I met a very new survivor of domestic violence recently and she expressed fatigue over the journey so far. She mentioned that it’s been several months and she can’t seem to get it all together. My heart broke for her. Though many people were helping her, many others were rushing her to be better NOW. You’re free, what’s the problem?
As she spoke, I nodded, trying to validate everything she was saying.
“I still love him.”
“He’s the father of my children.”
“I don’t know how to be on my own.”
“I hope I’m better soon.”
“I still love him…I just do.”
I was torn between letting her know the journey is long and in wanting her to have hope for something sooner rather than later. And I wanted her to understand that it’s OK to take her time but also not to stay long in the shadows. Healing is a balance of allowing yourself to process your feelings while also trying to move forward.
Had someone told me what my journey was going to look like, I might have hesitated in even starting. Because like many things, it can get worse before it gets better.
Instead, I told her there will be really good days, and there will be really bad days, and it’s OK to have both. But then the really good days come much more often. I encouraged her to seek counseling now, and to find safe people to share with (like saying she misses him without being rebuked), and more than anything, to give herself grace. I invited her to explore all her feelings rather than shoving them down. Most of all, I wanted us to part ways with her knowing she is allowed to feel what she’s feeling.
I don’t have the magic quick fix answer to anything because every story is different, but I do have the ability at least to lean in and listen. That’s something we all have to give.