Thank you to Val Andrews; author, artist and creative coach for sharing my story and my work on her website Art for Happiness.
Carolyn Hughes is a writer, healer and teacher living in Northern Ireland. The focus of her work is helping people to recover from addiction, depression and abuse. Also known as ‘The Hurt Healer’ she shares her own story of childhood abuse and the resulting struggles she had with addiction and depression.
She’s clearly a master of recovery. With great insight and compassion, she writes about her recovery process in the hope that it will inspire others who may be struggling with similar issues. Her internationally-recognised and award-winning blog ‘The Hurt Healer’ can be seen here: http://thehurthealer.com/ It has a thriving worldwide community of members who want to take their own journey to emotional wholeness and empowered living. It currently has 35,000 followers on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
For 20 years Carolyn referred to alcohol as ‘The Hurt Healer’ because it helped her numb the pain of being abandoned as a child by her mother and being abused by her father. Alcohol gave her confidence to deal with the present and it took away her fears for the future. But her addiction also kept her trapped in a cycle of despair and hopelessness. During her 17 years in recovery, Carolyn found freedom in sobriety and overcame long-term depression. Having reclaimed her life, her ‘Hurt Healer’ today is a combination of faith, love, serenity, joy, positivity and creativity.
Originally from London, Carolyn has a BA Hons Applied Social Science (Psychology and Social Policy) and CQSW (Certificate in Qualification in Social Work). She has 15 years experience as a family social worker in UK and Germany, and now lives in her husband’s native Northern Ireland with their two daughters.
Published early in 2015, Carolyn’s first book ‘How to Heal a Broken Heart: let go of pain and learn to love again’ draws upon her own experience of recovering from early childhood trauma and her own journey to recovery. In doing so, she explores vital concepts such as forgiveness, letting go and self-love; all couched within a spiritual framework. Her book also offers a glimpse of what lies beyond recovery – allowing love and finding your passion in life.
Her second book, ‘How to Forgive the Unforgiveable’ is due for release in August 2015. It explores in detail, what forgiveness actually is, and in doing so, dispels some of the myths around what forgiveness is not. She also explains the positive impact that forgiveness has on health and well-being.
In addition to writing these books and her blog, Carolyn also writes for various magazines. She also facilitates specialised small group workshops in personal development and life issues for a wide range of community, faith and women’s organisations. And she offers one-to-one mentoring from her home and through Skype.
Understanding cultural differences
Having lived in the UK and Ireland her entire life, Carolyn is acutely aware of the difficulties in breaking through cultural barriers in these countries, when it comes to talking openly about abuse, addiction and depression. She acknowledges these countries have a long history of repressing such things and ‘getting on with it’ despite the wounds and ill health that inevitably result from unresolved trauma.
Like all visionary leaders, Carolyn has a clear vision for a healthier and happier culture but is also able to work with individuals and community groups at their current level of readiness for change. She is starting to see some windows of opportunity to activate social change and is she is embracing these when she can. She also has a significant following in the USA and is planning a trip there in 2016 to run some workshops and meet some of her long-time followers.
The writing process
Although Carolyn works across a variety of media, her fundamental rule for herself is to write from the heart. She finds she can easily be triggered into self-reflection through a passing comment from another person, or something she hears on TV. These triggers will prompt her to dig deep and ask herself if there is anything she hasn’t quite resolved through her own healing journey.
She reflects on these questions within a spiritual context and considers how she could further progress her own recovery and then she writes about this in a blog post. Without fail, her blog posts receive masses of comments from her readers; acknowledging her wisdom and her advice.
Despite her personal and professional success, Carolyn is very humble. She says ‘I simply write from the heart, and if I can do it, so can others.’