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The Byproducts of Abuse

I once felt I was an object walking around, keenly disguised as a human. A thin veneer of skin covering the hurt, pain and sorrow that lay underneath. Now I know I am a whole person who was objectified.

I love this feeling, this knowledge, this acceptance. It took me nine long years to get to this point and I make sure I acknowledge my hard work. It’s a hard-earned, middle finger to my perpetrators that they couldn’t take my humanity, my person-ness from me. Where I once had no memory of a past, I now have a congruent, truthful timeline. And, even though it’s an awful truth, it’s mine, it’s my past and for me, it’s much better than living with blinders on.

However, learning to live with my past has left me with a large reservoir of leftover feelings. It’s been very gratifying to have worked through all the memories and the feeling and emotions associated with the memories, but I found there are feelings associated with living with the truth of my trauma. The feelings that can occasionally bubble up at different times are anxiety, depression, desperation, fear, numb, violated, insignificant, grief, alone, unloved, neglected, shock, pain, confusion, anger, afraid, dirty, sadness, rejected, confusion, disgust, small, loneliness, ugly, abandoned, disappointed, hopeless, betrayed.

The feelings can be more prevalent some days, especially when I get triggered and have flashbacks or the anniversary times of the year. They are there, even though I have dealt with and processed the memories. I have dealt with the traumas, but these feeling are byproducts of the abuse. The feelings don’t just leave because I have talked about them, written, used art or emoted over them. It’s OK, I have learned that feelings are like sets of waves, and I have learned to ride them like an expert surfer.

I also feel lots of love, hope, happiness, contentment, support and trust. And for that, I am grateful. It makes me smile.

I used to tell myself that if I could take a strainer and scoop out the byproduct of my past I would. I thought scooping them away meant more room for happiness, contentment, hope and love. Those feelings are what drives my desire to live. But then I realized it’s important to have and feel those left over feelings. I wasn’t able to experience them the first four decades of my life. They were repressed, never to be taken out. Now I know that it is a very important part of my healing process, and they cannot be talked, or drawn away. They have to be felt.

I no longer expect I won’t have feelings about what happened in my life. I’m much more whole, living without the denial of my past. I continue to accept that sometimes the reservoir will get stirred up and wavy, while also remembering to rest and enjoy the calm waters when the waves are still, and peaceful. I will let the byproduct of my past continue to come to the surface, knowing that eventually that feeling will spill over and float away, taken by the currents. Yet I stay firmly grounded, living with blinders off, owning my past, my truth, flying free of the silence that held me hostage.

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Thinkstock photo via Anna_Isaeva