Trial by Fire
Continuing the trains of thought from these earlier journals (Becoming Isolated) , (Warm Light) , (Challenging Yourself) I wanted to talk about how to really change the way you think and do things. A good way to put it into perspective for yourself is to picture it as a Trial by Fire. I once read about this idea but forget where now, but it has to do with being tested and I think it was maybe a religious idea maybe. But once you get past it your are considered cleansed and that is a great word to use when your mind has been full of bad thoughts and images.
Some things I never, ever want to think about or talk about like being sexually abused as a child and can understand your reluctance to even think of the bad things in your own life that you just want to forget and move past. Sometimes life can be very harsh and if it starts when you are very young then it is very hard to ever get those emotions under control. But it is vital to your own self esteem to think about it and talk to someone about it if you can. There are many woman who are trained to talk about such things with you and make you understand 100% it was not your fault no matter what you were told back then. It can be very hard though to allow yourself to think about it at all. I know one of my sisters wanted to talk to me about it once but I couldn't back then. I don't think I have ever really talked about that part of my life ever before but have talked of other things and maybe a woman is dealing with that as well so thought it was important to help them see that the shame she feels does not belong to her and she can let it go. That is all I really want to say about that part of it though, sorry. I am more comfortable talking of just the emotional abuse and will move on to that again.
One reason I wanted to use the example of the designer perfume in that other story was how I never dealt with it and it gets blown out of proportion and can grow inside your mind into some much larger then it is. I was telling the girls that I think the bottle cost me only $75 but in my mind it had grown to be $100 because I let those feelings go unacknowledged for so long and it seemed to grow into something more important then it was. I think that is another hard thing to explain when trying to talk about these things. How do you explain and make it understood that it is not just the one bottle but most everything in your life that was like this. You can imagine what the person would say if you tried to give an example of it and mention something like this perfume bottle and giving it away. You can hear all the bad and negative things they could say to you. How you are being petty or just plain stupid for allowing something like that to hinder your emotional growth. But that is the extremely hard thing about emotional abuse is that it is made up of mostly little things like this with some big ones too but that it never stops. It goes on and on and on. Even when you try your hardest to change things it doesn't stop. You begin to feel powerless to change your life and a kind of acceptance sets in.
This is what is so hard to explain to people and what they do not understand about it though. How you do not want to have to go through all of that other stuff first and end up at this same place so it happens where a phrase or even just a look can have that same effect and you give in to give yourself some peace. Where you want to avoid that whole cycle of trying to stop it but it wont stop and you try harder and it doesn't stop but gets worse and you don't want it getting any worse then it is so give in to stop the worst from happening to you too. So other people looking at your situation see the abuser just saying one phrase or using a certain tone of voice or a gesture and you immediately adapt to whatever it happening and it looks like you are either very weak or very stupid to them. It is not fair but trying to see it from their point of view will help you understand why they think a certain way of you. It helps stop that feeling that no one will ever understand or care about you too.
What is important to remember is that these predators know full well what they are doing. They know exactly how to keep it going for as long as possible. They know what you will try to do to stop it and will work to block you from getting there. So what has to change is yourself, inside of yourself you have to build a reservoir of strength. You probably know how to hide your emotions if you are in this sort of situation already but if not it is a skill that is necessary for survival. Picture a little 'safe' hidden deep inside your heart, one created by a master craftsman that no thief can ever figure out how to open and steal what is inside. In there store all your goodness that you know you have inside yourself and add a bit of strength a bit at a time. The beauty of this safe is it is 'magical' and all that goodness and strength multiplies itself without you having to do anything. If that makes sense to you then you are at the same sort of place I was in my own life. If it doesn't then you are very lucky and can probably get our of your situation without much extra help and preparation needed. The danger is that the effects of this begin to show and your abuser knows to watch for this happening.
This is when it is vital you search for a group that helps deal with this sort of thing. Many woman's resource sites have their websites set up to "hide" it easily and make it safe to begin this search for escape. Here is the link to my local one that is 'safe' to browse since it has the feature of clicking on the purple part of it will take you immediately out of that site and to another one.
I hope no one needs it but it is important to know that others do truly care about you and what you are going through and have woman trained to talk with you. Isolation is that feeling that happens in this sort of situation where you begin to believe that no one will care and that you are not worth caring about as a person. It is extremely important to realize why this is happening to you and where that feeling comes from though. At one point in my life I was very afraid that me and my daughters would have to 'disappear' but luckily it never got that bad but that fear was there. It happens even in an emotional abusive relationship instead of a physically abusive one because the abuser has that 'power of God' over you and does not want to lose that.
It can seem that you find yourself in the same sort of situation over and over again too. The important thing to remember is that the ones who were 'lucky' and were helped got there by changing themselves inside. That can seem an impossible feat though. But it takes that first glimmer of hope that life can change and get better for you, that is where it starts. Then comes the part where you have to accept the fact that you have been in a bad situation and need to change. It seems so unfair, this part, but is vital too. "It wont stop until I make it stop" is what I was told. I was feeling sort of pissed at that at first, let me tell you! I risked coming here and this is your idea of help?! I fumed about it but eventually realized that they were right about it. It is strange that it took me so long to understand that part of it. I resented the idea that they thought I had not tried with all my might to change things and make it stop already!
You have to begin to understand that idea of 'it takes 2 to tango' and that there is something inside yourself that these predators can see and recognize. Believing in yourself is extremely hard to do at first. Especially when you feel like the worlds biggest idiot before you started thinking of yourself objectively. Empowering yourself is something that is both easy and hard. I mentioned in another journal entry how you can realize that what binds you to your past is little more then a thread. That you can break it so easily and think 'there, that wasn't so hard' and try to just forget about it all and move on. You need to stop and take the next few steps too. Just bit by bit, and you will learn how to handle this new freedom you gave yourself. You can read in my other journal entries some of the ways I felt during that time if you are interested but the important thing is to start to look at yourself and your situation with honesty and with being kind to yourself too. It is so true that it can become distorted so what you see is something hideous. Taking a step back from this image you can see it is just like that earlier example of the fun house mirror. Where you need to step away from that first otherwise you will only ever see that hideousness from different viewpoints instead of the real you.
So then you find yourself with this newfound freedom. It can happen in a few ways too. Like the idea of the igloo you sheltered in during the storm and now the sun is out and it has melted. There you stand and feel like you look like a wet t-shirt contestant and can feel so cheap. It is important to remember that this image lives in your mind only and others don't see you that way.
The other way it can happen is you built that huge strong wall around yourself to protect yourself. Then you realize you are trapped inside it and are scared at first. You think you will never escape but soon find the solid brick wall was only an illusion and it crumbles to ashes at your slightest touch. So there you find yourself feeling rather dusty but eager to greet other woman as a newly freed one. As you take a step toward them you cough at all the ash and soot and realize you look a fright, so dirty even. This is where that Trial by Fire idea really takes effect. Once you begin to accept yourself in this new light you can be cleansed and no one will ever see that dusty woman that you felt like.
It is kind of funny since it has taken me about 4 hours to write this and I want to delete it all again. I tell myself you said all this before! I tell myself such mean things sometimes still though I will post this. I had to step out onto the balcony and catch my breath. I can see the sky is lightening already and the birds are singing their good morning song. Seeing the beauty that lives in the world is what I want all woman to feel, no matter their current situation! Remember that no matter how bad it seems right now it can get better and will if you begin to change how you feel inside yourself. From when I first went to that woman's resource center in to my divorce was 3 long hard years of losing everything but my daughters. It will not be easy but it is so worth it. I want all woman to know that they are worth everything and they do not deserve bad treatment ever. It will seem like an impossible feat but it can be done. I think one reason I wanted to post my picture was so the woman who read these journals and see themselves can see "me" that dusty woman in Anchorage who believes in you!