I have been trying to convey an important concept, but I am clearly using the wrong words because I keep having to explain what I mean. The phrase I have been using is “farther along in healing,” which at least some readers are hearing as comparing the mile marker I have reached to the mile marker that someone else has reached. That’s not what I mean, and I can understand why believing that is my intent would frustrate someone else. So, let’s work together to come up with better terminology to explain the concept I am trying to convey.
Some of this is repeated from a comment I posted to a reader, so if you get deja vu while reading it, that would be why.
When I started l healing from child abuse, I wrestled with the following questions:
- Was I abused at all?
- Was the abuse really “that bad?”
- Does what I experience qualify as abuse or as a particular type of abuse (physical, ritual, sexual, emotional, etc.)?
- Can I survive the healing process?
- Is healing from child abuse really possible?
Different child abuse survivors might wrestle with one, a few, or all of these questions, or they might wrestle with completely different questions that fall under the same umbrella. This category is what I have been defining as “earlier” in healing. One survivor might work through these issues in a few months while another might take decades. My guess is that for most survivors, processing these questions probably takes years. At least, that was my own personal experience.
The second category, which I have been calling “farther along in healing,” encompasses child abuse survivors who have resolved most or all of these questions. I no longer doubt that I was abused. I recognize that the abuse was “that bad.” I have settled on the labels that work for me (and in some cases have decided that a label is irrelevant), and I know at a heart level that the healing process is survivable.
For me, there wasn’t a particular moment when I crossed that line for good. I spent years going over and back, over and back, over and back. However, I am now solidly on the other side of the line. I will likely never fully heal from every wound, but I am solid in accepting my history and knowing at a heart level that I am going to be OK.
I think there is value in people who have crossed that line, whether only in some ways or in all ways, interacting with those who have not. The support I received from people on the other side of the line was immensely helpful to me in my own healing journey, and I want to pay it forward.
Can someone please suggest terminology that explains this concept? I feel like I keep going in circles with people thinking I am judging their experiences, building myself up as an expert on things I am not, etc., when all I am trying to say is that I want to offer others the same hope that was once offered to me. Anyone?
Photo credit: Hekatekris