Of all the tasks that we face in emerging from an abusive relationship,
healing the damage from the abuse is the most difficult and the task that
inevitably takes the longest. Our finances can be rebuilt; our emotions will
rebound; bruises will heal; new friends can be made; new partners found.
But those anguishing memories; those painful thoughts about ourselves; these
are difficult to escape. It can be done. But it takes time. And it takes work, and a determination to
Abuse hurts. It hurts a lot. But the healing task is not so much about the
pain. Because, in our minds, each abusive act is a message we recieve about us.
It doesn't make a lot of difference if the act is physical, verbal, sexual,
emotional, social, financial or whatever. From the healing perspective, each
abusive act done to me is burned into my memory. And each carries with a message
- a message that I am unworthy. A message that I deserve to be treated with
contempt. A message that my feelings don't matter; that my needs don't matter. A
message that I am worthless, of no consequence, and little more than a
source of pain for my partner.
And all of these message are lies - vicious, hurtful lies. And over time
these messages build up in our memories, until the real truth about what we
becomes overwritten with abusive lies. When we think about ourselves, when we
react to events or people around us, we begin to react in the context of this
mass of abusive distortions - in effect, the we begin to feel about ourselves to
match the way we have been abused. And because all this is based on memory, and because
our memory is very long-lasting, the effect of abuse on us goes on and on long
after we escape from the abusive treatment.
Within in each of us is a beautiful, loving spirit. The truth about each of
us that we are giving, caring, intelligent individuals; people with so much to
give and so much potential in life. This is our truth. The details will vary
from one person to another, but each us has a rich and precious spirit that
needs and deserves to be seen, to be cherished, and be free to guide us in a
loving and fulfilled life.
To heal the abuse, we have to over-write those abusive lies in our memory. We
have to explore the truth of our inner spirit (Chapter
4.) We have to learn, with help from others, the things that make each of us
precious, learn how to say, "I am a precious and wonderful person."
And we need to say it, and hear it, over and over again.
Just as our abusers worked over time to program our minds with lies, we have
to work to re-program our minds with truth. People say that time heals all
wounds. NOT! Healing takes work; healing takes determination. We know that we
have been deeply wounded by the abuse. To heal, we have to accept to that there
is long work ahead of us in healing. But it can be done. And even better,
it need not be done alone. There are many, many others with experiences
very much like ours, people who also face a long healing path. These people are
there today, ready to embrace me, ready to embrace you, and share the burden of
re-learning what we are truly about.
But let's be honest. Safety is a prerequisite. There is no way we can undo
the damage from abuse that is still going on. We cannot hope to save ourselves
from damage at the same time are choosing to accept more damage. If you are still in an abusive situation, read on. I hope it will empower
you. Certainly you can do some good for yourself, whatever your circumstance.
But is your goal is to heal; to be happy; to fulfill your potential in life; to
become all you can become... then you will have to free yourself from the abuse.
And, to make real progress in healing, we have to be working on putting some
other emotional things in order. We need to have re-established contact with
healty people, honestly discussing our experiences, so that we can establish a
solid understanding of what is right and wrong in what has been happening (Chapter
2.) We need a good grounding in how a personality disordered person behaves;
some idea of what motivates them in these behaviors; and a grasp of how we, in
coping with them, play a part in the dance of that disease (Chapter
3.) Often we struggle with powerful feelings of love that draw and bind us
to our abusive partner, Understanding what these in-love feelings are about, and
how being in-love is different from having a loving relationship is critical to
overcoming these powerful bonds (Chapter 5.)
And we need to face our pre-conceptions about obligation - those beliefs that we
have to stay and take it because... well, we think we have to. Peeling
back these accepted mandates and figuring out what is really important is
critical (Chapter 6.)
In this chapter, I explain how I envision our minds working. Then
I'll explain how abuse sets our minds against us, and the pain that
results. Finally, I'll tell you how I think we can work to heal that damage. The
title section talks about how our spirit helps to guide us towards areas of our
lives that we haven't properly nurtured, and the role that tears (oh, so many
tears) play in our healing. Finally I share my own learning about me need for
someone to appreciate my love and care, and how music opened my eyes to that.