I was reminded this weekend by someone of a painful time in my ongoing recovery. It is hard to understand if you have never experienced it. As part of my healing involves helping others, I’ve seen a lot go through this stage, and how they react during this can either move them leaps and bounds or set them back.
When you are abused as a child, your world becomes associated with pain, to the point where different levels of pain is all you know. This can last for days, weeks, months, or years. You get used to it, and of course you adapt, because if you didn’t you wouldn’t make it through it. The scars this can leave in the mind are with deep roots, and take a lot of work to get through.
After the pain stops, your thought process doesn’t always comprehend that the cause of the pain has stopped. In your thoughts, you are surviving, so you keep doing what you did that worked. During this period, it can be very painful for the abuse victim to be around people who are healthy and/or happy. Someone who is cheerful and positive can only be tolerated for brief moments as this can leave you confused, tired, and unable to see why you aren’t that way. At times I would lash out at anyone who was further in their recovery than me. I couldn’t see past the pain in my mind that had been my world for over 19 years.
In helping others in their recovery, you have to be able to recognizes the different stages. You have to know that someone who reacts so strongly to a bit of praise or encouragement are still hurting so deep inside that they can’t comprehend it. You have to know they won’t see it until they are ready to start their own healing journey. I talk about it to remind us that their reactions aren’t towards us or anything we said or did. Mental pain this intense needs kindness, even if the kindness isn’t appreciated at the time. This pain needs patience, as everyone heals on their own timeline.
I am thankful I’m not in that stage of my journey any more. I had to work through forgiving myself for how I acted then. I really didn’t know any better at the time. I’m thankful I can see someone there, and stand kind and gentle against the storm knowing in the end it’s not about me. I am thankful I know it gets better.