Grieving is Surviving

Tonight was one of those nights where light bulbs were exploding in my head. A night that was filled with listening to others about their experiences, reflecting upon mine, and realizing yet once again..everything does in fact happen for a reason.

After coming home from a meeting where a handful of women share their experiences, dreams, hopes and steps towards healing from emotional abuse, I found myself repeating over and over something in my head I've said a thousand times before....to heal you need to grieve...to grieve you need to feel...to feel you need to be open for the ache...to do that is to love yourself, and know you are worthy of the time and energy involved.

Much like living, I believe surviving will be a lifelong process. There will always be situations or comments that will trigger a memory or thought no matter where I am in that process, but the true test will be how I digest it, and respect it when it happens.

It's one thing to announce to others that I am a survivor of child sexual assault, domestic violence, and spousal sexual assault and quite another for me to allow myself the respect and grieve the loss of all of what that means.

The first time I realized all of that was an extremely emotional period for me. It came after many nights of no sleep, days of not eating, and a feeling of dread every time I entered my home. For so long I had carried the shame that was not mine to own. In a way it provided a comfort, with it always there, I never had to grieve the loss I had suffered.

It was on that night that I realized that the "little girl" I had always felt was lost, was actually still in me...she always was, except I had spent my life ignoring her needs much like the abusers who clawed at her.

I was only a very young five year old child the first time I was molested by a neighbor. Right then and there is when that little girl became frozen in time. There were other men in my childhood who molested me after that. None of them knew the other, and none of them were blood relatives, the only thing they had in common was they were able to see me for the scared little girl I was, the lonely little girl that I am sure they knew would make a perfect victim.

Until recently I never cried tears for the real loss I suffered at their hands. I did cry for the shame I carried; their shame...but never did I grieve the loss of innocence too early until that one night when all of a sudden the tears and sobs poured out of me, and I realized that I was grieving the loss of my childhood.

Perhaps in a twisted way it was also because on that night I was unable to get my estranged husband's words out my head in which he unleashed on me that final assault, that last assault in which he physically, emotionally and sexually assaulted me with my two boys within 10 feet from us.

It was as he had me pinned on my bed, after he violently ripped my legs apart, and while his unrecognizable controlled face sneered at me that he said, "What's wrong? Bringing back childhood memories?"

That statement haunted me for well over a year, until that night...that night where I found myself grieving my childhood...lost years...lost innocence...shattered dreams...all of which over the years accumulated to fears and shame I held close to my heart.

It was then that I realized I needed to grieve not only the loss I suffered as a child, but also the one dream I held on to so tightly that I never realized the nightmare it actually was; my marriage. The one thing I thought I could control how it turned out. If I was the perfect wife, then I would have the perfect marriage, the perfect love. I put so much focus on that over the years that I never realized just how heavy and burdensome that shame I carried in me was....how could I have a good marriage...let alone a perfect one (if there is such a thing) if I didn't respect myself enough..didn't love myself enough to even grieve all that I had lost?? He knew it, obviously he did when he issued that statement to me. He knew I carried that shame because he knew those words would cut me like nothing else...not even the pain of him ripping my legs apart as he pinned me down hurt as bad as that statement.

Love should not hurt. Love should not punish. I needed to love myself...I needed to stop hurting myself with the burden of shame I carried....I needed to stop punishing myself for the actions of others. I needed to grieve the loss of the dream I never lived to begin with. I needed to comfort and console myself...I needed respect myself for all that I had been through, and most importantly I needed to realize I deserved so much more than I had allowed myself to receive.....yes, that night was the night I started my grieving process, and started loving myself.

So as I sat there tonight listening to women discovering this aspect of healing for themselves, I was reminded of the road I am still walking - grieving takes time. To survive something, first you must grieve whatever it was you lost.....to heal you need to grieve...to grieve you need to feel...to feel you need to be open for the ache...to do that is to love yourself, and know you are worthy of the time and energy involved.

Tonight I do not question that I am worth every minute of my own time, for my own healing...and most importantly to honor that little girl that spent many years lost within myself.


Comments

Maggie, Dammit said…
Thank you so much for posting the video, and for sharing your story.
Me said…
You are so very welcome! Thank you for all you are doing with your site at http://violenceunsilenced.com

One day the stigma and shame so many victims carry will be erased and placed where it belongs, and the cycles of abuse will begin to be shattered
Just Be Real said…
Dang, that does make sense. Grieving does mean surviving, and one day I will certainly be there! I appreciate you honesty and transparency. Thank you!

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