Surviving any kind of abuse or assault doesn’t mean the hard part is over. In fact, I often feel like it was easier to still be a victim. And I should know – I spent years after still playing that role.
In the aftermath of my abusive past, I went through several phases that are much like grief. I denied everything was as bad as it really was. I blamed. I cried. I was angry. I built my walls higher and with better materials. I whimpered in the corners of my heart and felt sorry for myself, and I worked overtime to get others to feel sorry for me too. I added brick after brick to my already towering walls, anything to protect me and deny that I was still so broken from what happened. My roller coaster ride drew in people and then pushed them away.
In all my pain, I rarely lashed out at other people. I was, apparently, content to just hurt myself. And I did a lot of that. Sometimes I still do. Sometimes I’m just as mean to myself as my abusers were. Sometimes I let them stand in front of me and lash out at me with their memories.
It’s horribly hard to decide it’s time to thrive. It takes great leaps of courage to say, “I will not be the victim anymore.” To stand up again and again and again is the toughest thing I have ever had to do. It is the toughest thing I still have to do. The past is ugly and can eat away at me day after day if I allow it to.
Surviving is sometimes the easy part. Beginning to thrive and live with joy when the closet is so full of such disgusting ghosts is indescribable work. Blood, sweat and tears go into the climb up out of the pit of pain and pity, and there is much stumbling and getting up again…and again…but the journey is worth it.
I’m not completely there yet – it’s been 14 years – but I’m on my way.