Musings on Love, Trust and Family
From a Survivor of Abuse
There are so many triggers in this world to remind some of us of what has always appeared to be out of reach for us. And I don’t mean “just out of reach.” I mean not even “in the ballpark” kind of out of reach.
Because all of those who should have loved and protected me as a child raped, shared and demeaned me. My sense of self-worth was below zero when I went out into the world at 19 years old. I didn’t know anything about all that trauma and only discovered it when I was 31 years old.
Since then it has been many intensive years of grueling healing work, facing things I didn’t want to but felt I had no choice if I intended to stay alive. Each type of childhood trauma leaves a predictable set of wounds and handicaps, many of which show up most clearly and painfully in the arena of romantic love.
How can you possibly attract a good, kind man (or woman), if your most deeply imprinted experiences with them were of abuse, attack and betrayal? I will admit it is difficult, but certainly not impossible. Not that I have ever been married or had children. I didn’t actually want those things and now I see that mostly that perspective was due to my painful associations with them from childhood.
Flash forward a few decades. I see happy nuclear families sharing holidays and special events together. Celebrating, supporting and loving one another. And to those who would say that not all of those families are as happy as they seem, I get it, believe me. But there is no denying that there actually are some happy families out there. I was just never part of one! Hehe. And there’s the rub as they say. It can be hard to go through holidays, graduations, birthdays, etc. and have no set, core group that you share it all with. I have created my own Soul Family, it is true, but I have to say that there is a distinct difference that the similarity of verbiage does not convey. Over the years my Soul Family will change. Some friends drift in different directions and the dynamic changes or even disappears.
It seems that abuse is the “gift that keeps on giving”- heavy sarcasm there in case you missed that! Having children and grandchildren is no longer a physical possibility unless I marry into it. And there is the other side of that thorn. A happy, healthy, loving partner is very possible but it just requires a lot more work if you grew up with trauma and with it’s often ensuing PTSD and dissociation. Not impossible to be sure, but it requires a lot more effort and time spent healing oneself.
This is not meant to be a pity party for me or any of us trauma survivors! Not at all! So here’s “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey used to say. Who I have become because of my abuse history is someone of tremendous light, strength, wisdom and compassion. I am in love with who I have become. I have been pushed to the limits and discovered that I could jump off that cliff and fly. And the truth is, I don’t need a partner or children to be happy or to have love in my life. It’s just different! So I want to normalize the usual life stages for those that don’t fit that mold. In truth, probably most people feel that way, but I know my peeps really get what I’m saying!
I don’t wear my abuse history as a badge of some sort of identity any more. It is a part of my past that has helped to shape my soul and my life and those two things are immeasurably beautiful. All souls are beautiful. Even my abusers- although on some days I don’t really mean that, mostly I am grateful to those who played their roles so that I could fulfill my mission. I have realized that although I was victimized, I was never truly a victim. Because I chose to grow from it. Yes it’s been a painful journey, but how can I express how worthwhile and rewarding it is too?! Abuse survivors recognize and understand one another just as Veterans do. It’s a unique energy imprint. We recognize the spiritual warrior in one another.
So today I invite us all, regardless of our backgrounds, to accept, embrace and celebrate the life we have led and are living now. Life can be messy. There’s nothing wrong with that. I am imperfect. There’s nothing wrong with that either. I am a woman who never had children or got married and who is currently single. Nothing wrong. That is my mantra. I invite you to join me in dropping the “shoulds” and expectations that only lead to self- judgement and dissatisfaction. What images or institutions have you bought into that make you feel like an outsider or “less than”? There’s a doorway to freedom here What in your life can you accept now that you have been in a state of judgment or discontent about? I’d love to hear!