will eventually lose its bluster and become more weak and pitiful than you imagined. In that moment, the powerful will become weak and the weak will become powerful. This act of courage is an important turning point on the road out of Oz.

If I Only Had a Heart

Dorothy continues down the road toward the Emerald City, but now she’s not alone. She’s been joined by the Scarecrow, who is looking for a brain to think things through and solve problems.

The two of them come to a dark and ominous woods where the trees are threatening and things grow darker with each step. It is here that they encounter a man of tin who has been rusted solid by a sudden rain storm.

Dorothy and the Scarecrow compassionately apply oil to the Tin Man’s rust laden joints, and he slowly regains the freedom of movement.

The Tin Man is grateful to be able to move again, but he still feels immobilized, because he lacks a heart. This prevents him from feeling things like love, joy, and bliss. The only emotion the Tin Man readily feels is fear, which leaps to the surface when the Wicked Witch of the West appears.

After the Wicked Witch of the West departs, Dorothy tells the Tin Man that she and the Scarecrow are on their way to the Emerald City and she invites him to join them. Lured by the longing to feel, the Tin Man accepts and they head down the Yellow Brick Road together. They each carry a need: the need to find home, the need to think clearly, and the need to feel fully.

You will spend part of your time on the road out of Oz trying to find the brain power to solve your problems and make life right again. But at some point you will need to travel through the dark woods of your emotions.

Here, you will find a part of you frozen in time. Like the Tin Man who rusted in place when the rains came, you were emotionally rusted in place when the rains of abuse came. You find yourself stuck in the same old emotional positions of fear, terror, anger, guardedness, mistrust, and insecurity that were there when the abuse poured over you. Those emotions were too intense to live with continually, and they caused your heart to rust over in an attempt to prevent you from feeling anything.

Like the Tin Man, you may feel emotionally rusted and even hollow on the inside, as if you have no heart. But it’s there. The journey to find your heart is actually the journey to reawaken your emotions by softening the rust around your heart so that it can feel again.

But you need to know that once you awaken your heart…YOU WILL FEEL. And not just the things you want to feel, like happiness, joy, love, and intimacy. You will also feel things you don’t want to feel, like fear, dread, uncertainty, and hurt. You cannot be selective with your feelings. You cannot just turn on the emotions you like and turn off the ones you don’t. It is an all or nothing proposition. To turn on one feeling, you have to turn on all of them.

This may scare you and makes you want to back away from finding your heart, but consider this…you’re already feeling things you don’t want to feel. Your feelings drive you everyday. You just don’t recognize them. You need to get them out in the open and deal with them. It will free you from the rust that has seized you and kept you from fully participating in life. It will also create space for you to begin to experience the positive emotions that have always seemed just out of reach.

You have a Scarecrow who seeks to train his thinking. You have a Tin Man who seeks to free his feelings. But there’s still another traveling companion to pick up.

If I Only Had a Brain

Shortly into her journey down the yellow brick road, Dorothy comes to a crossroad. With no map or roadsigns, she stops to decide which direction to take. It’s there she meets the first of three eventual traveling companions…the Scarecrow.

The Scarecrow is stuck on a pole in the middle of nowhere. He’s pleasant and friendly, but he feels insignificant because he’s stuffed with straw, and useless because he can’t protect the corn from crows.

The Scarecrow is convinced all this would change if he only had a brain. He believes being able to think rationally would solve all his problems. If he could just figure things out, he could make things better.

So Dorothy invites him to join her on the journey, adding his quest for a brain to her quest to get back home. Little does she realize how important this move will be.

When you begin your journey on the road out of Oz, the first crossroad you typically come to involves the need for rational thought.

Like the Scarecrow, you reach a place where you feel stuck and unable to do what you need to do. You believe if you could only look at things logically and rationally you would be able to think yourself out of your predicament and heal from your sexual abuse.

The problem is your head is filled with the straw of deceptive and destructive messages. These “straw messages” were implied and implanted by both the abuser and the abuse. They are “straw messages” like:

  • “This is all you’re good for.”
  • “You brought this on yourself.”
  • “You responded, so you’re just as guilty.”
  • “If others really loved you, they would have protected you.”
  • “It just proves you can’t trust anyone.”
  • “You just need to be stronger.”
  • “That was a long time ago, so forget it and move on.”

Even though a part of you knows these messages aren’t logical, they still clog your thinking and make it hard for you to move forward and be productive. If only you had a brain that could forcefully override all the “straw messages” and help you think your way out of this.

It’s true that many of the messages left by the abuse are false and counter productive. It’s also true that these messages need to be countered and corrected by an ability to think clearly and rationally about things. You cannot heal if you continue to believe the left-behind lies of the abuse.

So, learning to think rightly is an important step, but that alone will not get you out of Oz. You need more than just a brain. If you are to find healing and wholeness from your sexual abuse, there are more traveling companions to be added on the road out of Oz.

An Easy Walk…For a Short While

Dorothy leaves Munchkin Land with the encouragement of Glenda and the Munchkins ringing in her ears. With Toto in hand and her destination in mind, Dorothy steps quickly and confidently toward her desired destination.

Then the movie cuts to the next scene. Dorothy is still walking, and so far the trip has been uneventful. She’s still moving at a good pace, and perhaps she’s thinking, “This trip is not going to be that bad.”

Then she comes to a crossroad, and for the first time since starting the journey, she isn’t sure what to do next. Glenda doesn’t show up to give her directions, and though the road is still peaceful, you can see her uncertainty starting to build.

After you reveal your abuse and make the commitment to take the road of recovery, the first steps don’t seem that bad. Initially, you’re carried along by the momentum of your new-found courage and the encouragement of others. You also take comfort in the fact you can still turn to old perceptions and tactics if things get too hard. You hold on to these familiar comforts as if they were your Toto.

So the beginning of your journey is relatively smooth and encouraging. You’re not digging into deep stuff. Your counselor is starting you off at a slow pace, and you find yourself thinking, “This isn’t that bad. I can do this.”

Some victims want to get things over with as quickly as possible, so they start down the road of recovery sprinting. But that’s not the way you need to approach recovery. You need a little time to adjust and build some confidence in your counselor and yourself.

Enjoy the easy pace in the beginning, but know crossroads of uncertainty lie ahead.

Now What?

Dorothy has been threatened by Elmira Gultch, ignored by friends and family, caught up in a cyclone, and dropped in a strange place with strange people. She has unwittingly defeated the Wicked Witch of the East, and also kindled the anger of the Wicked Witch of the West.

She finds herself standing in Munchkin Land wondering, “Now what?”

Munchkin Land is pleasant and welcoming, but she knows she can’t stay there. She wishes she could return to Kansas and the way things were. At least she knew what to expect there. But returning to the way things used to be isn’t an option any longer.

Glenda the Good Witch tells Dorothy she needs to make a journey to the Emerald City. Then she shows Dorothy the yellow brick road. It’s the road to the Emerald City. It’s the road out of Oz.

Dorothy is uncertain at first. She’s wonders of how long the road will be or what she might encounter along the road. But seeing no other options, she takes a step. Then another. And then another. And before she knows it…she’s moving forward.

The journey has begun.

Like Dorothy, you too have experienced mounting difficulty that has picked you up, spun you around, and dropped you in a different place with different people. Your arrival has killed the witch of secrecy and denial, but has awaken a witch of fear and uncertainty.

You find yourself wondering, “Now what?”

Part of you wishes you hadn’t opened this “can of worms.” You wish you could just go back to the way things used to be. At least there you knew what to expect and had some control. But you can’t go back…at least not the way you came.

Then you wonder if you could just stay where you are. After all, you’ve been honest about what happened to you. What else is there to do? Still, something tells you that staying where you are will not be enough.

So, you gradually accept the only viable option…moving forward.

Counselors, pastors, and other survivors say you need to take a journey and follow a road leading to a place of help and hope. You eye the road and consider the journey. You wonder how long the road will be and what you will encounter on the journey. You even wonder if the journey will be worth it.

Finally, with everyone’s urging, you decide to take a step on the road. Then another. And then another. You find yourself moving forward toward a new place and a new life.

Your journey has begun.