Today I almost cried while staring at my laptop screen in the local coffee shop. Someone had sent me the link to an article in the Huffington Post that “would be interesting for the Swan project you work on”. I read, and read, and read; momentarily breaking in half.
Katie Naum portrays a hauntingly familiar story in her article “Motherless by Choice”. Although the details vary, the feelings she describes resonate deafeningly clear. My fellow Founding Swan* commented: “I could have written that. That is my story!” It brought home to us, once again, how frighteningly similar the experiences of abuse survivors are, even when the details and context vary.
The feeling of desperation; loss, pain, and the many times we’ve had to deal with judgements about our choice to limit or cut contact with our personal torturers. The feeling that during our time with them there were also good days. The feeling that there are no visible scars so surely what they did to us couldn’t have have been that bad. Remember that lovely trip? The piano lessons we got? The beautiful ring and necklace? Of course we do. But do we also remember that those experiences and gifts came with strings that were attached?
Other Feelings We Share
But what we’ve been through doesn’t have to end at what happened to us. There are happier emotions to be experienced as we rebuild our lives. Like the feeling of achievement when we prove our abusers wrong. The feeling of validation when we hear we’re not alone. The feeling of connection when we make new friends and create our own Family of Choice; our own support network of people we can talk to for advice, or just a shoulder to cry on when we’re struggling. And of course for celebrating our successes achievements or milestones.
Sharing the Journey
The journey through the Black Swan Swamp and to the Swan Lake, a.k.a. the healing journey, is what truly binds us. Having the realization that what we thought was common sense was actually lies is freeing. Understanding that what our abusers pointed out as problematic personality traits in us are, in fact, a great big bundle of talent and exceptional skill. This is when what we share transforms from healing to thriving.
So thanks Katie Naum for putting into words our shared story. You are a brave and exceptional Swan!
* We sometimes refer to survivors as Swans, in reference to the story of The Ugly Duckling.