Which part of my history or healing do I dive into first? Then where do I go from there? With so much happening these days, I’ve been nearly lost in the swirl of thoughts running around my head. This has made it a tad overwhelming in determining where to start. What is clear to me now is that I’m overthinking things, so consider today’s post a bit of a brain dump. I’m going to lay some of this out there, in no particular order or fashion, because it feels like the only way to move forward. Consider it a quick synopsis of where I am.
I’ve been spending this past year working on some pretty deep stuff with a therapist. I tried therapy briefly three times in the past, but either I wasn’t ready or I never fully connected with the therapist. The best example would be my last attempt a couple of years ago, which promptly ended after the 3rd session. It was in this early session that the therapist was already pushing me to have conversations with an empty chair, imagining it was my grandfather sitting there. The point was to confront him about the abuse that I had only just myself started to fuzzily recall. While I’m sure this technique can be very helpful, in this case it felt rushed and made me highly uncomfortable. I felt like I had to fake my way through just to get it over with, and so I did. Then I never returned. It didn’t sour me to the thought of therapy, I just knew that there had to be a different way. After some time passed, I finally did some research and reached out to someone else. This go-round has been spot on.
I’ve been exploring the impact of growing up with an alcoholic and substance abusing father and a mother who tried to do the right things, but was so deep in a depression stemming from her own difficult childhood, she wasn’t consistent or present in the way that I needed. I played the role of an adult to take care of not just myself, but my mother in her fragile state and my father in his drunken one. There was also the isolation and fear that being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses further developed. (To write this so openly still sends chills through me even all of these years later.) Then, as hidden and unnoticeable as I tried to stay throughout the years of moving from school to school, I was consistently a prime target for bullying. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how cruel kids can be. Beyond all of that lies the sexual abuse by a grandfather, along with inappropriate sexual behaviors by other men while I was growing up. To round it out, there was the emotionally (and borderline physically) abusive marriage to a narcissist with rape fantasies during my twenties.
It would be fair to say that I’ve had a bit going on in my head these days. In fact, looking at the sentences above that barely scratch the surface, I can admit that it’s pretty incredible that I’ve made the life that I have for myself after having gone through all of this. I don’t seem to be suffering from depression, I have a great job and husband, and I’m not strung out or in any abusive situations today. Although, I have recently started to seriously consider that I may be using alcohol too much, but it’s just one more piece of myself that I’m trying to work out. Speaking of trying to work things out, I’m also struggling to find my way on a spiritual level after decades of feeling disconnected in that area. Talk about adding another heavy layer to my recovery.
Let’s talk for a moment about recovery. The definition of is:
- a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength
- the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost
Having been in a safe place for over 10 years, I found myself at a point about a year ago where I could finally start opening up to my past and learn how to heal. It took me months to understand and accept that what I’m experiencing is recovery. Recovery from anxiety, recovery from my stolen innocence, recovery from a lost childhood, and recovery from fear. There are moments that terrify me, there are moments where I feel relieved and enlightened, and then there are the moments that I want to push everything back deep inside so that I don’t have to feel the pain. Breaking through the barrier that I’ve built around me since childhood is the hardest fight that I’ve ever been through, but without a doubt, it’s been the most important one. I will forever be a work in progress, but I am already stronger, more self-assured, and filled with more genuine happiness and peace than I had just a year ago. Something significant is shifting in this life of mine, and I look forward to seeing where else recovery takes me.