When I think back to the shit storm of a childhood I lived, the one word that I have always chanted to myself is “Rising Above”, as this is what kept my focus moving forward. I have always looked at life as way bigger than myself and or my abuse.
Recently, I started a podcast called “RAW”, Real Adult Wisdom. As a certified life coach, after years of studying, working with clients, and surviving my own abuse, I recently started a series on Trauma. I feel compelled to get my story out to help others.
I am a survivor, which at one point in my life, I absolutely despised those four words.
The journey to healing from my emotional, physical, and sexual abuse required me to revolutionize my thinking about relationships, self-love, self-respect, and self-compassion. I put in a lot of work, and a lot of therapy and I truly had to learn to forgive and love myself.
Abusive relationships often serve as the catalyst for incredible change and have the potential to motivate us towards empowerment and strength, should we take advantage of our new agency. One could choose to live in victim mode, one could choose to carry their trauma response behavior into adulthood, or one could choose to heal, realize there is this entire life ahead of you and become the person you are met to be. I chose the latter.
Sadly, in my life, I have dated those who have not done the work, and who have carried their past trauma into our relationship. And those that self-sabotage because they are too afraid to be vulenrable in case it fails. The way we survivors reacted as a child to protect ourselves is not how we can react as an adult. It takes time to learn your worth and vaule as a person and sometimes it is hard when those you date take advantage of who you are as a person. This goes for any walk in life. Work, friends, family all in which I have been blessed in those areas to always have the most positive support.
I spent my 20’s trying to figure out who I was, where I fit into this life, trying to feel good when I looked into the mirror, fighting against my sexuality, and yet trying to live this great life acting as if I lived in no pain when all I did was live in pain daily.
I truly started my healing journey in my mid-30s, although I am never perfect, I am well aware of when I need to put my work in. It took me years to like myself, my body, to realize someone could actually love me for all of me, however, I have not found that one person yet, I know she is out there and one day I will have this because I have worked hard to not only love someone with all of have (besides my kids) but for someone to love all of me for all of who I am.
I, like many, have lived a life of trial and error. I embraced therapy, I embraced reading and journaling, and I embraced a journey to heal and to always make sure I live the best life I can. I love my life coaching business because I have been able to help countless clients because of my past and I have lived it and survived it. I AM A SURVIVOR!
Here are 10 life-changing truths abuse survivors should embrace in their journey to healing, though it may appear challenging to do so.
1. It was not your fault. Abuse survivors are used to being blamed for not being good enough and the mistreatment they’ve suffered convinces them they are not enough. The truth is, the abuser is the person who is not enough. Only a dysfunctional person would deliberately harm another. You, on the other hand, are enough.
2. Your love cannot inspire the abuser to change. There was nothing you could have done differently to change the abuser. Repeat this to yourself. Nothing.
3. Healthy relationships are your birthright and you can achieve them. It is your right to have a healthy, safe, and respectful relationship. It is your right to be free from bodily harm and psychological abuse. It is your right to be able to express your emotions without ridicule, stonewalling or the threat of violence. It is your right not to walk on eggshells. It is your right to pursue people who are worthy of your time and energy. Never settle for less than someone who respects you and is considerate towards you.
4. There is still hope for a better life. Healing and recovery is a challenging process, but it is not an impossible one. The effects of trauma can be life-changing and undeniable, but a life after abuse is still possible. You may suffer for a long time from intrusive thoughts, flashbacks and other symptoms as a result of the abuse. You may even enter other unhealthy relationships or reenter the same one; this is not uncommon, as a large part of our behavior is driven by our subconscious and such behavior is often part of the trauma repetition cycle. Still, you are not “damaged goods.” You are not forever scarred, although there are scars that may still remain. You are a victim of abuse – you are also a healer, a warrior, a survivor. Read that last sentence again!
5. You don’t have to justify to anyone the reasons you didn’t leave right away. The fear, isolation and manipulation that the abuser imposed upon us is legitimate and valid. Studies have proven that trauma can produce changes in the brain. If we experienced or witnessed abuse or bullying in our childhood, we can be subconsciously programmed to reenact our early childhood wounding.
6. Forgiveness of the abuser is a personal choice, not a necessity. Some may tell you that you have to forgive the abuser to move on. Truly, that is a personal choice and not a necessity. You might feel forgiveness of the abuser is necessary in order to move forward, but that does not mean you have to.
7. Forgiveness towards yourself is necessary to move forward. Self-forgiveness is a different matter. Many survivors struggle with self-blame after the ending of an abusive relationship. As a child, you look back and wonder what you could do differently, but as a child, you should have been taken care of, not abused. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!
8. You are not the crazy one. During the abusive relationship, you were gaslighted into thinking that your perception of reality was false and told that you were the pathological one, that your version of events was untrue, that your feelings were invalid, that you were too sensitive when you reacted to his or her mistreatment of you.
9. You do deserve better. No matter what the abuser told you about yourself, there are people out there in healthy relationships. These people are cherished, respected and appreciated on a consistent basis.
10. It may have seemed this relationship was like a “waste of time” but in changing your perspective, it can also be an incredible learning experience. You now have the agency to create stronger boundaries and learn more about your values as a result of this experience. As a survivor, you’ve seen the dark side of humanity and what people are capable of. You’ve recognized the value of using your time wisely after you’ve exhausted it with someone unworthy.
As many of us continue our journey daily, know you are loved, you are admired and I am here for anyone still needing help with walking this healing journey. Being RAW has been hard for me, yet I feel a pull not as a life coach, but as a human to share my story. I want to empower survivors and I want you all to know there is this amazing, great life ahead. I am living it today and it is amazing, full of love, friends, and family who love unconditionally. I promise you the abuser is not living a full life.
I am here to help you with your journey. You can email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get started on your healing journey.
Becky Shaffer/ Author/ Educator/ Life Coach/ Fitness Coach/ Adolescent life Coach