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Why I Created the Affirmation Cards
by Cheryl Rainfield
I have always used art and writing in my healing from sexual and ritual abuse, but I used to draw only painful images of the abuse I'd endured. Over time, as I experienced years of not being abused, and of finding greater happiness, I found I could draw joyful art, art that helped me feel and see hope. Recently I created a set of affirmation cards as a way of sharing some of that healing and hope with others.
As girls and women in this society, we are often barraged with negative messages about our selves, our bodies, and even our gender by the media, social conditioning, family, even friends. And those of us who are survivors of abuse experienced another, deeper layer of negative messages—not only verbally, but also by the very act of abuse, and the direct and indirect pressure to keep silent. I drew these cards to help counteract some of those messages. Many of the cards contain messages that, as a survivor and a woman, I've needed to hear, and that I know other survivors and women have needed to hear. Although our experiences may be different as women and as survivors, there often seem to be common themes we need to be told and we need to tell ourselves—one of the most basic being that we are lovable, and worthy of love. Each of us deserves to be loved, and to love ourselves—and yet that can be so hard to feel and to do.
Many women and survivors of abuse receive repetitive negative messages about themselves, and this can form how they think and feel about themselves. I know that years of deliberate, negative messages from my abusers greatly affected me. It often felt like the negative messages that I was given during the abuse became embedded in my bones, or became a part of my thought patterns, affecting how I thought, felt, acted, and reacted.
Yet positive, healing messages can counteract those negative messages, spark self-esteem, and encourage self-love. I found that positive messages, when they resonate and are repeated often, greatly help healing (especially in conjunction with therapy, or when deliberately counteracting specific negative messages). Eventually, with enough repetition, the positive messages actually sink in, even if only a little bit at a time.
Positive messages, encouragement, and praise are something I've often needed a lot of, and yet simultaneously put up defences against—because I needed them, because parts of me felt I didn't deserve them, and because parts of me were afraid those positive messages made me more vulnerable. This seems to be true for many survivors and women. But positive, healing messages, when they are real, help build up inner strength, and heal old wounds. They help us connect with the wisdom and joy deep inside us. And they help us believe in ourselves, and see the beauty that is there.
Taking care of ourselves and loving ourselves can be hard to do. As women and as survivors, we may not feel we love ourselves, because we didn't receive real love or safety that we can model our own on; because we were taught we didn't deserve it; or because we want someone else to take care of us, the way no one ever did. We may have been taught that we have to put other people first, and we may feel guilty spending time and energy on ourselves. But taking care of ourselves, and loving ourselves, is a healthy, healing thing to do.
I think it's important that girls, women, and survivors have images and messages that reflect the true diversity of girls and women's different sizes, shapes, races, and ages, and that encourage girls and women to love themselves and their bodies, and to celebrate being female. Love Yourself affirmation cards offer this.
Love Yourself affirmation cards are written in both "you" and "I" statements because I believe this can help the positive messages go in deeper and easier. Sometimes it's more powerful to be told something positive, and sometimes it's more powerful to tell ourselves something positive. Reading the cards can feel like we are hearing those healing messages from someone else, while at the same time reminding ourselves of the compassionate, loving truths about our own selves. And being able to give that gift to ourselves—of caring enough, of recognizing positive things in ourselves, of turning our backs on the negative messages we've been taught, and embracing the courage, strength, and beauty inside each of us—that is a huge gift to ourselves and the people we love. It is a huge piece of healing.
Healing has always been a strong thread in my life; I was determined to hold onto the love, compassion, and joy inside me, and to remain separate from my abusers, even as a very young child. And I always felt a need to connect with others, to find the joy and healing in each of us, and to build on that. I drew the affirmation cards as a way to share some healing with others, just as I have learned and grown from what other women and survivors have shared with me. I think it's vital that we have healing, compassionate messages that we can hold onto, and strong, beautiful reflections of ourselves. That is what I hope to offer in these cards. They are my gift to you. I hope they bring much good feeling.
Love Yourself Affirmation cards are available for $9.99 US per pack plus shipping from this site. Each set includes 54 cards,108 unique images professionally printed.
Cheryl Rainfield is an artist and a writer, and a survivor of child abuse. She draws joy-filled, whimsical art, and is the creator of Love Yourself: joy-filled affirmations to inspire, encourage, & comfort. Cheryl also writes edgy, compelling fiction for teens. Her work is influenced by her healing from abuse. She has drawn and written ever since she could pick up a pen.
© Cheryl Rainfield, 2004
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