Healing As A Journey

21 Mar

Days or weeks pass when my heart doesn’t remind me that it’s broken or the sexual abuse doesn’t lurk in the shadow of my day. The sun is brilliant, the lodge pole pines sway in the breeze and the dogs’ antics reaffirms there is joy in the world. Reconstructing my life is an endless process that happens in increments that offer promise. As the days stroll by, sexual abuse seems nothing more than a veiled memory while the intense grief fades like the colors on an old worn out piece of clothing.

The further I travel down the road, the greater the distance between me and pain as if viewing the tragedy through a rear-view mirror as I watch the terrain fade in the distance. I pause—wondering if a catastrophic trauma should remain a vivid image. For years, I spent each day immersed in a burning landscape leaving nothing behind but scorched earth. Although I didn’t consciously live in the pain every day, the unconscious mind did.

I felt I was different—something set me apart from the rest of world, especially other mothers. The stigma of sexual abuse permeated me like a skin I couldn’t shed. Now, I rise in the morning, fix breakfast, get dressed, and hike with the dogs and wonder when it dropped away or did it. I can’t be sure. I can’t pinpoint the exact moments in the process when I emerged from another layer of grief or when I reached another level of personal insight or when I achieved another monumental behavioral change, each exacting a cost, that served to create a foundation to build a new life.

When Casey phones me to share the latest drama or crisis in her life or tells me she doesn’t want to be in this world anymore, I’m reminded of the destruction of a childhood and a life that lies in the wake of sexual abuse. Yet, when my daughter and I have these conversations, I feel numb. When my heart doesn’t bleed like it once did, I wonder if I have a heart.

When I speak to groups about the sexual abuse, I feel removed, as if I’m talking about another mother’s life—not mine–as if an invisible barrier exists between the person telling the story and the person who lived the story. Maybe it’s a self-preservation shield protecting me from the grief and distancing me from the pain that enables me to recall the events that leveled our lives.

I remember the times I prayed for the suffering to stop. I wanted my life back. Now that a level of my prayers has been answered, I’m left with unanswerable questions. Should I still be suffering? Shouldn’t the memories remain stark; resurrecting the intensity of the original grief? Sometimes I believe I should still be living the tragedy every moment; that I’ll never be free of the residual stench. But, the memories have lost their sting. My therapist assures me this is part of the healing process. I wonder. At least her reassurance provides some comfort and peace.


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