It’s days like this that make recovering so hard. It is wonderful to have been raised an independent thinker, but it also means that there is a whole host of demons that come along with it. And given how individuality is worshipped by our society, it is so easy to feed “common thought” directly into those demons.
Everyone has their own demons, no one person’s demons are somehow “better” or “worse,” just different. But we’re primed to compare ourselves and our wounds with those around us. We’re primed to see other’s brokenness, pain and wounds as much “worse” than our own. We’re primed to want to sacrifice resources to help someone who is somehow “more in pain” than we are. Our society often places more of that expectation on women than man. I’m not saying that men are never expected to sacrifice. It’s simply a matter of women being taught always to sacrifice, regardless of whether we have children or not. Men tend to be expected to make more tangible sacrifices — such as financial, time spent away from the family or required to fix, repair or otherwise work physically (sometimes to the point where it destroys their health). Again, this is not about individuals (because there are some individuals who are not examples of this), but about a generalized group in our society.
Since waking up from a nap, which I desperately needed after a 5-hour stint of taking neuropsychology tests, and driving an almost 3-hour round trip (even though I wasn’t the one driving), my mind is still returning to that whole idea of “I don’t have it as bad as….”
It’s the whole idea that if I just had enough strength, enough discipline, enough willpower, I could overcome these issues. That out of sheer stubbornness I could have victory over this mental and emotional shit-storm.
The problem with that? It’s the same damned thing I told myself every fucking day for the last twenty years.
It’s the same thing that made me tell myself that because my ex-husband experienced horrendous and harrowing atrocities, especially at the hands of his family (something I was taught should be your ultimate safe space. No matter how bad they think of you, they will have your back), that I should simply ignore my needs, sacrifice my sanity, suppress my desires, because he somehow “deserved” that sacrifice from me.
Do children of mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse deserve better? Of course, they do. But, they also need to work on their own issues so that they can honestly say they are survivors and not victims.
Which, again, feeds into that internal critic. I actually fear being seen as a victim. It doesn’t match my own definition of my personality. I want to be seen as strong, as a survivor. I don’t want to be seen as weak, broken and discarded. We’ve been taught that a victim is passive, and has no part in saving themselves. We choose to be seen as survivors, ignoring that some of our choices in the past (supposedly when we were victims) were logical and reasonable AT THAT MOMENT IN TIME. We forget that victimhood is a state that we have been in, and may not truly ever leave behind.
I was a victim. I am still sometimes a victim. There are things that are done to me, rather than actively caused by my choices. But, I’m also a survivor.
When I was younger, I could say that I could never ask for help, let alone accept freely offered help. I was the one who needed to help others. Being married changed that. My pride was broken by the need to fix everything for my chosen family, never mind that it was an impossible task. I begged for help. I debased myself (as I viewed it), but I never truly wanted others to see me as vulnerable.
Even now, I have this view that somehow I can “hurry up and heal.” The reality is, I can’t. My healing, my recovery is not something that I can push to happen faster. I don’t truly have any control over the speed of my healing. I don’t have control over whether I backslide or move forward. Sometimes the best I can do is remember the Red Queen’s advice in Lewis Carroll’s original book “Through The Looking Glass and What Alice Found There” (seen below).
Thing is, just as with physical wounds, mental and emotional wounds take time to heal. In fact, I have been repeatedly told that it can often take half as long as the relationship to heal from it. In my case, that would be a decade. When I first heard that, I was dismissive about it. I looked at it and said, “that’s because someone isn’t willing to do the work.”
As I have said before, BUZZZ, sorry, thanks for playing.
I am still finding random bullshit that triggers a panic attack. I am still finding lies I have told myself. I am still finding memories where I have to honestly ask myself “WT-everloving-F!!” I still have nightmares that I am back stuck in that relationship that was never going to change. I still have points in my day that I find myself thinking that somehow I just wasn’t committed enough; I didn’t love enough; I didn’t try hard enough.
There is so much of me that needs redefining, because I need to make some very foundational changes in myself so that I don’t ever again fall into that trap.
And that process takes time. And it takes patience and mercy for myself which, unfortunately, are things I have never been good at giving myself.