The soul cannot forgive until it
is restored to wholeness and health.
In the absence of love - how can one forgive?

With an abundance of love, starting with one's self,
forgiveness becomes a viable opportunity.
-Nancy Richards

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Go Swimming with a Survivor!

When I first became estranged from my mother, I felt like I was drowning in an ocean of pain.

Suffering from the cumulative effects of abuse and estrangement, I fervently wished my mother would drive up in a boat, and rescue me from the ocean. She didn't.

But, the truth is - nobody could "rescue" me. I had to rescue myself. Authentic recovery meant doing the hard work, and swimming the distance to shore. But, what did happen was remarkable. One by one, people jumped into the ocean and began to swim with me. As I fought the tide:
  • They helped keep me safe.
  • They kept me company.
  • They gave me validation, and encouragement.
  • They shared my experience.
  • Some already understood my struggle; others were interested in understanding, but either way-
  • In essence, they said, "I know this is a huge struggle, and I'm not going to leave you alone. I'm going to swim with you.
I'll be forever grateful!

So, I continue to swim - for myself - and for other survivors.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mid-Life Crisis: Abuse and Transformation

As a younger adult, whenever I heard the term "Mid-Life Crisis," I conjured up stereotypical images of middle aged men foolishly trying to reclaim their youth with fast cars and young, gorgeous women.

However, according to Wikipedia there are many causes of - and reactions to - Mid-Life Turmoil:

A midlife crisis could be caused by aging itself, or aging in combination with changes, problems, or regrets over:

  • work or career
  • spousal relationships
  • maturation of children
  • aging or death of parents
  • physical changes associated with aging

Midlife crises seem to affect men and women differently. Researchers[6] have proposed that the triggers for mid-life crisis differ between men and women, with male mid-life crisis more likely to be caused by work issues.

I'd add to the Wikipedia list - Abuse Recovery.

According to Wikipedia, one of the characteristics of a Mid-Life Crisis, is "a deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished."

The "computer girl" part of me has been diligent about achieving goals, especially goals associated with business. But, there is one goal that often eludes abuse survivors - "the pursuit of happiness" or should I say emotional freedom.

Currently, I'm having what I would call a "Mid-Life Experience." Although at times it does feel like a "crisis," it also has qualities that feel like a hopeful "transformation."

Many of my recent posts have touched on this transformation: Have To vs Want To, Survival Tactics - Peeling Away the Layers, Letting Go and the Passages of our Lives.

Much of my adulthood I struggled with my abuse recovery. When I finally reached the point that my abuse no longer felt present, I rejoiced. I am grateful that I no longer have nightmares, suffer from dissociation, PTSD, or feel "triggered," by old memories.

Now that I am free from the pain of childhood "events," I am experiencing the disappointment of mourning the residual effects of recovery: Recovery has many layers. Just as I finished mourning the loss of my childhood, I find that I'm doing major grief work over the loss of much of my adulthood.

I'm mourning all of the time lost performing necessary recovery work. I'm mourning:
  • That I started out ill equipped to navigate as an adult
  • That I was dealing with recovery while so many of my peers were enjoying life
  • All of the years I was trying to figure out what constitutes a healthy relationship
  • All of the years I spent trying to learn boundaries, self-parenting, how to respond to betrayal, etc.
  • All of the years I hadn't yet healed enough to safe-guard my own well-being
  • That I modeled poor relationship skills to my children
  • That I wasn't able to provide my children an "intact" family
  • All of the years that I let "computer girl" rule my life and overachieve
Mourning doesn't mean that I'm beating myself up. On the contrary, I take pride in the staggering amount of work I have performed. But rather, I'm grieving for the necessary losses I've incurred.

For me, major grief work has always signaled a new era. For example, I'm mourning all of the time I "overachieved," because I now feel "enlightened" by no longer overachieving. I'm grieving all of the years I lost by working too much. If I was still willing to "overachieve" my psyche wouldn't be ready to mourn. Likewise, if I still had boundary issues, I'd still be spending my time trying to learn to exercise clear, respectful boundaries. Now that I do exercise boundaries, I'm mourning all of the years I allowed myself to get hurt by not safe-guarding my own well-being, etc. All of these changes felt very empowering at first, but now I'm mourning all of the time I lost before I learned the skills I have now.

Past experience tells me that honoring the depth of my pain opens the door to new possibilities.

Hence - "Mid-Life Transformation" - mourning the old and moving on to the new.