Image credit [here]
Well, I guess I spilled all over emotionally during my last post. I’ve since had the realization that should the Ex do that again--call me up to berate me about something I have no control over, just hold the phone away from my ear and remember it’s just noise. He can’t hurt me like he used to. That part of my life is over. In our coparenting counselor’s words: he may blur the boundaries, and you have to set them. (and also) you always have to be the wrong one.
Gee, thanks. I kind of knew that already. But at least I have some validation. I wonder why validation is so important? I think it’s that part of ourselves—especially those of us who’ve journeyed the path of bullying and abuse--that wants to be believed. Needs to be believed.
I recently joined a group of survivors online. The focus is not so much concentrating on the pain that we’ve survived, but to embrace the new lives that we’re all building. I happened to be on the page, and someone posted the unbelievable pain and heartbreak of abuse they experienced at the hands of their adoptive parents—horrible acts from the father, and the mother didn’t believe her and would beat her. The hospital workers turned a blind eye. As soon as she could get out at 18, she did. She was angry—angry at her parents for enacting the abuse, angry at the hospital workers for believing the cock and bull stories her parents came up with, angry at the world that didn’t save her. Didn’t believe her. And this was the first time she’s ever told anyone about it.
I immediately started writing—I believe you.
But the comment wouldn’t take…in just one minute, she took it down. So I wrote a separate post—Dear J, I believe you. What they did was horrible. You did nothing wrong. You did nothing to deserve their actions. What your parents did, and everyone who colluded with them, are horrible. I believe you.
Later, she came back on—she said thank you—and that she’d had a panic attack and removed the post. And I wrote back that I understood, healing is a journey, everyone takes their own time, and I thought she was brave to even contemplate sharing her story. But no matter what, she was believed.
Those are really strong words to say to a survivor: I believe you.
Yes, we are building new lives. She is raising her kids, has traveled the world. I have remarried to an honest, kind, loving, hard working hubby who loves and respects me, and loves and adores his stepdaughters as any parent would. I’ve come a long way in trusting that peace and love are not some weird skin that needs to be peeled off.
Because people like her and people like me, we’ve learned that pain is normal. Our houses have burned down and we’ve had to rebuild from the ashes countless times. Because of being in situations that were untenable, the cost and pain of surviving pain—THAT was normal.
Happiness and peace? Alien concepts. Something I believed in—lofty words that I reach for, because I know they matter, but never quite learned how to make them real. How to make them stick. So lately I’ve been working on letting happiness, peace, love win. And not just theoretically, but holding it, embracing it, so it doesn’t feel like some alien has entered in my house. Somehow, I have to figure out how to live in a place where normal is kindness, normal is patience, normal is forgiving. It really is a new life I’m building.