Choosing to Heal vs. Not

Today’s post on Sexual Abuse has brought up a lot of big feelings and a few people have shared that with me.

I was chatting with Endellion on Skype and she told me she was going to catch up on my posts because she hasn’t had time to read them in a few days.  A bit later, she asked if I could call because she thought she was going to puke because of today’s post.  I hadn’t even realized what post was scheduled to publish today so I didn’t know what triggered her.  I immediately called her and she was sobbing so hard, I couldn’t understand her.  I had to say, “Honey, take a deep breath.  I can’t understand what you are saying.”  She’d start talking again and I’d have to stop her again.  She was really shaken up.

As we talked we discussed how we’ve chosen to heal from the abuse that has been heaped on us.  You see, Endellion’s husband punched her in the face a year ago and she is in the process of divorcing him.  She’s just now starting to admit to herself that he raped her.  Today’s post made everything hit home for her.

As we talked, I told her it was a good thing that she was hurting and crying and talking.  I told her this was the nasty work of healing.  When we admit something, another aspect of the abuse that was done to us, it will hurt us.  We will feel pain.  What we choose to do with that pain is what not only defines who we are but also whether we can heal or not.

You see, Endellion and I have chosen to feel the pain.  To cry out to God and to each other.  To talk about it with each other and our counselors.  To feel the pain, to shed the tears, to process the hurt, and finally, to let it go.  Feeling the pain is the only way to release it.

We talked about why our husbands chose to hurt us.  They both admitted, at the beginning, that they abused us.  They both promised to get help.  Then they went back to their abusive ways.

Endellion’s soon-to-be-ex and Bubba have much in common.  Both of them were abused by their parents.  Both of them continued the abusive cycle by becoming abusers themselves.  Both of them were confronted on their abuse and both of them have chosen to continue in their ways instead of getting help and healing.

So what is the difference between what Endellion and I have chosen to do and what our exes have chosen to do?  Why do some people choose to heal while others choose not to?

I think it comes down to an ability to feel pain, acknowledge that pain, then work through it.  Endellion’s ex and Bubba are fundamentally broken somehow.  Endellion and I aren’t.

I wish I count put in to words how very much it HURTS to go through this.  The pain, at times, seemed unbearable.  When I started processing the sexual abuse, there were times that I thought I would be crushed under the weight of the pain.  But I kept going.  I kept pushing through the pain because I didn’t give myself the choice to not heal.  That is who I am.  I chose to fight for me.  I chose to not be a victim anymore.  I chose to let myself feel the pain because that is what needs to be done in order to heal.

I think of this way.  Let’s say you cut your arm badly.  You put a bandage on it and in a few days the skin has healed over.  Then you notice that you are running a fever, your arm hurts, and you see red streaks running up your arm.  You go to the ER and there the doctors tell you that your arm is actually infected.  On the surface, it looked like it was healing but underneath it was a hot bed of infection that was literally beginning to kill you.  The doctor must open up the healed top layer of skin and clean out all that infection.  That is going to HURT!!!!!  It is going to hurt worse than the initial cut.  It is going to continue to hurt because the infection caused so much more damage.  You know though, that if you ignore the infection, it will continue to eat away at healthy tissue until you lose your life.

Endellion and I understand that the pain we feel now, as we process our experiences, is like cutting out that infection.  We know it hurts.  We know it is hard to get all the ick out.  We know that healing will take time and it will continue to be painful until it just isn’t anymore.  We are willing to have that pain because we know that that is the way of healing.

Endellion’s ex and Bubba can only see the immediate pain.  They were both going to get help but then stopped.  They can’t see anything beyond the immediate pain when the doctor begins to cut the skin back open.  They’ve pulled their arms back and are refusing to have the infection cut out because they are unable to see past that pain.  They can’t comprehend that the crushing pain is a necessary part of the healing process.  In order to cope, they deny that there is a problem.  They shift blame and accept no responsibility because that let’s them ignore the pain.  They are choosing to live with their infection by deflecting all that pain away from themselves.  If they can convince themselves the problem is actually our fault, then they can continue to avoid the pain and ignore the infection.

Endellion and I are made of strong stuff.  We think that is a reason our exes hurt us so badly.  They could see the strength that we possessed and couldn’t live with the fact that we are strong where they are weak.  They had to put us down to build themselves up.

Now we are both free from their abuse.  We are healing and we are getting stronger every day.  We have chosen to feel the pain and work our way through it because we want to heal.  We also know that we have each other to hold onto when the pain gets to be too much.  Two weeks ago I was processing some stuff and she stayed on the phone with me and helped me through it.  She had enough strength for both of us that day.  Today, I did the same thing for her.

I pray for Bubba and for her ex.  They are dealing with a type of buried pain that I can’t even imagine.  I don’t understand how it feels to choose to walk away from health – to be that convinced of my own lies that I would rather continue in the way I was going instead of work hard to heal.  I pity them.  I pray that they someday find healing of their own – both for themselves and so that they will stop hurting those around them.

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8 Comments

  1. i used a broken bone analogy with the same thing you did just the other day. im leaving my daughters father(not the abuser i mentioned in my email) and i said something in me doesnt want to leave him.. its like a broken arm. when you did it it was so painful and then even tho its all crooked and messed up looking you need to go to the doctor to fix tit but youre scared… you know it will hurt and it wont be good at all with the pain and snapping but after it is done it will be sooo much better. maybe even better than before you even broke it. but here i sit in the doctors parking lot looking sadly at my broken arm scared of the doctors visit. me moving on is going to be the best thing thats happened to me. i have a great apartment im moving to and we will all have our own spaces and it wil be the nicest place ive ever lived in. and not nearly as stressful. i just hope when the time comes(waiting until election day so i can vote) that i wont feel so bad about it

    • The broken bone analogy works well too! The one thing I should stress is that the pain of rebreaking the bone or of excising the infection is that it is TEMPORARY. Keep in mind, though, that “temporary” is a relative term. Everyone heals at their own pace.

      Also, do you have a plan in place to leave safely? If not, I urge you to contact your local domestic violence agency so they can help you prepare.

      And it is normal to feel badly about leaving. We are trained to be the guardians of our abuser’s feelings. This is where practicing, “NOT MY PROBLEM!” comes in handy. Yes, it will probably be one of the hardest things you ever have to do. In the end, being free is so very worth it!

  2. i dont know if you remember my email i wrote to you. it was titled me. the man i talked about int he email is my exhusband. this is my daughters father. our relationship is like the maroon 5 song one more night. i know for a fact my ex husband was abusive he beat me up and left me with brain damage but this one is different. ive also known mt daughters father over half my life and im 30 years old. i know the pain will be temporary for me im just worried mostly about my daughter angelica. i stayed so long because of hr being attached but even at 5 she knows whats up sometimes better than me. how do you deal with knowing your kids dad is gone for good and they might not see him anymore? not only that that hes so horrible. i am just broken apart because angelica si just a statistic now and when i got with him it was like a dream.. four tornadoes hit my town springfield illinois in one night in 2006 and then he came thru and picked me up and saved me because i was in a poor part of town living on the streets BEFORE the tornadoes and now i got a kid with him. honestly im almost more attached to him \than she is too. all this time ive been looking for the george from the truck(he was a mack truck driver when we first got together) and i know its there somewhere i keep thinking it and hoping and the more i see the more i know that george is dead and gone. how can someone change so much? its amazing how i see your blog and i just get to thinking and it makes me think of my situations. i really hope once its done and im finished grieving that i can look back on it and feel as strong as you seem to be. i love this man more than ive ever loved anyone. ever.

    • They misrepresent themselves in order to suck us in. They present this good guy persona and it is understandable that we fall in love. I still have moments where I mourn for what should’ve been. I mourn for the man I wanted him to be. I mourn for the life we should’ve had together.

      Whether you heal or not is your choice. It is hard work and it hurts! You lived through the abuse – you are strong! It is time to be strong for you and your daughter and to do the hard work to heal. Again, it is your choice. I just want you to know that I think you are strong! You are strong enough to do this.

      I am only strong because I have God holding me up. He has been with me and guiding me through this. He loves me when I can stand on my own and when I fall. He loves me when I make good choices and when I make bad choices. He is full of grace and mercy and love and strength.

  3. Vesper

    When I left my ex, he did all kinds of things to make me see how much he “needed” me, even though he’d been all about how I couldn’t do anything right before. He called me one morning asking what to do because his truck wouldn’t start. He called me because he couldn’t figure out how I paid the bills on what he made and his utilities were getting shut off. He called me saying he was suicidal. He said all kinds of things. I truly believe he had relied on me for so long that he literally had no idea how to do things himself. His fury had me hiding behind stacks of boxes that never got unpacked, yet I was the one who actually got things done and made our existence reality. He couldn’t do anything for himself anymore. Five years later, he’s still blaming me for his inability to do whatever he doesn’t want to take responsibility for. I only know this because he’s in the same religious circle and though he’s two states away, our denomination has certain ties between all our regions to keep up with church programs. People who know him are under the impression that my leaving him was the reason he’s “the way he is.” I asked them what’s “the way he is”? What’s wrong with him? No one can give me a straight answer; it’s all abstract ideas of him being unwell in some way. It’s not funny, but the irony is remarkable how much of a victim he has voluntarily become to his own abuse. I cannot imagine living in that kind of self-inflicted delusion of negativity all the time. I also look back and can’t figure how I managed to spend 10 years of my life under that thumb. I’m blessed to have chosen healing. I really wish he had done the same, with or without me.

    • It is heartbreaking that they chose to live in such misery when we see how amazing health is. Bubba also has become a victim to his own abuse. He is still blaming me for everything he did and continues to do.

      I’m glad you chose healing! Good for you!!!!

  4. trixiekiddo

    I sat down with my husband and talked with him about the fact that we both knew our marriage was over. I wanted him to be empowered that it was both our decisions. But although his actions said the marriage was over (multiple emotional affairs) he was adamant to say “you’re leaving me.” I have seen for a long time that he is incapable of healing himself right now. He has played out his view of life again by acting in such a way to leave me no choice but to leave the marriage, just like his mother left him when he was 7. I truly hope he overcomes his victim complex someday.

    • Bubba is also adamant that the divorce is all my fault. He accepts no responsibility for his abuse at all. It is just another part of the abuse cycle. He admitted it as long as he thought he was going to suck me back in. As soon as I filed for divorce, he totally denied and downplayed his part in the end of the marriage until it was simply all my fault. He can accuse me of whatever he likes, I know the truth.

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