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Archive for August 13th, 2008

On my blog entry My Healing Process from Child Abuse: Setting Boundaries, Simon posted the following comment:

I often wonder just how much different ill be after all this. I want to be the same as i was before but without the negative bits! lol. I’m waiting for your post on “how much better you are now” after going through all your hard work. hint-hint, lol.

Many child abuse survivors who are in the early stages of healing from child abuse ask some version of this question. They want to know that there is an end to the healing process (the sooner, the better), and they want to hear that their lives will be much easier after they complete the healing process.

I have good news and bad news. I’ll start with the bad news – The healing process is never “over.” That is an unrealistic expectation that will only bring you frustration. However, the child abuse healing process is really about growth, so you will always been improving and continue to move into a better place than you were. Even now, as I continue to struggle with depression after my visit to my hometown, I am in a much better and healthier place than I was a few years ago.

The child abuse healing process is not about the absence of pain and struggle. Instead, it is about growth. The best analogy I have is of raising a child. Once you become a parent, you are never “done.” Even a person in his forties sometimes still “needs his mommy,” such as to babysit the children so he can nurture his marriage.

However, different phases of parenting do have an end. My son is now seven, so the diaper and potty-training years are blessedly behind us. I am still a parent. I am still facing challenges as a parent of a seven-year-old, but those challenges are different from those of his toddler years.

The same is true of my healing process today. I have not recovered a flashback in a very long time, so if you define the child abuse healing process as being “over” when the flashbacks stop, then I am “done.” However, I continue to struggle with other challenges that are all part of growth. I will go into more details in tomorrow’s post, but my struggles at this stage of healing surround facing painful truths about my life today instead of my life in childhood.

As for being who I was before without the negative bits – again the answer is both yes and no. From the outside, I am very different from who I used to be five years ago before beginning the healing process. I am much more assertive and have the ability to set boundaries. This has changed every relationship in my life. However, I have always been “me.” I was the person who had lost touch with who that was. I am finding that am not “losing the negative stuff” so much as I am discovering who I have always been.

I have always been a strong, insightful, and compassionate person. Other people knew this about me, which is what drew them to me. I was the one who did not know this about myself. I thought that I was weak and loathsome. I first recognized the truth about myself after attending a high school reunion a few years back. I had always thought of myself as worthless before my healing work, but I saw through these friends from 20 years ago that the things I love most about myself have always been there – I was the one who was unable to see it.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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