There are so very many truths about healing from abuse, and on this site we talk about lots of them. There are a few insights that I have gained over time that I want to give you here; some of the big truths that really had a positive impact on my journey. They are the truths that pull you through the dark days. The ones that keep you going when you run out of steam.
Everyone Is Learning, Growing, and ‘Winging It’
There is a quote by Ricky Gervais that I absolutely love:
“The best advice I’ve ever received is, ‘No one else knows what they’re doing either.”
As survivors of abuse, we often believe that there is something inherently wrong with us. We go in healing and self-improvement overdrive sometimes, and we think there is no end to the journey. Of course there isn’t! Every person in the world is on a journey of learning, discovery, self-improvement, and growth (except, of course, the narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths—they don’t do that personal growth stuff).
Recovering from abuse is only PART of our journey, but it is not our ENTIRE journey.
Everybody Has Bad Days And That Is Totally OK
I don’t know about you, but when I have a bad day I can really beat myself up over it, “Why are you letting those people into your head? Why can you not pick yourself up? You are such a failure!” Yeah, those thoughts can get out of control pretty quickly.
It took me quite a while to realize that everybody has a bad day, occasionally. And that says absolutely zero about you. Maybe you are tired, perhaps you are feeling a little under the weather, or the third consecutive day of torrential rain is finally getting to you. Whatever the reason (or, perhaps, there isn’t even a reason) you are allowed to have bad days.
In fact, I ask you to consider the following:
“No one really has a bad life. Not even a bad day. Just bad moments”.
A bad day, is very rarely only bad. Maybe your health is poor, but your neighbor came by with a bowl of soup. Or maybe you are hearing your abuser’s voice in your head, but your enjoyed a walk in the sunshine. Bad moments happen, and even a string of consecutive bad moments in one day. But that does not mean you are failing at life, at healing, or that something is fundamentally wrong with you. All it ever means is that you try again tomorrow.
No, I Cannot Explain The Crazies Either
If your head is anything like mine, it will be full of questions starting with “why?”
“Why did they do this? Why me? Why would any sane person treat someone else like this?” Well, that’s it. These are not sane people. A healthy brain cannot bend the way the toxic brain can so you will never be able to understand it. You may be able to explain it rationally, but you will never understand it experientially. Here is my personal moto:
“I cannot understand how anyone could abuse another, and I think that speaks in my favor”
Be happy and proud that you managed to hang on to your humanity even while you were targeted by a toxic person. Not everyone can pull that off! So put your inability to explain your abuser’s behavior in the wins column, and start focusing on your healing again.
Healing Is About Self, But Not Selfish
While on your healing journey, you need to focus on yourself. You need to look after yourself, you need to protect yourself, and you need to shield yourself. As targets of abuse, we were taught that any consideration of our own needs was egocentric, unnecessary, and bad. That is quite stubborn programming, and we likely feel like we are being selfish when we focus on ourselves.
Nothing is further from the truth. When a friend has the flu, we make sure they have plenty of fluids, we fluff up their pillows, make chicken soup, bring out extra blankets, run them a bath, or pick up some cold meds from the pharmacy. You need to take care of yourself in the same way. Just because your injury is not outwardly physical like the flu, does not mean you deserve or need any less care.
“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”
Setting boundaries, limiting or even cutting contact with your abuser, indulging in beautiful bath salts, or taking long walks in nature are just some ways you can focus on yourself. That is not selfish, but essential.
Do not mistake focus on yourself to mean disregard for others. It is about choosing the right people to hang out with, the things you are realistically able to help with, etc. What it’s really about is simply learning to finally take your needs and wellbeing into consideration when you make choices about your life.