Who are you?

posted in: Child Abuse 6 |
Reading Time: 2 minutes

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.

6 Responses

  1. Karen
    | Reply

    Very well said! I love the balance you share in this post. I’m finding the same to be true in that I will never be totally rid of the past but I can certainly heal from the affects of it! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Tamara
    | Reply

    Excellent post! You are right in that the abuse shaped who I am and in that way it will always be a part of me. However, I no longer have the hurt, anger, fear and all of the emotions that have driven my life up until now. Truly for the first time I do not feel like my identity is an abuse victim. I did not realize until I reached this level of healing to what an extent my entire life was about being abused, illness caused by abuse, trying to heal from abuse, taking medications to deal with the abuse… You get the picture.

    I feel free now which is wonderful. I also am missing my guide posts that showed me where my life was. I am having to figure out now how I want to live my life. Who do I want to be? And, I am taking responsibility for myself without the fallback of – I am fragile because of abuse and illness so please don’t hurt me. Does that make sense? It is exciting and scary all at the same time.

    Thank you for your post which helps me understand a bit more what I was trying to say and where I go from here.

    Tamara
    (Oh, sorry I took over YOUR comment section!) 😉

  3. Grace
    | Reply

    This is a beautifully written and reflective post. Having been in that place you are now and beyond, I can see that for several years, my “job” was a victim trying to heal. The shift into “what do I want to be now” was sort of a natural evolution of the healing. But it was unsettling and scary knowing there was no going back. Healing changes each of us in a positive way. We are different–a good different. And since we weren’t making life choices of our own free will (all the subconscious messages and the hiding of the abuse world) led us down paths we would not have chosen otherwise. Before I knew I had DID, being a therapist was never something I aspired to be. It was the outcome of all the good of my healing. Wherever you are lead, it is healing and good things that are leading you now. Not sure how reassuring that is since it’s still unknown. But you will be in a much better place for the rest of your lives. I’m actually going through all that again because my practice had to hire someone to replace me after a year because of my medical issues right now. I’m using this downtime to combine my love of writing with my therapist experience…and my survivor experience. Life has some interesting and sometimes sudden turns. One thing I believe we all have in common though is that we are adaptable to most any situation. Free will is good. Being able to self care through some or most of the abuse emotional and physical (body memory) pain is empowering. Thanks for sharing your internal struggle with his. I’ve been following you on Google Reader.

  4. Terrin
    | Reply

    This made me think of my life. I love to compare my life with others to see the similarities and differences. I love how I was able to look at my life and find the similarities with yours. I found this post to be very eye opening. Who we were in our past do shape who we are today. We definitely keeps those bonds from our childhood and rely on them when we grow. This can cause us to be good people and/or bad people. It all depends on how the person chooses to activate them. I loved the post! Good luck to you!

    It would be great if you visited my blogging site! (http://skillsworthlearning.com/nano/mambo/). It’s on the same topic as yours.

  5. MikeM
    | Reply

    Thanks for stopping by Terrin, I’ll definitely be checking out your site, and linking!

  6. Kate
    | Reply

    This is my favorite blog post of yours. I too can’t wait to see who we all become.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate

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