The road to healing is full of bumps, potholes, and detours. Some days it feels as if I will never make it to my destination and the effort is futile. I find myself exhausted by devastating setbacks and crushed by the weight of the baggage I carry. As I continue to move forward despite the obstacles in my path, I find that no matter how small of a step I take it adds to the overall distance covered. Every inch is progress and it all adds up in the end. Not every mile marker will come easily and I’m sure I will lose hope again, but only momentarily. I understand now, that the road to healing is not linear and the ups and downs are to be expected along the way.
My upbringing encouraged me to hold in my emotions and deny my secrets. While this muting was not malicious, it resulted in devastating consequences for my life. A strong person, I was taught, was one who did not react to emotional situations. Only strong people restrain themselves and their feelings. Love was one of the emotions kept under wraps encompassing the physical and verbal expressions. In the end, hiding the abuse my children and I suffered at the hands of their father/my ex-husband resulted in physical and emotional illness, job loss and financial ruin. I can’t help but wonder how different things would be if I was encouraged to share my thoughts and feelings. It is difficult and many times uncomfortable to share my story or “sing my song” but I know the process is healing and I am determined to prevail.
Secrets breed pain and misunderstanding. Seeing your story in writing or hearing it told through spoken word denies the secret of it’s power. Stories should be told, pain must seek relief, and the shadowy world of dark secrets needs light.
Shelter from the cold, enough food to eat, safety, love and a purpose in life. What riches behold those who count these blessings in their life. The ability to see and acknowledge the wealth of what we already have leads us to pure contentment.
As much as I cringe at the memory of some of my life experiences, time has proven them a potent learning tool. Reading a book, attending a lecture, listening to my parents or friends could never teach me life’s lessons so clearly. People who dole out hurt and manipulation exist in this world in higher numbers than I care to acknowledge. The role these people in our lives is painful but incredibly wisdom forming for those who survive. There was a time when I wished for a different life where bad things never happened, and people never hurt or mistreated me. Without those bad experiences, I would not be the same person. Yes, many broken pieces of me still need mending but once healed those pieces will be stronger than ever before.
I love this diagram explaining the layers of healing. My knowledge of the healing process was almost non-existent when my journey began. In fact, just getting to the first layer “Naming Abuse” was a marathon in itself. I naively believed that removing myself and my children from the abusive situation and finding safety would fix everything. In reality, we were all in the beginning stages of healing, and all of us are in different layers now. I am happy to say we all understand and can name the abuse we endured. We are all safe now and have resources to help us continue our journey on a different path. The final six layers are different and very personal to each of us. A handbook, instruction manual, and a map would have been very helpful in the beginning. We are here to support each other no matter how damaged we may still be. The collective knowledge we have of shared traumatic experiences and our need for healing is invaluable as the journey continues.