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Posts Tagged ‘end of healing process’

On my blog entry Flashbacks as Dreams after Child Abuse, Simon posted the following comment:

A thing ive been thinking about alot and makes me sad is this :-
If we lived a thousand years life couldnt make up for what its took away from us. How do you live with that? Knowing that your playing catch-up in life but you know you never will? Yeah, one day i might be happy, i might even have my own children and that would be amazing. But we have missed out on so much, feel so bitter. I dont think that will ever go away for me.

Yes, there is a lot to grieve after child abuse. However, as you heal, you find a lot to be grateful for, too.

For example, when I find myself feeling present, I appreciate the beauty of the world around me in a way that most people never do. I will look at the sky and think about how amazing it is that we have such beauty to behold whenever we look up. I see the beauty of the world in the leaves of the trees, especially at this time of year as the leaves begin to change colors. Many people who were never abused go through their entire lives never appreciating the beauty that is all around them if they would only take the time to look.

I also find that most things that the average person struggles with in life are easy for me. I will never face a challenge as daunting as having several people who are four times my size harm me. Compared to what I endured as a child, the basic stressors of life seem easy.

Another thing that has brought me peace is embracing a belief in reincarnation, which I wrote about in Understanding Child Abuse through Reincarnation and Reincarnation and Karma after Child Abuse. Before I believed in reincarnation, all I saw was the areas in which I was cheated in life. Now that I have embraced the truth of reincarnation, I no longer feel cheated.

I used to grieve that I would never know a healthy mother-daughter relationship. I have since recovered a past-life memory of having a mother who loved me dearly. I had a brief “flash” of her holding me in her arms and of me feeling very safe. This helped me recognize that an absence of a loving mother-daughter relationship in this lifetime is not forever.

This lifetime is only one of many, and the purpose of each life is to learn lessons to become more loving, compassionate, patient, etc. The fact that all of us experienced such terrible abuse but came out of it as compassionate people proves that we are learning our life lessons. I truly believe that this lifetime was a “final exam” of sorts for me.

Also, I do not believe that the purpose of life is to be “happy.” Instead, it is to grow and to help others grow. This gives my life and experiences purpose and meaning rather than the abuse just being random bad luck.

For me, finding meaning and purpose in my life experiences has helped remove the bitterness for the abuse that I have suffered.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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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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Plant (c) Lynda BernhardtMany adult survivors of child abuse ask the question of whether the healing process from child abuse has an end. The answer to this question is both yes and no, depending upon your definition of the “end” of the healing process.

A friend gave me an analogy that describes the child abuse healing process well. She compares it to raising a child. Are you ever finished with parenting a child? The answer is both yes and no, depending upon how you define the “end” of parenting. There is an end to changing diapers. There is an end to needing a babysitter. There is an end to being legally responsible for the choices your child makes. There is an end to your child living in your house.

However, is there an end to parenthood? No. For the rest of your life, you are your child’s parent, and your child will continue to need you, just in different ways. Your adult child will not need a diaper change, but she will need your advice about her career or her marriage. He will need you to babysit your grandchildren so he can show his wife some undivided attention. Once you are a parent, you are always a parent. That job has no end: It simply changes.

This is the way that I have come to view the healing process from child abuse. I am past the “diaper phase,” which is what I consider the flashbacks that “pooped” all over my life for three years. I would say that I have reached the teen years now. For the most part, I am independent. I no longer need my therapist. I do not feel the need to talk about my child abuse history on a regular basis. However, as a teenager’s hormones will make him moody at times, I find this about myself. Out of nowhere, I will feel blindsided by residue from the past.

However, even when the residue hits, it is never like it used to be. I no longer have visual flashbacks. When I have emotional flashbacks, I recognize them for what they are and know how to comfort myself through them. I no longer hate myself or feel shame for the actions that others inflicted upon me. So, that chapter of the child abuse healing process is over for me. However, I will spend the rest of my life comforting myself when the residue hits.

As a person who likes a beginning, middle, and end, it was hard for me to accept that healing would never be “over.” However, I have come to appreciate that, as I continue to heal, I continue to grow. That is what life is supposed to be about, anyhow.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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