Knowing that I always feel better when I was in the presence of couples who loved each other in a healthy way, I decided when praying alone to ask for the presence of Joseph and Mary, who were the healthiest couple that ever lived. So, I began asking Jesus to take me home with him and share with me his experience of growing up in the atmosphere of healthy love between a man and a woman. I would see myself entering Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem or his home in Nazareth and hear his family greet me. Then I would breathe In the atmosphere of their love for one another, and breathe out any feelings of fear or darkness. Gradually, I began to take in Mary’s healthy feminine identity and feel that I deserved to be treated as lovingly and trustworthily as Joseph treated her. I began to breathe in Joseph’s trustworthy love and know that other men would be equally trustworthy.
After several months of prayer and of being in the presence of healthy relationships, all my symptoms of sexual abuse disappeared. I no longer felt frightened, frozen, guilty or full of grief. During one prayer time, the ‘iron knot’ in my abdomen seemed to dissolve, and I never felt it again. I began to dress attractively and stand up straighter. People who had not seen me for several months told me I seemed like a different person. And that is how I felt. —Healing the Eight Stages of Life