Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Healing From Abuse Means Doing The Work of Healing

Healing from abuse means doing the work of healing, not just talking about the abuse.  Yes, in the beginning of healing, talking about what happened to you is important.  In fact, talking, in itself, is very healing and breaks the bonds of silence that your abusers taught you.  At what point in the journey, do some survivors get stuck in the drama of telling their stories and never move beyond that point?  How do you tell when you are healing from telling your story and when you are just plain stuck?

For me, I told my story over and over for about 10 years but that wasn't all that I was doing.  I was reading books on healing from incest.  I was writing about my own experiences.  I talked to other survivors who were doing their own work.  I went to two different groups for counseling as well as doing individual work with two counselors over that ten year period.  I also had two 12-Step sponsors that gave me personal work to do on healing from incest. 

I did the work of recognizing the lies that my abusers told me. Darlene Ouimet, the owner of Emerging From Broken blog, does the best job of anyone that I know of exposing the lies that many survivors grew up hearing from their abusers.  I will give you a link to Emerging From Broken at the end of this article. 

For many survivors, those abusers were one or both of their parents.  Exposing the lies of your abusers is a very important part of your early recovery.  So is telling your story. Both are healing steps that need to be taken. 

Telling your story does not mean creating drama for yourselves or others.  Some suvivors create drama as a way of recreating what they are used to as children.  This is where exposing the lies of your abusers is so important.  When you see those beliefs as lies, you can begin to choose how you will react to your triggers, how you will react to the people that, on purpose or accidentally, set off those triggers in you. 

I believe that triggers happen to show you where you still need to work on yourselves and the issues behind the triggers.  Triggers don't happen to make you blow up all over someone else.  When you do that, then you become like your abusers and abuse someone else. That is what was done to you as children and it is what you continue to do to others until you learn that you don't have to continue those unhealthy patterns of behavior. 

A pattern happens when you repeat the same behavior over and over.  I have learned to look for patterns in my own behavior.  With awareness of patterns, I can then decide to make changes or stay the same.  If my behavior is hurting me or others, I decide to change.  That in itself is a process that takes time with lots of trial and error and apologies along the way until I change that pattern with a new, healthier pattern.

One example that comes from my own life has to do with anger and rage.  Rage is unheathy anger that grows and grows and gets blow all out of proportion usually because the first signs of anger were ignored, denied or stuffed deep inside.  Rage eventually comes out when the pressure is too great to hold it in any longer.  It comes out, usually on someone that totally doesn't deserve it.  I used to do this all the time.  Anger wasn't allowed in my house except for the rage that my dad carried around so my anger was denied and stuffed with food until the rage came rolling out like hot magma from an out of control volcano damaging everything in its path.

Rage was the first feeling that I learned to deal with because it was so volatile that I could easily see the damage that I was doing with it.  Doing this work isn't a matter of feeling shame for the fact that I couldn't control my rage.  Doing this work is a matter of feeling the feelings without allowing them to hurt myself or someone else. 

Rather than feeling shame when I get a new awareness, I forgive myself for not seeing the pattern sooner, then I set out to change the situation so that I don't continue to hurt myself or someone else.  It isn't enough to feel bad about my behavior.  If I am being hurt or someone else is, then I need to change that behavior.  If I say I am sorry but continue to do the same destructive pattern, then I am not really sorry.  Any behavior that I continue to do, I am getting something out of it or I would quit.  Feeling shame or guilt about a behavior is a sign that change needs to happen.  If I know that my reactions are out of proportion to the situation, it is my responsibility to do something to change my reaction.  If I am looking to create drama, I will find an excuse to do it. 

With healing comes responsibility for my own actions and reactions.  Another person does not trigger me.  My own issues are what trigger me, not what someone else said or did.  Those issues trigger me because I haven't healed that particular issue. It is not anyone else's responsibility to fix me, just as it is not my responsibility to fix anyone else.  The triggers will keep coming until I am healed in that area.  I am not saying that I am at fault or wrong or bad because I am still being triggered.  I am saying that it is my responsibility to heal me so that I am not triggered.  It is my responsibility to do my own work to heal.  If I am refusing to see the awareness that has come into my life because of my triggers then I am still playing victim.  I am still believing my abusers' lies that say that I am not capable of taking care of myself. Or I am still believing the lie that says I am too stupid and that I am worthless and have no value and can't make decisions for my own self. No matter what you said about me or to me, I alone am responsible for what I do with that information.  You do not make me angry.  I choose whether to get angry or not.  My actions are my responsibility.  How I respond to a person or a situation is my responsibility, not yours.  I can't blame you for what I am feeling.  I choose whether I stay stuck in the victim role or I move forward in the survivor role. 

Saying that I never meant to hurt someone doesn't mean a thing if I continue to hurt them.  Feelings are not inappropriate. It is what we do with them that can be inappropriate.  I have no way of knowing what another person is feeling unless they tell me.  What I may see as insensitivity or lack of empathy in another person may not be that at all.  I cannot know or guess what another person is feeling.  What that person may say has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them.  I cannot second guess other people unless I am intent on creating drama for myself.  If I want to create drama, drama will find me. When I say someone else is insensitive, I am projecting my own insensitivity onto that person.

I want to heal from incest.  I do not want to be defined by incest.  Incest happened to me but is not who I am.  I am a human being living and growing through my experiences.  Sharing my experiences does not make me better than you or perfect.  I am far from being perfect. I make mistakes. I still sometimes see someone else hurting and out of my feelings of compassion I want to make their way easier.  Sometimes I can help. Sometimes I cannot.  Sometimes I even manage to make situations worse.  Sometimes I play devil's advocate and try to look at the bigger picture.  I don't know where the term "devil's advocate" came from. I don't see it as bad.  I see it as the simple process of stepping back and looking at more than the immediate view or seeing a different view than everyone else is taking.  Being different is not a bad thing.

To use something that I heard earlier today on an interview between Michelle Rosenthal and Susan Kingsley-Smith on the Blog Talk Radio station called Heal My PTSD, you hold the power of your own healing.  You have to do the work if you want to heal.  My question for you is, "Do you want to heal?" or  "Do you want to stay stuck in victim mode and blame everybody else for your life?"  If you want to heal, at some point, you have to move beyond the blaming stage of healing.  In order to heal, at some point in your life, you have to take responsibility for your present and future.  Responsibility for the abuse of your childhood belongs with your abuser. Responsibility for what you do with your adult life belongs with you.
Patricia

Related Links:

Emerging From Broken blog
@ http://emergingfrombroken.com/

Heal My PTSD interview on "Why Don't Survivors Want To Do the Work to Heal PTSD?"
@ http://www.blogtalkradio.com/heal-my-ptsd/2010/02/26/why-dont-survivors-want-to-heal-ptsd

48 comments:

Mystic_Mom said...

Patricia, you hit it square on the nail head with this one! Thank you for this post. I am so often reluctant to share my story because people seem to crave the details, the pain seems to feed in them a need to feel your suffering. I'm not sure why that is, but they seem to be disappointed if I don't get too detailed and focus on the healing and being a survivor.

Patricia Singleton said...

Mystic Mom, thank you. I needed to hear your wonderful wisdom today.

Gail O'Keeffe said...

Hi Patricia, I love the honesty and truthfulness you have expressed in this post. I to have found that you have to do the work to heal. We can't go over it, under it or around it...we need to go through it and take self responsibility for our own healing. No this is not a damn walk in the park by any means but worth it! Thank you and you are a shining star for many.

Patricia Singleton said...

Gail, thank you so much for your words of support. You, too, are a shining light for many other survivors.

Jan said...

So very true. felt like I was reading my own mantra. I don't dwell but I do express when a new memory hits. Thank you for your words. You are a champion.

Susan said...

This is such a great article Patricia. You've touched on so so many of the issues that we can get hung up on.

And I love your closing sentence - and I can't see it right now on my phone to quote it but that sums it up perfectly!

thanks for sharing the shown did with Michele. That one has had a ton of archive listens. :)

Patricia Singleton said...

Jan, thank you. I am glad that you could relate to my words. Have a glorious week.

Patricia Singleton said...

Susan, thank you. I appreciate your comments and support. These thoughts have been going around in my head for a few days. Glad that they resonated with you.

Darlene Ouimet said...

Hi Patricia,
Thank you for your compliment about my work and my blog emerging from broken.

I found it to be a natural progression of recovery to move out of the (necessary) blame stage. I often refer to it as growing up. (because I never grew up properly before) When I finally faced the past and absolved myself of all blame, I began to find a balance come into my life. Along the way in my healing journey, I became very aware of my own actions and began to see them through the same truth grid that I had been working on seeing the past through. I think a lot of people get stuck in the blame part because they don’t replace the belief system that formed in childhood. That is the tricky part because it takes being aware of the past for longer then most people want to look at it. I also found (based on my own observation working in mental health) that a lot of people (because of childhood conditioning again) jump straight from realizing they were innocent where the abuse was concerned and jumping straight to accountability for what was really reactive abuse. What I mean is that I was totally willing to make amends to my family without ever facing what they did to me. I had reacted to them, I had upset my mother with mean remarks a few times, but it was reactive to what she was still doing to me. I had to let go of that stuff. I don’t need to make amends for trying to protect myself.

Where I had to get strong was in realizing the difference between that, and just taking my mood out on my family today. I am hyper aware of my own actions today, as many survivors are, it was in fact HOW we survived, but it took a long time to sort this all out. I think that I get stuck sometimes, but never on blame. It took me years to really place the blame / responsibility where it belonged. This process is very complicated… so I just keep trying to go forward.

Hugs, Darlene

Patricia Singleton said...

Darlene, you are very welcome for the link and words about your blog Emerging From Broken. You are helping me and so many other survivors by giving us a safe place to talk and to grow.

Thank you for the very valid points you made here about your own recovery. Were you actively working on your issues or just going with the flow of whatever came up in your life with your natural progression of healing?

I had to actively work on my incest issues for many years with the support of friends, family and counselors. I had to be aware of what was happening and what my reactions were before I could change any of my old patterns of behavior.

By saying that we are responsible for our reactions and actions, I am not saying that we are to blame for our reactions to the abuse. I am saying that we need to see what our reactions are so that we can change them and stop reacting from our childhood patterns. We need to be able to go from reacting out of fear and rage to acting out of a place of self-care. Reacting keeps us bonded to our abusers. Acting comes from the freedom of being healthy and seeing what we are doing coming from a healthy place instead of from a place of fear and hate.

We are responsible for learning to care for ourselves, for learning to stop harming ourselves and others because we are so rageful that we feel out of control. We are responsible for finding our way out of the hopelessness of victimhood and into the light of survivorhood. None of us has to remain a victim.

Karla Fox said...

The tears are flowing, and you must have been so honest that it hurt...very true words. I appreciate the fact you are sharing with a wide audience, yet still hit me personally...woow. ;) Thanks! Very good information.

Patricia Singleton said...

Karla, I wish that I could physically give you a hug and dry your tears. Sometimes honesty does hurt just that much. It resonates so deeply within us that tears just have to come out. I appreciate you stopping by and letting me know how my post affected you. I hope you will come back.

Lynn C. Tolson said...

One of the steps to healing is placing the blame, shame, and guilt where it belongs: on the perpetrator(s). Beyond that, it takes work to move through the feelings that surface, the emotions we were often forced to stifle and smother and numb. But during the healing journey, there comes a time when we recover those feelings, even if they are negative, and diffuse them in the therapeutic process. I'm happy to report that it's possible to have moments, days, weeks, where peace and harmony exists and rage is a thing of the past.

Patricia Singleton said...

Lynn, thank you for sharing your wonderful example of exactly what I mean about doing the work of healing, moving beyond the stage of blaming. Blaming and giving the shame back to our abusers is a very important stage of healing. We just don't need to get stuck in that stage.

prozacblogger said...

Wow. I wish I've connected to all of you a long time ago. It could've saved me so much time of figuring things out myself.

When you say: "victim mode" I can so recognize that. My mother is one off those people that've been in "victim mode" forever. It's like she needs the drama. I can't stand it.

The most difficult part for me was standing up and saying: "I have issues!" I had so much rage built up inside of me that I needed to do something.

Recently I figured out, though, that actually no one can give you good advice about what you should do. The only place to find the right answer is YOU.

It's easy to stay in victim mode and blame everyone else, including your own children. The real challenge is to stand up and say: "I have issues that affect my present life and I'm not going to take it any longer!"

Thank you for this article. It's been a great inspiration to me!

Sincerely,

- Prozacblogger

Patricia Singleton said...

Prozacblogger, welcome to my blog. Thanks for leaving a comment. Every comment adds more to the post. You are very welcome. I, too, wish I had the community of survivors that I have today back then when I was having to find out all of this stuff by myself. I, too, believe that all of us have our own answers and we will hear them when we are ready.

Renee said...

Pat,
I did the same. I told my "story" to everyone, mostly it was those that could care less that were family. I told it over and over, everything, why? So it wouldn't be so painful when I sought out the professionals. I did years of work,individual, group, and inhouse. I still have more to do but I have to be able to go inhouse to do it because it would be dangerous for me to do it outpatient. So until im able to find a place where they can admit me it is best to stay on the surface.
Renee

Patricia Singleton said...

Renee, I hear what you are saying about your fears of being out of control if you do your healing as an outpatient. Just remember that our worst fears usually don't happen. Don't let fear keep you from healing.

brannem said...

Patricia,

Your points about wanting to repeat the patterns are so right on. It's hard to unlearn that part, being so ingrained into what and who we have been for so long. You see the opportunity to repeat the pattern, you want to repeat it, desperately. It takes much strength to step back and decide not too - to the point it almost feels like it's the wrong decision when in fact it's the right one. Inaction is often harder than action.

Thanks for again eloquently expressing a struggle we face as survivors.

Patricia Singleton said...

Brannem, thank you. It took a lot of trial and error to find out what worked for me when I started seeing the patterns and deciding which ones I needed to change or even stop doing. You are very welcome.

MissPinks said...

Thanks for this interesting post about healing, i have just started my healing journey so it is insightful to read about it from someone who is further on down the path.

Something i wanted to mention about the first couple of paragraphs, about telling your story is something i have been facing. After the assault i told my story, i was able to talk about it comfortably it seems because i was still in shock and denial. When i came out of this stage i was unable to talk about it at all. Now i have a new therapist and the idea of talking about it terrifies me. It seems so silly after being able to tell it before.

I was thinking i know some people go through periods of acceptance, and then denial, then acceptance, and back to denial. does this mean people have to keep traumatising themselves by repeating their storys over and over? I don't know it was just something i thought of whilst reading your post.

Thanks for this insight into healing!

Pinks x

Patricia Singleton said...

Miss Pinks, by telling my story, I don't mean necessarily telling every traumatizing detail. I mean sharing that I am an incest survivor and telling only the simpliest bits that I was comfortable sharing in the beginning. I only told what I was comfortable telling when I was okay with telling it.

The hardest the telling has ever been for me were the two guest posts that I wrote for someone else's blogs just recently. Those two posts go into more detail than I have ever gone into with anyone. No one else needs to know all of the details of the actual abuse.

I tell what I need to share when I need to share it. That doesn't mean going into sexual details that are no one's business. I have told my story in small bits and pieces over the years as I needed to share my story in order to set myself free from the hurt and the anger. I only tell it to people that I feel safe with.

On my blog I have shared more of my healing details than actual sexual abuse details. Share only what you need to share to go from victim to survivor. I hope that I answered your question.

Lynn Tolson said...

Miss Pinks, your question really resonated with me. I started speaking out when I was 43. Around that time, I worked intensively with a therapist, telling things I hadn't said in earlier periods of therapy. I also went back to school to get a degree in social work. My focus for research was that those who have experience sexual assault were 14 x more likely to attempt suicide. I even presented these findings to social workers, psychs, DR, nurses, SANE, SART, PTSD. I said, "Medical professionals MUST find a way to ask a patient, have you even be sexually abused." Get a history. Get used to asking. Then I got cancer. Then I moved to dream state of CO. Then I got new doctor in new state. New doctor asks me at intake, "Tell me, have you have been sexually assaulted or abused in some way?" I said NO. NO! In a new environment, not feeling in control, I said NO. As the dr was leaving, her hand on the doorknob, I said to her, "Uh, I have something to tell you." Telling because less and less traumatizing because you take more and more control of your story, and it has less and less power over you.

Patricia Singleton said...

Lynn, thank you. Your answer was probably more helpful that mine was. Once I started talking about the incest, it was like someone had opened the flood gates in that the words just flowed out of me. What I talked about was the feelings - the fear and the rage and the emptiness that I felt at times. Once I started crying, I cried at meetings for at least a year. With all of the talking, I still didn't give details of the rapes. I wasn't comfortable enough for that.

Lynn C. Tolson said...

I don't know if my comment was helpful, but any combination of responses let's those on a healing journey know they are not isolated in their questioning. I mean, it's not like there is a rule book for recovery! I never ever talk about the details of the most heinous r*p*. I spelled it out once in Beyond the Tears. While I was writing that book, I was back in therapy to discuss the details for the first time (I was in my forties). I read the rough draft to the therapist. I asked her how detailed I should get; I didn't want to upset readers. She suggested I NOT sugar coat with polite words like "molestation", that the public can't deal with what they don't know. But her primary concern was my healing, and she said that I could not heal what I did not acknowledge in detail. Of course, I punished myself repeatedly for "telling" via migraines and ailments in the short term. In the long term, it's so much better to make sense of the trauma without hiding from the ugly details. Sorry so long. Big huge topic to me, esp relating to Miss Pink.

Patricia Singleton said...

Lynn, thanks for coming back to add more to your comment and mine. Miss Pinks question is a very valid one that no one has ever asked me before. I feel like I have stumbled all around it because I haven't thought about it before and am not sure how I feel about it myself. I am glad that Miss Pinks ask and that you have shared your own experiences with this topic. I appreciate you both being here.

Renee_1 Renee said...

I visited a forum for survivors after I had begun to work through my abuse. Reading through countless threads of people who were stuck in victim mode sent me into a state of depression. I've learned to avoid forums such as those. Life can be beautiful even in the mist of healing. I'm glad I came across this site.

Patricia Singleton said...

Renee_1 Renee, thanks for visiting and commenting. Yes, life can be "beautiful even in the mist of healing." I love those words, so descriptive. I hope that you will find the information here helpful.

Irene Cortez said...

You are a bright light, Patricia! Your post is very enlightening. Not only incest victims can benefit from this but other people who want healing from their own issues. I, for one, am still in the process of healing from depression and this article made me realize that I am not exerting much effort for my own healing. I learned that I have to work harder. I still get irritated and at times, feel rage, because of these so-called 'triggers' because of unresolved issues since my childhood. But thank you for your reminder that I have the power to resolve my own issues for my own personal healing.

Thank you for giving me hope, Patricia. God bless. :-)

Patricia Singleton said...

Irene, thank you for your comment. Yes, my post would apply to someone who is a survivor of any kind of abuse or depression issues-any kind of recovery or healing work that needs to be done. Victims don't feel that they have any kind of personal power. Survivors in healing claim their personal power sometimes for the first time in their lives.

You are very welcome. I am glad that my post was of help to you in your journey.

From Tracie said...

So much of this resonated with me today....especially triggers and paterns.

I love that you said, "Triggers don't happen to make you blow up all over someone else." I am dealing with someone right now in my personal life who allows themselves to blow up....and that sentence made it very clear to me what kind of boundaries I need to consciously set with that person.

Thank you for that!

Patricia Singleton said...

From Tracie, you are very welcome. Boundaries are such an important part of living a healthy life and something that few survivors were ever taught by their parents.

MissPinks said...

Wow, thank you Lynn for your answer, i do believe you are correct that telling your story gives you more control over the story and less power over you. Thank you for your response it was really helpful

Patricia thanks for your insight, its interessting to see how opening up led the way to continue talking about it and letting out what had been caged up inside of you. I hope one day i can share my story in this way. I find your blog posts really insightful and its interesting to read the comments, you have a wonderful blog here that seems to be helping many.

I guess what i am struggling with at the moment is the initial telling of the story, even without the details, which i find strange,
being as i have told it in the past, just when i was still in shock. Its now so hard. I was just wondering being as some surivors go through many cycles of acceptance and and denial, does their ability to tell their story change, and it does it mean, having to keep
breaking the silence, all over again. I dont know it just seems
so many aspects of healing are exhausting.

People who have mananaged to overcome their abuse by really living their life seem like angels on earth in my opinion. I don't know how they do it.
It so inspires me.

Thanks Patricia for this post!

Pinks

Patricia Singleton said...

Miss Pinks, you are very welcome. Everytime that I have told my story to a new person or a new group or even in a new way, it is different and I still have fears come up. Four years ago when I started sharing my story with this blog, I was scared of the reactions that I would get from anybody who read my words. This was after close to 20 years of telling my story in 12-Step groups.

Then I did a few guest blog articles on other people's blogs over the past few years, again the fear was there. Last year when I started doing radio interviews which now number four, the fear was there. Each time has gotten a little easier. The fourth radio interview, I wasn't shaking inside and outside like the first one.

When I started sharing my blog articles on Facebook and Twitter, that was another new audience. Does the fear of breaking the silence of abuse ever completely go away? You will have to ask someone else. For me the fear is smaller but it hasn't gone away yet. It is manageable.

Yes, many healing events can be exhausting. I take that as a sign that those events were big ones and I count those as major victories. Those events also teach me to take better care of myself. Sometimes I get busy with life and forget to do certain things that I need to do to take care of my body, my emotional and spiritual needs. All of those needs are important.

Taking care of those needs is loving myself the way that I deserve to be loved. All growth, even when it is painful is good because growth is stepping forward to meet life in all of its fullness.

Lynn said...

I ditto what Patricia said. Sometimes I am grateful for places I go where I don't tell my story, like a painting class. There, I feel comfortable in my own skin almost as if I did not have a story with dark undertones. It's part of the process of recovery to be with people and appear refreshed, instead of depressed. Therein lies the light. On the other hand: about 5 years ago I had to find a new doctor. In the initial interview, after going over my history of depression, migraines, fibromyalgia, etc. the woman DR asked, "Have you ever been sexually assaulted." I said NO! After years of speaking out at conferences about rape and suicide and how the medical profession needs to put 2 + 2 together, and figure out WHY a person has symptoms, I myself said NO. As she had her hand on the door at the end of my visit, I said, "I have something I should tell you." I then told her the fact of child abuse, not the details. That day was a set back, but I recovered to authenticity just in time. Besides, we were trained not to tell. Hard to untrain!

Patricia Singleton said...

Lynn, thank you. I have never had a doctor ask me about sexual abuse. I have volunteered the information because I feel like my incest issues play a big part in my physical illnesses over the years. I have even told my dentist because having someone that close, in my face, brings up the fight or flight response in me that being sexually abused does too.

From Tracie said...

I'm so glad that you submitted this to the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse...because it is awesome, and also because it gave me a chance to read through it again!!

There is so much good stuff in this post. This time around, I was struck by completely different things than I was the first time.

Patricia Singleton said...

From Tracie, thank you. I am glad that it resonates with you still. I should go and read it again myself. Thank you for hosting this month's Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. Is the Carnival posted yet?

Mrs4444 said...

Congratulations on having worked through your issues and healing from incest. I have done the same and feel very grateful to be a whole person today because of my work. Thanks for reaching out to others.

From Tracie said...

It is! I got it up this afternoon.

http://www.fromtracie.com/2011/07/blog-against-child-abuse-july-2011.html

Patricia Singleton said...

Mrs4444, thank you. You are very welcome. Reaching out to others helps to pass on what others have done for me over the years when I needed a helping hand or a kind word. I believe in paying it forward. No one should have to do this work of healing alone. As long as I am able I will continue to share my strength and hold with others.

Patricia Singleton said...

From Tracie, thanks for coming back and posting the link to Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse for July. I hope everyone that reads this post will join me in going to Tracie's blog From Tracie and reading the submissions from this month.

Veronica Messegee said...

Since reading abuse survivor blogs, I've noticed that so many of them seem to be wallowing in the abuse. I made that comment to my husband last night! I also said that I needed to blog about it, but you've done it so beautifully! For me and my experience, I talked about my abuse, but then crossed over into the wallowing. I had to learn that I was getting something out of being a victim to be able to move beyond that stage. That was an extremely difficult thing to accept about myself. Suffering was the drug that I was addicted to. I think that it might be a similar situation for most. To realize that they've been continuing their suffering because they are 'getting off' on it is a pretty ugly thing to accept. When you accept that, then you realize that you have a choice....that no matter what was done to you the crap left over is your fault if you don't do anything to get rid of it. Once you accept this, you can come to the realization that you have the personal powerful to do and to be what you choose. This is a hard lesson, but so empowing!

Patricia Singleton said...

Veronica, I was silent about the incest for so many years that when I finally found a safe place to talk about my experiences that it was like someone had opened flood gates. All of the words that I had held in just came pouring out of me. As with most adult children from dysfunctional homes I did extremes until I learned to look for and find the balance and harmony of middle ground.

Today I talk about my abuse to help others and in sharing my past, I have cleared the way for more issues to come up for myself - issues that I thought I was finished with.

In the beginning, I believe that each of us has to do a certain amount of wallowing in order to hear and validate our own suffering and neglect from our childhoods. How do you know when it is time to stop wallowing and move on? I think that is a question that we each have to ask ourselves. How did I know when that time came for me? I didn't hurt as much when talking about the incest. The rage was gone. I was ready to let joy and pleasure back into my life. I loved myself enough to let go.

Learning to love myself is the best thing that ever happened to me. Loving myself allowed the healing to happen.

I hope that you do write your own post on this topic Veronica. When you do, please come back and leave a link to it here. Have a glorious day.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Patricia it's Pam again. I really enjoyed this as it expresses a concern of mine. I too don't want to be defined by my abuse experiences. That's why I don't say much about it on my own site. I do want to get well and help others when I can but my abuse isn't the sum of who I am. I know I can't write about it every day even though I greately appreciate you and Darlene and some others who do.

I did this so backwards from most. I too responsibility for me a long time before I started placing blame where it belonged. I never could have changed my own behavior it I hadn't but I never could end my own inner turmoil or learn to relate to others in a healthier way if I hadn't put the blame where it belongs on thos who abused me.

I did have a lot of rage in my twenties but most of my anger was turned inward. I didn't beat on others, I beat on me. I had to turn my anger outward and aim it where it belonged. Anger can be good but when it is expressed in ways that endanger ourselves or others that expression has to change and the anger has to be directed toward those who hurt us so deeply. Being abused can be a reason for blowing up on some innocent person because the said the wrong thing but it is never an excuse. It is also good to look for the reasons in our past that are the root of our own bad behavior but our past is also never an excuse for our hurting others. No matter the reason for why we behave the way we do, we are always responsible for our own behavior and never for the behavior of another.

Pam

Patricia Singleton said...

Pam, a certain amount of blaming is healthy because it allows us to put the responsibility for the abuse back where it belongs. Blaming allowed me to get angry and claim it as mine for the first time. After awhile, if you are doing the work of healing, it is time to stop blaming and get on with healing. If all you do is continue to blame year after year after year and you don't work through the anger and let it go, the anger starts to hurt you in the form of illnesses and bitterness. Your anger doesn't hurt the abuser. They could care less. They have moved on to their next victim. Holding onto the anger makes you sick with arthritis or cancer or heart disease or high blood pressure or diabetes. In order to heal you have to let the anger go and you can't do that if you are still blaming. Those illnesses come from the anger turned inward that you talked about. Addictions are another way that you can harm yourself. As a survivor, you don't deserve to continue punishing yourself by turning your anger inward. You deserve to be free of all of that anger. Thank you for visiting and commenting here.

Anonymous said...

Pat, I don't turn my anger inward anymore and I have finally, in the last five years put the blame where it belonged. It was late last night so I probably didn't make myself clear. I just know that I don't want to stay in this spot as you described in your post. It's time to move to the next level. I do forgive my family, I just resolve the problems in our relationship alone. It makes me sad that I'm not worth enough to them to work on things but I have to respect that choice. I just don't have to hang around and be disrespected. I don't know if I forgive the men who abused me. On a certain level, I do but it's so long ago and I never dealt with the abuse correctly. I think they are as objectified in my thinking as I was when they abused me. Forgiveness comes in layers and it can't be forced. I want to be done with the sexual abuse portion of my life but I'm not sure that I am. I hope I make better sense this morning. Thanks for your posts and comments. Love,Pam.

Patricia Singleton said...

Pam, you make perfect sense. You are very welcome. My goal is to help others with sharing my experiences on my blog. In the process, I am doing some more of my own healing work as well.

I can't tell you whether we ever reach a place of not having to deal with incest issues. I do go for stretches of time when I don't have issues in my face. Then there are times like this month where I am back working on my issues as they come up.

The pain of this recent issue was mild compared to the pain of healing my early issues. The days that I don't have issues to work on now number greater than the days that I have to deal with incest issues. Thank you God.

I didn't consciously decide to forgive my abusers. The forgiveness was a consequence of letting go of my own hurt, rage and tears. It just happened when I was faced with my dad's possible death. I went to his hospital room to say I forgive you for what you did to me as a child. I didn't say it out loud because there were other people in the room and because my dad wouldn't have accepted it if I had probably. He was too busy raging against his doctor because he couldn't smoke in his room. All he cared about was his cigarettes. He was like a mean, cranky child who wanted what he wanted and didn't care about the consequences to him or anyone else. The words weren't for him anyway. The forgiveness was for me.