Friday, January 23, 2009

Why are you putting yourself through this?

This question always comes up on the first night of group... "Why should I put myself through this?" The answer is that we cannot recover from something that we don't acknowledge. And even when we choose to stuff the feelings rather than deal with them, we are still suffering. And stuffing forever would mean suffering forever. Dealing with the issues head-on gives us a chance to get past it and live a life free from constant suffering.

But the question that I went to sleep thinking about was, "Are you happy?" I answered "ecstatic", but it is so much more than just a jumping-up-and-down, surprise-party kind of happiness. My healing began as my courtship with my husband began, so I really cannot separate my recovery from my relationship with him. Our relationship was the first place I could see my recovery playing out. He was the first person I took the masks off for. The first person I told the WHOLE truth to. I didn't just share the facts with him. I shared with him my feelings, my deepest secrets, my pain, my grief, the truth about what I did to cope and fill the voids.

Early in our relationship I just took the trusting plunge. I didn't hide from him. And telling him the truth and sharing with him the real me was freeing. I told him about the things that had hurt me, and I told him about the things I did to cope and what I knew needed to change in order for me to move beyond the past. He accepted me and I began to feel a deep happiness for the first time in my life. Our relationship was warm, comforting and safe - not just giddy.

This is not to say that we didn't have our fair share of problems. I was discovering how to be in a healthy relationship with a man, but I still didn't know how to be a part of a family or how to be a friend to other women. Because of that, I was still pretty isolated and had periods of profound sadness over the lack of "family" (parents & siblings). I was very happy with my husband (we'd gotten married) but didn't allow anyone else to know me.

Not long into our marriage, we had our first child on the way. I quit my job and became a stay-at-home mom. Since the only adult in my life was my husband, I spent most of my time with a drooling baby. After almost a year of this, I was getting cagey and wanting to meet other moms. I was terrified of being rejected, but I wanted someone to meet at the park for a playdate. We didn't even have to be friends! I just wanted to talk to someone who could talk back and wouldn't spit up on me. I decided that my next door neighbor was a good candidate. She lived close, our kids were the same age, and she seemed nice enough. In time, I decided that maybe she was good "friend" material, so I allowed her to get to know me. I told her small things at first and when she didn't laugh or throw me out of her house, I'd share more. She became my treasured friend - the first girl who I could ever really be real with. Her friendship led me out of my isolation and into many more friendships with women. A huge cirlce of friends, in fact. I was very happy with just my husband and son, but with my first girl-friendship came a happiness that I'd never even dreamed existed and seemed almost like too much to ask for.

At the same time this first girl-friendship was blooming, my husband and I joined the church that we'd been visiting for months. I came to know God in a way that I'd never known him before. He was no longer just God, up there in the sky, invisible... He was now Father God. That in itself was a heart-filler for me. My husband, my son and my new friend were more happiness than I'd ever known, but getting to know God filled my heart to over-flowing.

Taking the risk to face the reality of how my abuse was impacting my life led to a healthy relationship with a man, then marriage, children, friendships, and God. The hardest thing for me to learn was to trust family again - not my birth family, but the in-laws. And once I started dipping my toes into that water, I discovered that I actually do have a family.

Am I happy? YES - my cup runneth over!


Anonymous said...

So that whole thing of "Why am I putting myself through this?" really sunk in last night when I got home. I know I need to go there in my recovery process, but it honestly sucks!

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons we NEED to go through this is of course for our own healing, but as a victim, many times the anger and hurt are forced upon those we love the most, because they are the only ones we can trust not to leave us, no matter how bad the anger and hurt affect them. Do this for them, so that they don't become victims, too.

Leigh Hall said...

You are both right. The recovery process definitely can suck. It will be hard, but it is so worth it in the end.

As for our loved ones that we hurt out of our hurt and anger - so true. There are many things I would do differently if given the chance, but we can never take our words or actions back. It's not hard to understand how 1/3 of abuse victims end up criminally abusing others. Makes me wonder how many of us have verbally or emotionally abused someone out of our own brokenness.

I used to think that I could live with my unresolved baggage, but I couldn't. For me, it wasn't possible to be a good wife and mother when I was so angry and hurt.

Keep your loved ones in mind when you think about giving up. Don't your kids deserve a healthy mother or father? Doesn't your spouse deserve a whole you? You all deserve a whole you, and that is exactly what God intended.

Hang in there, friends. I am praying for you.