Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Growing bones; The List

Because of conversations I have had with family and friends about this topic, and recently I read a blog comment discussing it; I thought I would write about it. It is a good item to add to the list.

     The topic is methods of healing from childhood abuse. I have found that abusers, those that defend them and sometimes even the victims themselves operate from this perspective: It happened in the past- move on. Sometimes childhood abuse experiences also get diminished "Others had it worse, mine wasn't that bad". When the abuser themselves use this argument of "get over it already" or " I didn't hurt you that bad" the general motivation is to diminish, shame and squash the victims impulses to make the abuser accountable, it can keep the victim in their place and help the abuser stay out of trouble. Now coming from interested parties and those that might defend the abuser, it comes from a place not wanting to deal with the harsh reality of the abuse, and that a person they care for might be the abuser. Victims turn to this mode of thinking for a few reasons, because it can help them survive bad situations, keep them from getting in trouble with the abuser for telling, and also keep their family/friends comfortable, not rocking the boat so to speak. The last reason a victim might choose to think this way is to protect themselves inwardly. 

     Healing from abuse is a process and it can often times be painful to acknowledge what happened, and all the feelings that go with it. It can require some deep and painful digging into oneself, and be the epitome of a long dark scary hallway. We are afraid of what we might find down there, and rightfully so. Abuse creates lot's of complexities we have to sort through. Sometimes we can't handle any of this, or we are not in a safe enough place to begin our healing. Sometimes a victim is not even conscious of the abuse, it has been stowed away for safe keeping in an effort to survive. This survival mechanism can protect us from memories we cannot handle. It can be a combination of unconscious things and conscious things and the victim/survivor very flatly decides that the things in the past are done and over with and they want to move on. It ranges from a sort of denial to flat out denial (this excludes survivors who have blacked out everything).

     So denial is never good. Long term affects of denial do manifest in our health and well being, so it is not optimal to stay permanently in a state of avoidance. However the healing process can look very different for each person. One may have a stop and start flow, dealing with some aspects now and then picking it up again after a few years. Another might have their "aha" moment and start and take a more slow steady road. The Courage To Heal addresses this subject, and has similar remarks about timing and how we go about our healing. What matters is what works for you, and being conscious of how the abuse has affected your life.  Deciding to heal from abuse is a choice, look at your life and ask yourself the Dr. Phil question "How's that working out for you?". If you feel that you are fine in the current moment, okay. As long as you are going in the direction you want to go in, and are happy then continue with what you are doing. If that question sparks more questions then maybe it is time to re-evaluate. Even then you might only change a few things.

     I think it is our natural knee jerk reaction at times to avoid the healing process, which is often just as much a growth process. I was reminded the other day about a quote I had heard while in college, it was something to do with growing bones. What a painful thing that would be! I think though it really encompasses healing from abuse very well. 

Our healing is like growing bones, sometimes very painful, awkward and bizarre. Why would anyone decide to go through something like that?

Because the alternative is not having any bones.

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