I can say from my own experience, that with time and a nurturing system of safe and supportive people I jump a lot less. I panic maybe once a year. I get triggers but they don’t cripple me like they used to.
Boundaries are essential while we recover from abuse of any kind. Once I began recovering, after finding a safe place to live and some of my basic necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing were met. I began to see my own part in things (that I had no boundaries) and I was able to heal even further. And not only that but my boundaries have broken the cycle of abuse.
I spent so long as victim; rightly so. I needed to do that to address the grief that abuse brought me. I needed to untangle the web that narcissistic physical and emotional abuse had done to my mind and body. I needed therapy to help my unravel the mess my abuser left behind.
I was not evil, damaged, broken, useless, fragile, pathetic, to blame for everything, or better off dead. I was none of those things. I was wounded and traumatized to be sure, but I was not any of the things my abuser accused me of. I was not fragile, I was sensitive. It is my sensitivity that brings my kindness to relationships. It is my kindness that supports myself and others like me. But it was also my lack of boundaries and too much kindness that kept me in the cycle of abuse that I learned in childhood.
After a lot of time spent healing and a lot of loving support while I journeyed as Persephone into the underworld of my own psyche, I see now how my own natural empathy (too much of it) furthered the cycle of abuse. I was taught as a child to have no boundaries because I was not respected by my Mother, but abused. I was taught I was to blame early. I was taught that violence sometimes comes with love. I learned early that my life meant less than my abusers, both at school at and home. I learned too young that my pain would go unaddressed and asking for help meant there would be more pain. And not only that, but that I would be punished for having needs and for asking for help.
So, naturally it was easy for me to fall into the same cycle of abuse that I was taught at a young age. Obviously I would carry that pain and trauma with me into my love relationships as an adult. But I had also had enough of a life time of wounding and trauma. I had suffered so much violence that I gave myself a choice. I could make it make me hard, bitter, angry, and isolated as it did to my Mother and her Mother. Or I could choose a different path. I could choose to start to learn how to untangle what I had inherited. I could choose to learn how to love myself. I could choose me over them.
I began to learn about boundaries. I began to learn about what healthy love looked like. And I began to untangle the web of purgatory and abuse that I was locked in as “victim.” I learned to move from Victim mindset to Survivor. And now I am beginning to learn how to move even further into a Thriver Mindset.
I am sharing this because I want all you survivors out there to know that it is possible to recover. There will always be scars. And we will always remember what happened and we will be changed from that experience. It does takes painstaking work, support, and lessons learned over time to heal. You can recover from the pain and live a meaningful life once again. But you must find safety first. You must learn about boundaries. You must not allow one more person to abuse you. And you must not abuse yourself. These don’t happen over night. There was a time that I firmly believed I would never know love. There was a time I believed the words of my abuser. That time has come and gone.
I love myself. I protect myself. I forgive myself. And I love all of you, no matter where you are on your journey. I understand. I see you. You are not alone.
-Angel Marie Russell