An Interview with Dan L. Hays: Healing from Abuse: A Journey of Faith, Hope and ForgivenessMonday, November 23, 2009 5:30
By Ellen H. Brown
Today, I’m excited to launch the first in a series of inspirational interviews that will feature some extraordinary people who have overcome adversity in their lives. Sometimes, when we’re faced with tough times, we need a little inspiration to show us that we CAN transcend whatever life hands us. I hope this interview with author and speaker Dan L. Hays helps light your way, as you travel your own life journey.
What follows is our interview:
EHB: Dan, I read your book, Freedom’s Just Another Word, and was inspired by your journey, and the way in which you were able to overcome so much of what happened to you in your childhood. Could you tell readers a little bit about the book and what inspired you to write it?
DLH: The book is a memoir set in Houston, Texas in 1987. It is about healing, and hope, and forgiveness. As the book opens, my life was spinning out of control, and I didn’t know why. I realized I was walking around with many of the symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), but didn’t have a traumatic event that I could connect it all to. As that was happening, my Dad died. In my struggle to deal with his death, I got back a buried memory about a violent incident with my Dad that made things begin to make sense.
EHB: What would you say helped you the most in terms of recovering from the abuse you dealt with when you were young?
DLH: For me it was a combination of things – I used a number of tools. Therapy was very helpful, both individual and group. I became involved with a 12 step program for people who had grown up with alcoholism, which was an incredible help. Particularly the 12 steps themselves, because they offered a spiritual solution. But a big component was a walk of faith, in being led to confront those dark events that had ruled my life since childhood.
EHB: As a survivor of rape and child sexual abuse I know that there can be many dark nights of the soul. What kept YOU going during those dark times?
DLH: My faith in God kept me going and kept me safe through those many dark nights of the soul, and enabled me to see the light on the other side.
EHB: You’ve mentioned that some readers said your book provides a sort of roadmap for people on their journey of healing from PTSD and all sorts of abuse. Could you explain what you mean by that?
DLH: In the second half of the book, I went through a number of healing experiences, some therapeutic, some a part of the journey of faith, that other people have told me they use as a template for how to get past their own abuse issues. I was really surprised by that, and very gratified. It turns out that people whose abuse was nothing like mine drew from the book, mainly by applying the healing exercises to their own experience. People have reported using some of the techniques I tried, most of which had been recommended by therapists or wise mentors.
EHB: I know you have some other projects in the works, including a couple of books and some radio shows. Could you tell us about those and how you feel they can help people?
DLH: Healing was a process that took place over several years, that wouldn’t all fit in one book. I have several books planned to share other parts of my journey. I think they will help put it in perspective for people that it’s not a quick fix solution.
The radio spots are called Minute to Freedom. They are brief thoughts or insights from my road to healing, and people have said they get a lot of hope and insight from them.
EHB: In what way does all of this work you’re doing benefit you, personally?
DLH: It’s like they say, you don’t get it until you give it away. In sharing with others about my journey, it helps me see where I was and where I am now with a much greater clarity.
EHB: You’ve mentioned that you’ve done some mentoring with people who have been abused and/or have PTSD. Could you explain how you work with these people?
DLH: Mostly I share my experience – much of which is the things I describe in Freedom’s Just Another Word. I talk about how things opened up for me when I was flat on my back, and became willing to try things I normally would not try. Then I describe some of those things, if it seems appropriate in the conversation. Healing exercises, inner child work, letting go ceremonies, things like that.
EHB: Where do you hope all of the work you’re doing will lead you?
DLH: When I started dealing with the abuse issues, I felt pretty hopeless, like I was doomed to a life of unhappiness and frustration. For others who might be in a similar situation, I would like to be able to share the message that there is the hope of healing – there is a way to get beyond the effects of abuse.
Dan L. Hays is an author and speaker who lives in Fort Worth, Texas. You can learn more about him, and how to buy his book, at his website, http://www.danlhays.com
Are you dealing the death of a loved one? Or are you struggling with another life transition? If so, I’d love to help out. Visit my website at http://tinyurl.com/npmube to sign up for an introductory session or a coaching package that’s right for you. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world.
Ellen H. Brown is a certified professional coach based in Cleveland, Ohio.