I was going to leave a comment on Tamara’s post, Who Am I without the Abuse?, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to turn it into a post, and not take over her comments with my own thoughts.
This is a subject that was weird for me. I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this before, but I’m not really in the mood to try and find the post, so you’ll just have to trust me on that. 🙂
Whenever someone talks to me about becoming the person I was before the abuse, I have no concept of what they are talking about. I don’t have any real memories of my life “before”, so how do I know if I’m the same person I was before? I tend to think I’m not. Being abused is part of who I am, and while I’ve certainly come a long way in healing over the many years, I don’t foresee ever reaching a point where it’s not part of me.
I had a somewhat related email discussion last week about making the adjustment from looking at our past, and trying to overcome the past, to looking at the present and then eventually, planning for the future. It’s not an easy adjustment to make. There’s a certain comfort in our pasts, it’s what we know, and what we’ve always known. We cling to the same self-defense mechanisms that helped us survive our childhoods, assuming they will keep us safe as adults. They don’t. In fact more times than not, they hurt us as adults but it’s scary to think about setting those aside and making another life without them. That is exactly what it takes to overcome abuse. It takes an ability, and a willingness, to acknowledge what has happened, how it has affected you, what you need to do to limit those effects, and still be able to go forward, building whatever life it is that you want to build.
In short, who are you without the abuse? No one knows for sure, because it’s up to you to become who you want to be. The abuse will always be part of us, it’s shaped who we are and as much as we can heal and overcome that, we can never completely rid ourselves of it’s influence. On the other hand, once you are ready, and able, to set aside all that work and turn your focus from the past in to the future, you are free to make the life you choose for yourself.
I can’t wait to see what we all become.