If you could go back and speak to yourself when you were 5, 10 or 15 what would you say?
If you were able in some way to go and be there with yourself as you were struggling to come to terms with abuse in your early life, as you were actually facing it, what would you say to your younger self?
I was in my 40’s when I began recovery. Up until then I would have said I was doing okay – but that was only because I had buried most of how I felt so I wouldn’t have to worry about it – I thought it was all well hidden away and that I had been able to build a life for myself despite the abuse. But when my 18 year marriage imploded and my husband told me he didn’t love me or the kids and just wanted to be free and single and able to travel and just live his own life, I realised that my past was not buried but like a stinking corpse I was dragging along behind me – I was chained and shackled to it and it was going to impact on my everyday life until I took some action to really deal with it.
In recovery I learned that I needed to grieve over what I had lost in the past but that before I could even grieve over it I needed to let myself feel how it had felt. Because at the time I couldn’t let myself feel any of it – that’s how I survived – but the time had come for me to stop hiding the pain of it from myself – it was time to let myself actually feel the pain of what I had gone through.
I learned that we need to release our pain. It needs to go somewhere and for me it went as I wrote down my story – every detail as well as I could – first just the barest facts and then, as part of a healing process, how I actually felt in those terrifyingly dark moments when I was being abused. You may find other ways to do this – telling a therapist – using art – but you must find a way to get what you have been holding onto for so long out into the open somewhere other than in your head.
In recovery I learned that words have a great power to heal and I began to use positive affirmation to start to replace all those memories with new ideas – things like You are Beautiful - Despite what you went through, you are okay. I began to allow myself to believe those words.
I had children then – amongst them, three little girls and one morning, as I watched my youngest girl sleep I pictured what it would have been like for her if she had been abused in the way I had at her age. It began a profound process where I spent some time imagining how it would have been for each of them, at their varying ages, if they had been abused as I was. I imagined what I would say to them, how I would comfort them, how I would work to rebuild their sense of self and worth afterwards. It was a deep and intense process but I began to realise what I had always longed to hear but never had.
I‘m sorry that happened to you.
It’s not your fault.
You didn’t make any of it happen.
It was not about you
You are not bad.
It was about him.
You are beautiful
You are going to be okay
What words would you whisper to yourself?
How would you encourage your child self, knowing what you do now?
Now, imagine how you would feel now if those words had been said to you back then.
Take a moment to allow them to seep in to who you were as a child and imagine how you would feel if you had grown up with those words instead of the memory of a secret you were too afraid to tell and a nightmare you had to walk alone.
In recovery we can tap into a transformation that allows us to heal as if it had never happened. We can literally begin today to whisper those words to our child heart that has waited too long to be told what it is so desperate to hear and we can say it over and over and over again.
We can release what we have held on to and allow this new image of our self to become who we are.
♥ ~ Sue
Sue Parry-Jones is a trained counsellor, a social worker and survivor of abuse. The content of the blog is both personal and sound. The words are relate-able and widely appealing to those struggling with survival from abuse in their own lives. More and more we are appreciating in our society that abuse affects a number of people’s lives and as more people are beginning to openly discuss what they have endured, so there is a huge need for encouragement and hope in the form of texts that deliver clear and concise yet real input. THe words shared here are honest, real and heart-felt.