The healing process after abuse is a fucking beast.
And the journey of recovery can sometimes be harder than living with the abuse itself. Of course, it’s also the most worthwhile, but when a victim-turned-survivor first begins the process of healing, this is hardly a truth they can comprehend.
I should know. It took me until my late forties to come full circle and heal after spending the majority of my adult life in marriages to abusive men, the second of whom was a clinically diagnosed narcissist.
You would think I would have learned my lesson after falling in and out of love with my first husband, a man who replaced my father as the breaker of my heart time and time again. You would think I would have learned after being gaslighted, lied to, ignored, and disrespected for an entire decade in my twenties.
And you would think that the last thing I would do once I escaped abusive husband number one was to dive headfirst into abusive marriage number two before the ink on the divorce papers had even dried.
But logic was no match for my inability and straight-up fear of entering a healing process that demanded I take a step back and reflect on my situation. To see the truth for what it was.
At the time, I was simply too afraid. Thus, it would take nearly another two decades before something inside of me snapped, like a switch that had been turned on when I finally knew I’d had enough of the pain and was ready to face the scary opportunity presenting itself before me.
Oh the irony in how the healing process after abuse can be more frightening than the abuse itself.
Yet it is, sometimes painfully so, which explains why so many are unable to follow it through to the other side (I won’t say “end” because we are always to some degree healing after trauma). This is why so many will either return to what hurt them in the first place or fall into similar relationships in the future. It is why we avoid digging into our deeper selves, why we remain asleep to the larger goings-on in our lives, why we avoid putting the pieces of the puzzle together to view the bigger picture.
As much as I would love to go to a yoga retreat and return a changed-woman, self-growth and healing is a long process. In truth, it is a continuous and life-long journey but I do think there is a shorter milestone of feeling better. But that milestone of feeling the harrowing work paid off is still a long time.
I’ve been trying to earnestly improve myself for about a year and I’m just now starting to see and feel the results of my hard work. I can feel how my thinking has evolved and I can see how my actions differ from a year ago me. But even those changes are still relatively small. The changes aren’t as consistent, it’s more like I’m seeing glimpses of the version of myself I’m trying to create.
I have to remind myself self-healing and growth isn’t an easy or quick journey. At the same time, I have to be brutally honest with myself and ask questions like, “are you actually putting in as much effort as you think you are? Could there be more progress if you were more dedicated?”
But regardless, healing and awakening is not a weekend ordeal. Building a better version of yourself takes effort, time, and dedication. If you expect a quick turnaround for such a difficult task, you will be disappointed.