I have not been back to my hometown (where the child abuse happened) in a couple of years. I have a lot to process after this trip. I am not sure how much I will blog about and how much I will do privately, but I want to get out at least a few things in today’s blog.
Let’s start with the good stuff – I could tell in the moment how much I have grown. Typically, before I make a visit to my hometown, I am triggered and “off” for weeks beforehand. That did not happen this time. This is probably due in part to how busy I was with one of my part-time jobs. (Blessedly, I get a break from that now!) However, I don’t think that is the only reason. Even in times when I was driving or otherwise not engaging my mind with work, I wasn’t triggered or fretting about visiting my hometown. I think this shows a lot of growth. Finally – I am seeing a payoff on this!
I don’t recall being triggered while I was there. I had a few times where I thought, “We are crossing the state line. This is where I typically see things around me ‘darken.’” But that didn’t happen. I actually noticed fewer “anxiety geysers” while I was there than I had in my day-to-day life at home. Another positive step forward.
I was also able in the moment to recognize my growth in many areas and not feel badly about it. Let me explain what I mean by that … While growth is a great thing, it also comes with loss. The more I grow, the more the relationships around me are affected. The healthier I become, the more I become the “odd man out” whenever I interact with dysfunctional people. This includes family (father’s side, not momster’s side) and some of my friends from high school.
Being the “odd man out” was always a “bad” thing when I was a kid, and even as an adult, feeling “different” would trigger feelings of shame. I felt no shame on this trip even though I frequently did feel like the “odd man out.” Instead, I felt grateful to recognize that I am no longer in that painful place.
Here’s one example – My high school friends and I had a huge dinner, and then they wanted to go back to the hotel room, drink margaritas, and snack. As I have shared previously, I have given up drinking alcohol (at least for now) because I didn’t like how it made me feel. I have already spent most of my life being dissociated – I want to stay present. I have also shared that I used to binge eat as a coping mechanism, always needing access to food.
Watching them get drunk and stuff their faces after we just ate a huge meal made a big impression on me. I saw where I used to be. I was thinking, “How could they possibly be hungry after that big meal?,” but I already knew the answer because I was once like that. The eating was not about nourishment. I wasn’t being judgmental of them – I was just noticing how far I have come.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt