Part of the healing process is realizing and accepting that you were never at fault, some people are just shitty people. I could finally admit that I was the victim, and know that was ok. Hurt people hurt people, it’s as simple as that, and often it’s the ones closest to them. When I really learned this, I found it easier to forgive those that have hurt me. I struggled with that for a long time, but the fact is forgiveness is something you ultimately give yourself. You aren’t excusing their behavior or saying it’s ok, because it’s not. What you are doing is looking back at the situation from a different perspective, one that stems from compassion. By understanding the back story of someone else and asking yourself things like “What could have happened to this person, maybe as a young kid, that would cause them to act in such a way and treat others so bad?” or “What kind of buried emotions could this person be trying to cover up, compensate for, or make them feel so insecure and untrusting?” for example. With a clearer understanding of the perpetrators perspective, we can begin to release and let go of any residual anger, bitterness, hurt, shame, etc., but the longer you hold onto it, the more it will torment you. Do you think whoever did you wrong is wallowing around, bitter and resentful letting those dark feelings run their life? Through forgiveness, you are freeing yourself, and your soul deserves peace and a fresh start.
In some circumstances, like sexual assault or abuse, giving yourself permission to not to forgive the perpetrator can be equally as freeing and liberating, but remember to forgive yourself. Remember the lessons, but also know that there are good people in the world. Don’t let the memories taint your future happiness.
The most important part of it, is forgiving yourself, which may be the hardest part for some people. I would constantly obsess and reminisce about what I could’ve, should’ve done; how if I wouldn’t have tried so hard or how I should have left or not have gone back… things would be different. Well, that’s a big stinking pile of bullshit! You wanna know why? Because you can’t change people and you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. No matter what you do or don’t do, the outcome is the same, because they were still the same person deep down. When you realize you did the best you could in that situation, given what you knew and who you were at that time, you can finally be free!
There is a time and a place for the victim mindset. There is also a time to let it go and shift your mindset from victim to survivor, to warrior, to badass! It definitely takes time; you may not be there yet, and that’s ok. Everyone is on their own path. It’s pointless to compare yourself to someone several steps ahead of you or beat yourself up because you should be _______, fill in the blank. Be gentle with yourself. Take the time to process your emotions, grieve and heal. Find a creative outlet, bonus points if you can express how you feel, find your voice, and finally feel heard.
You may find you need to take time to get to know yourself again. If you’ve been in an abusive relationship, then you might have already known what I was talking about in this post. Not all abuse is physical; some of the most damaging abuse is emotional, mental and sexual. It can stay with you for years afterwards. It left me feeling weak, powerless, rejected, replaced, insecure, alone and alienated, and empty. I was like a depressed, blind lost puppy with two broken legs searching for a home I had lost, searching for anything to fill the void. I hated myself. Not long after the abusive narcissist cheated on me and dumped me for a naive, young girl, who happened to have the exact same name as me (wtf?!!), and kicked me out, I turned to anything to numb the pain or distract me. I found myself in bars every night, trying to move on, trying to make new friends, and find myself again, as well as numb the pain and my nervous system and distract myself, often with casual dates. I did this for a few months before I felt the need to just gtfo (get the f*** out) and get as far away from him as I could. I landed a great consulting job in Georgia and left Tennessee, which felt good, it felt like I could move on and start over, at least that was the hope….to be continued…
If you are anything like me, you might find opening up, especially when it leaves you feeling vulnerable, particularly difficult, maybe even impossible. Well, I’ve been trying this new thing: understanding what my fears are (try writing them down!) and why you are afraid of certain things; what uncomfortable feelings are you trying to avoid? Then I started taking steps to face my fears. Something I’ve always been scared of is singing in front of others, because I felt incredibly vulnerable and I would connect with deep, intense emotions, which was also terrifying. I’ve realized just how brave people are that do this in front of others, so I decided to try karaoke! And I’ll be honest, the first song was scary. My hands were trembling and I completely froze. Luckily my roommate with there and he jumped in, and it didn’t seem as scary anymore. He reminded me people do karaoke for shits and giggles mostly, and to have a good time. You don’t have to be good, in fact, most people are terrible, which is why a lot of people go to watch. People are strange like that. After I finished the song, I was so proud of myself for finally just doing it, and that was the best feeling. So, I did another song and then another, and it kept getting easier. Don’t be afraid of your fears and don’t live your whole life in your comfort zone, otherwise, you’ll never know what you could’ve achieved. Don’t let someone else’s darkness dim your beautiful light. Shine on!
Peace and Love,
Butterfly photo credit: Laura Booth (myself)
Photo credit: Delano Maloney Designs