“Change is good” and “Change is hard” are two exchangeable adages often used when we’re trying to comfort or reassure each other in life. The changes brought through healing from childhood sexual abuse are also really painful. We learned at a young age that to be vulnerable is to be abused. Our ideas about trust are often warped by our manipulators. The strength we needed to interact with the world in a healthy way was subverted. So to seek a new way of living is to break our own bones. To break down the structures we created to survive.
One aspect of healing that I have found to be very difficult is how much harder it is to be around people who are not intentionally seeking personal growth. I know everyone’s story is different. But more often than not, if there was abuse in your life, especially within the family, there is a family dynamic that supported abuse. Whether it was avoidance, pride, a perfectionist ideal, competition, negligence, there’s a supporting family environment for abuse the majority of the time.
What I want is for every individual in my family to seek healing. I want them all to hear my whole story and seek to expose truth in their own lives. I want them to want to support me, to talk about how we can prevent this from happening in future generations, to talk about how the abuse affected the family as a whole, and to talk about those supporting variables. I often find myself struggling with the restraint I have to show in order just to get little pieces of these conversations out. I’m usually walking the line between sharing and getting shut down. In my opinion, open discussions can only help everyone. Even if we disagree, any conversation is one step closer to growth. So in the past I’ve tried to “sneak” these conversations in.
Recently I realized that the expectation I was putting on my family to seek change themselves is unfair. The choice not to change is a choice that change makers need to accept that others will make. It may feel like a soul wrenching wrong choice. But just as I wish I’d had the choice to escape the pain of my abuse, I need to give others the choice to escape the pain of healing and hide in avoidance. I think their choice is wrong, but it’s also wrong for me to choose for them. It’s wrong for me to think I know what their inner world is like, or what it’s like for them to process pain. What to me looks and feels like silence could be the aging process of a good brew of change. While that’s really a best-case scenario and often not what I think is happening, it’s possible. People do process life differently. They process pain differently. Pain brings out people’s extremes, so it’s understandable that the challenges that I have with people I love would be brought even more to the forefront when the discomfort that change brings is presented to them; the discomfort/pain that truth, after silence, reveals. The pain that leads to hope, to healing, and to a more authentic way to relate to each other, is not for me to push on anyone else.
The Last Battle Blog aims to provide meaningful tools and information about the issue of sexual violation. We offer a way to express yourself, as you engage in your own personal awareness and share your strengths with others. Our goal is to cover a variety of topics, stories, ideas, and to create a blog that is beneficial and honoring to those who read it. Last Battle’s contributing authors help make this happen.