Archive for August 1st, 2008

This post is part of a series in which I am providing an overview of my healing process from child abuse. The story begins here.

As I continued to heal from my abusive past, I changed. I experienced an enormous amount of emotional growth. While I felt much better about myself, this rapid growth changed every single relationship in my life. That was challenging and continues to be a challenge to this day.

Relationships start out with a certain dynamic, and there is an expectation that the dynamic will continue indefinitely. The problem is that I am no longer the same person who entered into these relationships, and I am no longer willing to be the passive doormat. All of my relationships changed. Some became much better, but others felt the strain. Some went from what I thought was “really good” to being very challenging. (That was particularly true of family relationships.)

My husband has told me more than once that I am no longer the woman he married. He’s right – I’m not. I told him that I would understand if he wanted out, but he doesn’t. He wants me back the way I was, where I lived to make him happy and protect him from getting upset about life in general. That is not who I am any longer, and I cannot go back to that place. He has changed just enough to make it work, but it is a challenge. I am not the little girl who entered into this marriage many years ago.

I have outpaced many of my long-term friends in emotional growth. This has changed our friendships. There are characteristics that seem like “new” unhealthy behaviors that I have to recognize were always there: I just didn’t want to see them. Some of them are not people I would choose to befriend today, and yet I love them, so it is hard to figure out how to make those relationships work when we are in such very different places. When I love, I love deeply, so I continue to nurture some relationships that really are not the healthiest for me until I reach a place where I have to distance myself because it simply does not work any longer.

And then there are the challenges of new friendships. I have developed some newer friendships over the past year that both thrill me with the possibility of true emotional intimacy while, at the same time, scare the h@#$ out of me because they “see” me. I have always both wanted and feared being seen. These healthier friendships drive home how broken I still am. I am now too healthy for many of my unhealthy friendships to work and yet I feel too broken to trust that the healthy ones will work, which leaves me feeling isolated.

Unfortunately, this continues to be a struggle for me, so I have no answers for those of you in the same place. All I can offer is to travel the path with you.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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