July, 2000

Edited selections from the ASCA newsletter.

The original newsletter (pdf)


  1. A Reflective Moment: Promoting Courage Within Our Lives: Facing Life’s Changes, Difficulties & Challenges
  2. Rotation C Topic: Possible ASCA Meeting Topic for July: Telling Our Story

1. A Reflective Moment:
Promoting Courage Within Our Lives:
Facing Life’s Changes, Difficulties & Challenges

by George Bilotta

(The following brief article is a continuation of our monthly series focused on pondering some of life’s basic questions.)

With our emerging 21st century full of speed, intertwined with jam-packed lives and with increasing demands on our time and energy—trying to live a reflective life in order to foster courage has never been more essential. We constantly face change in every aspect of our lives. Cultivating courage, as a quality of the heart, empowers us to encounter our daily difficulties and challenges with a firmness of conviction. Courage does not take away the pain, the hassles, or the frustrations of daily living, but rather it functions more like a restorative salve. Whether we face intransigent recovery dilemmas or emotional disadvantages like depression, anxieties, distorted self-images, or difficult people within our family, at work, on the street, etc., a focus on trying to cultivate courage enables us to face life with increased meaning, with greater endurance and energy, and with an intensified sense of purpose.

If part of courage comes from firmness of conviction, from where does our conviction draw its substance? Firmness of conviction draws not from feelings or from the opinions of others, but rather from rigorous thinking. Disciplined and thorough thinking assures one that one is right, without doubt. Confident that one’s conviction has been intensively tested and proven true, we now possess a grounded trustworthiness that empowers us (courage) to forthrightly face the changes, difficulties, and challenges that daily life inevitably showers upon us. Courage increases self-esteem, promotes healthy self-images, energizes and enables us to welcome daily life with increased vigor and passion.

To generously paraphrase Socrates, rigorous thinking is constantly challenging our assumptions and beliefs—about the way that we live, who we are, and whom we say and believe that we are. Rigorous thinking includes continuously questioning our society’s priorities and what society states what it means to be a good human being and a good citizen. Rigorous thinking encompasses an intensive examination of what others say about us and how we permit what they say to affect us.

The result of rigorous thinking unfolds and discloses guided wisdom. Over a period of time, the accumulation of discipline and of thorough thinking gives way to in-depth knowledge, an understanding of what is right and true concerning ourselves and our relationship to others and to things of the world. Wisdom guides our days, our lives, just as a compass inevitably points to north, orienting our direction and guiding our life’s journey.

As a value of the heart, courage is substantive, adding stamina to life and rippling with positive impact throughout our day and life. Courage favorably affects how we look at ourselves, how we feel about ourselves, how we present ourselves to others, and how we go about picking up the daily tasks of life. We cannot change substantially, and we cannot alter our lives significantly, without investing in cultivating courage through rigorous thinking. If we are usually distrustful of others, scared of life, perpetually indecisive and apprehensive about tomorrow, we might discover that focusing on trying to promote courage produces an increased firmness of conviction that, like a compass, guides and points the way.

Questions to ponder:
  1. How do you systematically go about challenging your/society’s assumptions and beliefs?
  2. How can you go about increasing rigorous thinking?
  3. How do you sense that fostering courage would negatively and positively affect your life?
  4. How would the cultivation of courage influence how you go about working your recovery from childhood abuse?

2. Rotation C Topic:
Possible ASCA Meeting Topic for July:
Telling Our Story

Perhaps the single most powerful aspect of our recovery process, especially during Stage One recovery, is the telling of our story. Our “story” usually includes 1) the circumstances surrounding our abuse; 2) the factual details of the various incidents of abuse (physical, sexual, and/or emotional); 3) the experiences of our family members and our elders responding and/or not responding to the abuse; 4) the effects of the abuse throughout the years; and 5) our struggles and successes with recovery.

The importance and the potential positive impact of telling and retelling our story in its many manifestations can never be underestimated. The storytelling process improves our memory of the past and decreases its negative emotional impact on our present lives. It curtails our tendency to minimize and deny what actually happened. By clarifying the abuse’s effects on our lives, it provides perspective on that which we need to focus on in order to continue to move on with our lives. It diminishes the scary nature of the abuse and lessens the fear we have of the people who abused us. Telling our story to whomever has the capacity and willingness to listen removes the burden of singularly carrying the horrendously heavy load of memories. Telling and retelling our story is a process that gives way to freedom from the desolation of the past, to liberation from the chains that hold us back from being the people we desire to be.

There are many ways and tools to tell and express our story. Some include talking to and with others individually and within groups; writing the story as historical fact; composing poetry; drafting a play; choreographing a dance; painting and drawing; creating a video; dictating a series of audio tapes. Some of these avenues of relating our story of abuse include other people, and some can be done successfully alone and privately. A combination of expressions is probably more helpful than a single expression of telling and retelling our story of abuse and recovery.

  1. What has been my experience, thus far, of telling my story?
  2. What have been the benefits to my life and recovery process of telling and retelling my story?
  3. Are there other avenues I can pursue that I have not yet used concerning telling my story to enhance my recovery process?