First, I had a great time with my friend. It’s good to have people with whom we can be ourselves and know they will accept and love us—even if we’re not perfect.
Second, I want to talk about why I write this blog. I write it, I think, out of anger. Anger that when I began my healing journey all I could seem to find were experts who said we can never get over being abused. They certainly didn’t offer a roadmap to how one could.
I hated that. I was angry that it seemed as if the professionals were giving up on us. I wouldn’t accept that I was going to have to live the rest of my life scared, hating myself, desperately unhappy, filled with shame and guilt and believing I didn’t deserve to live.
I swore that somehow I was going to find a way to heal—and that if I did, I would do whatever I could to give hope to other survivors. I swore I would share the things that worked for me.
I’m glad I didn’t know then how hard it would be or how long it would take. I’m glad I didn’t believe the experts who seemed to be saying it couldn’t be done.
I know the power of expectations, you see. I’ve read the studies. I’ve seen it firsthand in the lives of people I knew. And it makes me angry when I read any expert say we have to live with the pain forever and we can never get over it!
Will we get to a point where we’re perfectly happy? Probably not—but no one does—no matter what their background might be. What we can do—the hope I try to share—is that we can create a life in which we are happy, where we can believe in ourselves, where we know that we have within us the strength and courage to grow and heal and become the people we want to be. That’s more than many so-called “normal” people ever achieve.
And so I created a kind of manifesto in my own mind for us survivors:
We deserve to be treated with respect.
We deserve to be allowed to have hope.
We deserve counselors who will whole heartedly work to help us reach a point where we believe in ourselves and in happiness.
We deserve to be full partners in any treatment program we undertake.
All parts of ourselves deserved to be loved and accepted and helped to be happy. No part of ourselves should have to carry a burden alone.
We deserve to be treated with kindness as well as respect.
We deserve all these things from OURSELVES as well as from others. And sometimes that’s the hardest part—to treat ourselves with kindness and respect. Sometimes it’s hard for us to let ourselves believe in our right to be happy—or that we can create the lives we want to have. But that’s the goal.
So if I sometimes seem naïve in my optimism, I’m not. I just fiercely want other survivors to know it IS possible to heal. I want to offer the hope that wasn’t there when I began my healing journey. And I want to help provide the roadmap I so dearly wished I’d had when I began.
Sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),