Today I saw a blog post by a friend of mine that had nothing to do with child abuse or survivors, but one which I really felt the lessons most definitely applied when it comes to healing. On the blog, Red Boot Lady is talking about the lessons learned from a recent experience meeting another aviation student:
Howard was exactly the right person to meet at exactly the right time. He is living proof that one does not have to walk in a straight line to get to a destination on a self-imposed time limit. He knows about second chances. He was a sign.
This is such an important lesson for survivors of childhood abuse. Healing is not a straight line, there is no “normal” time and no “normal” path to healing. I can’t even count the number of comments and emails I’ve received over the years asking me how long healing should take. There’s no answer to that, it takes as long as it takes. During certain times of our lives we’ll be able to really focus on healing and may see some great progress. During others, we will have other priorities that keep us from focusing on it, or things will simply be too hard to see great progress at the same rate as we were before. We’ll also all be doing things at our own rates and within our own timelines. It’s not a contest, and we aren’t here to compete with one another. The important thing is to continue, and know that it’s never too late to pick it back up again.
When you get a Private Pilot License, it doesn’t say that it took you “x” years to get there, and you dropped the training and picked it up again 3 times, etc. It simply says that you have completed the training, and are licensed to fly a plane. Those of us healing from childhood abuse don’t get a license (Really, what does “healed” look like anyway? LOL), but we do display the fruits of our labors in healthier relationships, more joy, a sense of self value, and various other day to day acts of living. When others see, and are inspired by those acts, no one asks how long it took to reach this point, or whether you had to stop and pick it up again later. Rather, they are likely to be simply impressed with our progress.
Of course, since we never want to give ourselves any credit, it’s very likely that in our own mind we’ll be saying “yeah but it took me twice as long as this other survivor over there, or they are already ahead of me here, etc.” What a freaking waste of mental energy! Just be happy that you are moving forward, and be proud of that!