“I am no longer in the abusive relationship… But I am imprisoned by my fear, incarcerated by my shame. How did I become “that woman?” Why do I still want to be with him? That is so sick. I hate myself for still loving him. I shouldn’t still love him. I shouldn’t want him every second of every day. I shouldn’t be missing him. What is wrong with me? He hurt me. He made me believe I was stupid and worthless. He told me no one would ever want me. And look at me now. He is right. Who would want this hot mess? I am unlovable. He taught me I was unlovable and yet… I miss him. He played games with my mind. Made me think things were my fault. He manipulated and controlled. And yet…”
It was 4:15 in the morning. And those were the thoughts running through my head. I had sobbed. I sobbed until my face was so full of snot that I could no longer breathe out of my nose. I had to breathe out of my mouth and my lips were chapped and it hurt. I cried until my heartbeat was in my head. I was weeping with everything I had in me. I was weeping because I couldn’t seem to stop my mind from replaying over and over what he had done to me. I was weeping because I missed him. I was weeping because I missed myself.
Once I gave everything over to my grief and the tears quieted down I began breathing. Three deep counts in. Four slow counts out. Repeated until I could think a little more clearly. Then I reached out to a friend who softly reassured me that everything would one day be okay again. And four hours later I was sitting in my therapist’s office for our weekly session.
He-who-must-not-be-named used to be the field. When we were together I never knew what would set him off. One wrong move. One false step. But that is the thing about mine fields. You don’t know where they are hidden. So every step is the same. Every blow damaging. We are no longer together so I don’t have to walk his field. But now a field lives in me.
“I was strong enough to leave the relationship which means I am strong enough to heal from it’s residue.” That is part of my “911 Meditation” that I call upon when I feel fragile. “I am more than the debris the abuse has left in my life.” And when I feel broken I reach out to my war council, to the people who I can trust with my story, because I cannot trust brokenness. My war council speaks truth to me when I cannot speak it to myself. I write. I run. I listen to only music that lifts me. I breathe in and I breathe out. I pray to Him and all that is higher than me. I give myself permission to grieve and to feel my emotions. And it hurts. And I am healing. And my healing hurts.
One of the biggest helps is receiving help. Professional help from my therapist has been invaluable. He is helping me rebuild the roads and walls and the beautiful cities inside myself that my abuser attacked, destroyed, dismantled and then reconstructed for his own benefit. Another huge help has been educating myself in order to experience forgiveness. Beautiful healing has taken place as I have allowed myself to forgive myself for becoming “that woman,” for allowing someone to treat me so poorly and for allowing myself to love him anyway. For allowing myself to forgive God for letting me be in this situation, for not stopping my abuser or changing him. And allowing myself to forgive my abuser. To recognize his illness and to pray for him and for his personal healing.
My healing is not complete. I do not know when it will be. I understand that healing takes time and takes commitment. Every day I choose to believe that healing is possible. I choose to believe I am worth it. I choose to believe that I am loveable. That someday someone will love me with the kind of love I deserve and with a healthy kind of love. And I will be able to give that love back because I am healing…