It was recently suggested to me on my Face Book to not read anything negative for a month because I should surround myself with happy thought for my own good.
I think many survivors of abuse have heard similar “advice” from well meaning “friends” and family. They view your pain as a negative thing, the fact that you are not “just getting over it and putting it behind you” is perceived as staying in the past and dwelling on the negative.
I remember worrying about being a “downer”, when your whole world comes crashing in around you and no one seems to understand your incapacitating pain it can force you to suppress your pain which is so unhealthy. Pain does not have to be a “bad” thing, it usually means you are going though a life changing period of growth. Unfortunately real personal growth often comes from personal loss or some traumatic event.
I don’t believe in feeling sorry for yourself and forever being the victim; yes something horrible happened to you and you need to put your big girl panties on (or man up) and play the cards you are dealt, no one can do it for you. BUT the odd pity party is allowed, tears are healing, in fact it is scientifically proven that tears wash toxins out of your body. That is why people will say they “Had a really good cry” because often times you do feel better after a good cry. It DOES help to talk about what happened to you, your brain needs to process the events in order to understand and know what to do with it. When you are in an abusive relationship as a form of survival the brain blocks a lot of the pain, you simply can not deal with it all at once, there is so much drama and trauma going on, the victim has to just let some things go. But it is never gone, it lays dormant until you are strong enough to deal with it. That is what I have come to describe as a “healing crisis”. Just when you feel you are finally starting to heal and get stronger, something happens and you are thrown back into a pit of despair. You feel you have made no progress at all, you will never heal!! you feel like giving up. DON’T!! believe it or not it is a good thing, you have gotten strong enough that now you can deal with some of that buried hurt. Believe me, you want to get it all out now, cleanse yourself of all those toxins so you can face the future free of all that negativity. Talking about your ex, crying, reliving the past are all signs of healing and that is a positive. Looking at the “bright side” is what kept you in the abusive relationship.
Facing reality can be perceived as a negative or a positive. Fluffy kittens and inspirational poems can be perceived as positivity but then a video of an abused pit bull being rescued from a dog fighting ring might provoke tears and even anger at the thought people who would do this to any living thing exist in the world could be perceived as negative, or is it positive because there are people out there who will not tolerate it and do what they can to bring awareness and dedicate their lives to saving these poor dogs and giving them a life of love and caring?
Is it negative of me to make people face the fact that domestic abuse is rampant in the world and one in 3 women will suffer abuse at the hands of someone they love or is it positive of me to take the most horrific experience of my life and use it as a tool to inform society and tell other victims that they are not crazy and they are not alone?
It is negative to go through life as a victim but I see nothing negative about going through life a survivor, raising awareness and helping others who follow behind me.
Jane Goodall has spent her life saving gorilla’s and speaking about how we are destroying the world and trying to educate society on how to live a more sustainable life. Is that negative? I see her as an amazingly positive strong woman who stands by her convictions and has been relentless in her pursuits no matter what the perceived cost was to her personally. I am not comparing myself to Jane Goodall by any stretch of the imagination, she is someone I have the utmost respect for and could only hope to cause the positive changes in the world that she has. But I do feel driven to do what I can, I am only one voice but maybe by speaking out I give others a voice or the courage to speak out, or at the very least by example show other victims that they too can be a survivor.
Some people may view my life and think that when I had the 3000 sq ft home and entertained friends and family with lavish meals and spent hundreds of dollars on elaborate Christmas celebrations and $100 hanging baskets adorned my house every summer as positive and living in a 14 ft 40 year old holiday trailer with its seams busting open as a negative. But in order to judge you would have to know how I feel inside. When I was in the 3000 sq ft home my face broke out so badly it looked like someone threw acid in my face, I was in so much pain with my neck my shoulder atrophied and I was hooked on pain pills and after every dinner or party I hosted I agonized over every little detail thinking how I could have done better. Whether my toilet was clean or dirty was more important than spontaneously hopping in the car and going for a picnic with the family. Doing what others thought I should be doing was more important than doing what made me happy. I also drank copious amounts of wine every day.
Today I can barely make it through one cooler and two will make me rosey cheeked and giggly, my toilet can be dirty and I can actually go to bed with dirty dishes in my sink. I do what makes me happy and if other people don’t like it, well too bad. And I am very proud of the little glamperized trailer I managed to fix up. Oh there were times I was pretty negative about that dang thing, I tried so many different ways to close in that back end, it challenged me in many ways, my tools are still in Clearwater, I was doing it alone and having a man to help would have made it easier (actually I probably wouldn’t have been doing it at all if I had a man around to do it), I almost killed myself while stripping the paint off the counters and table top, but now that it is finished I am so proud of what I accomplished. People who were too polite to tell me what they really thought admitted they thought I had just bought a piece of shit I would be stuck with forever. I could live in 14 feet and be happy, because I have inner peace and pride in myself. That is why my ex can’t get to me any more. I don’t care what he has, where he lives or if she was able to exorcise the evil out of him and give him a heart, I know how he treated me and so far all he has done is blame me for my own abuse and try to sabotage anything good that comes into my life. That is not the actions of a healthy or changed man. I rest my case. No one can ever make me feel less than because I live true to me.
Of course practicality has to come into play also and I have moved into a basement suite where stella has a fenced yard and it is cheaper than a campsite. I could view it as a negative that I did all that work on the trailer and now can’t even live in it or I can view it as a positive learning experience and use it to one day fix up another little bit larger trailer to live in.
I was at my first visit with a counselor for PTSD on Monday. She was asking me questions and I was answering truthfully and as you can well imagine I only skimmed the surface of what I went through with my ex. At once point she blurted out “Holy Fuck!” and then covered her mouth and excused her language. At the end of the session she asked me what I got out of the relationship with my ex and I for the first time in the whole hour I had been there I got tears in my eyes as I told her about the blog and how gratifying it is to me every time I get a comment or email saying I saved someone’s sanity or even life. I also told her about feeling like a puzzle someone had dropped on the floor with some pieces missing and pieces from a puzzle that didn’t belong and not having a clue how to put myself back together. How I took every piece of the puzzle that I have always been told was me and examined it and decided whether it belonged in my puzzle or not and some things I kept but worked on changing some aspect of, like being too sensitive or reacting without thinking and the end result is; I would not change a thing from my past because I have gained so much from the experience and have so much more inner peace and live my life true to me and no one else.
She concluded by saying she thinks I have a very clear idea of who I am, have dealt with things appropriately and she is actually amazed I was able to do it without help. What I am dealing with is no longer the abuse from my ex, it is the abuse by the welfare system and society post abuse. She said that sometimes it helps a person to deal with situational stress and depression to just talk about it in a safe environment and I agree. I am not depressed about my ex or the abuse, I am depressed and frustrated by a horribly inadequate welfare system that does nothing to help a person get back on their feet, in fact they put obstacles in the way.
For a long time all I could talk about was what I went through with my ex, it consumed me at all times but I could see people shutting down and I actually got sick of talking about it. It took a long time and I can’t tell you exactly when things changed but I am able to have a normal conversation, even make small talk (something I had totally forgotten how to do), my sense of humor is back and my ex is not the top thing on my mind.
Have no doubt, if someone near me makes a false judgment about victims of abuse, makes some uneducated declaration of “what they would do” I take the opportunity to educate them. Is that being negative? I don’t think so, I think it shows a person can survive abuse, discuss abuse in a calm and rational way without falling apart without it consuming every conversation all night.
Negativity vs positivity is all in the individual’s perception and mindset. Burying pain, ignoring a problem, putting your head in the sand, never ever makes a problem go away.