One of the reasons I started this blog is because it is an outlet for some of the things I have been through in life. One of those things being abuse. I don’t focus on the abuse itself, because I don’t want to go into details about what happened. (Not only is it graphic, but it is very personal and I don’t want to relive that any more than I already had to.) The thing I have really been focusing on is the healing process. You’ll notice that my “tagline” reads: My metanoia. Which means a change in one’s life. By writing about what is now my everyday life, it allows me to show others that a positive life after abuse is very possible! It has been an amazing journey for me so far, and I don’t plan on quitting any time soon.
It turns out that I am NOT the only one who writes about my life after abuse. I follow quite a few accounts on Instagram and WordPress that are really amazing and empowering. Please know that writing about these things IS NOT EASY. Even when writing topics such as “Victim Shaming and How I Move Past It”, it still brings us (survivors) back to that place full of memories, emotions, fight or flight, devastation the list could go on.
One thing that I really want to point out though, is that there are so many different forms of trauma out there. Not only are there so many different types of trauma, there are also so many different types of abuse. They are all very serious. Which leads me to tell you that everyone’s healing process is very different.
Healing Has No Time frame
No matter what it is that you’ve been through, please don’t ever let anyone tell you to just get over it, or that you should be over it by now. Nobody has been through the same thing as you. Your experience is unique to you and only you. Sure, there are similar experiences out there, but nothing is ever the same. Abusers like to dig deep and cut where it hurts the most. Physically and emotionally. That “sweet spot” is different for everyone. Some people might even argue that the psychological effect their abuser had on them hurt far worse than the physical acts of abuse. (It’s me, I’m some people).
We all know what physical abuse looks like. Additional emotional abuse might look like withholding their kids, or restricting them from seeing other family members. This might also look like the abuser completely shaming their victim in front of others. Not only in the form of criticism either, but shaming them in ways that would be unthinkable to anyone with any sort of decency.
Emotional or psychological abuse doesn’t just heal with a bandaid and some antiseptic. The lasting effect of this type of abuse and trauma can be a lifetime. Once someone has gone through something like this, their whole perception changes. Perceptions of trust, love, loyalty, and life in general. So if you are the one who is in the process of healing, please don’t ever let yourself believe that it didn’t impact your life, and that you should be “fine” already. If you know someone who is in the process of healing, please don’t tell them to get over it. That is possibly one of the worst things to do. (I am not a doctor, I am sharing from experience.)
Repressed Memories: A Coping Mechanism
After getting out of an abusive relationship, everyone goes through their own healing process. Some people chose to utilize help from the professionals. Others may not. I didn’t, although I have been told several times that I should have or still should. When it comes to personal healing, there is no right or wrong way. All that matters is that you do what is best for you and your well being.
My first abusive relationship ended almost 13 years ago. To this day, I still feel terrorized by thoughts of him and the things he has done. He also happens to be the “father” of my son. For the longest time, I was in survival mode. My mind pushed memories aside and I guess you can say I repressed them. Now he is in a place where he can’t physically hurt me, my son, or anyone really at all. Once that finally happened, I tucked all of my paperwork and memories away. I pushed them aside in a box, & hid them in the corner of a very dark closet somewhere.
You know what I couldn’t tuck away? The anxiety, panic attacks and feelings associated with just the thought of him or anyone in his family in general. No matter how hard I tried or try. This most definitely was not healthy, but I didn’t do it on purpose. At the time I also didn’t know how to handle or process these things except to just keep going. Push through.
The thing about my repressed memories, is that sometimes they just pop right back up to the front of my brain. Something triggers them. A conversation, or something that I see. Never the full memory though. When those repressed memories started surfacing, I think my mind and body just knew it was time for the true healing to start.
So now more than a decade later I have been forced, on multiple occasions, to face these memories and feelings. It’s just the way life has happened these last couple of years. Maybe it was all for the better that it happened this way. I feel stronger now, and a lot more mature mentally. Now I feel like I am more capable of processing these emotions and memories than I was nearly thirteen years ago.
For those of you who are new here to my blog, I made a decision to move halfway across the country almost two years ago now. This decision was made after I got out of another (short lived, but traumatic) abusive relationship. I desperately needed change and a new start. Along with the move, I decided for me that it was time to face my shit and truly heal. Not only from the abuser I had just gotten away from, but from all the other shit in my life that had any sort of impact (hence abusive relationship number 1 and many other things).
Healing is a Different Process For Everyone
Earlier I mentioned that psychological / emotional abuse can’t be healed with a band aid and some antiseptic. This is so very true. As we all know too well, some abusers do leave their physical marks. I saw a post on Instagram where a woman had to have her eye removed, because her abuser damaged it so badly. In her post she was cheery, and getting a mold for a glass eye. Showing everyone in the wonderful world of Instagram that you can move on.
That was so inspiring to me! It also broke my heart. I’ve had my share of physical marks and bruises, but never have I lost an eye or broken a bone.
The thing is that whatever you are trying to heal from, it will always be different for the person next to you. While one young lady is wearing an eye patch and waiting for a glass eye, another is waiting for a broken rib to heal. Once you’ve planned your escape, successfully executed it, and after all of the physical wounds are closed, sealed up and healed comes the real healing process.
Not only do you have to give your body time to heal, but you have to give your mind and heart time to heal as well. You have to heal from all of the thoughts the abuser planted in your head, you even have to heal from your own thoughts. For me, healing from all of the fear was probably the hardest and still sometimes is. Every move you make in an abusive situation is scary. Leaving is even scary, and will be scary potentially for a long time. There’s fear of the unknown, fear that your abuser will come after you and it will be ten times worse than before, fear of living on your own, fear of not knowing if you’ll ever be safe again, or be able to trust again, or love again… Believe me: the fear is fierce.
Healing. Takes. Time. A lot of it, too. Just as I have my repressed memories and my writing, others will have their own ways of healing. The whole entire process is hard, painful, and can be really lonely. Above all, it is so worth it. So please be patient with yourself or any loved ones going through this. I believe in you!