From time to time on this site, and on other sites frequented by survivors, I get asked the question about when it “ends”. What I find is that many survivors are looking for that time when they are simply never affected by anything related to their past. Most of the time I respond by pointing out that it can take a long time to truly learn how to overcome it, and I’m also careful to move them away from the idea that there’s a point in life where they don’t even think about the abuse ever.
I’m careful to move the discussion in that way for one very important reason, I don’t want to come across as discouraging. I want to focus on the positive, that you can heal, you can find enjoyment from your adult life, that you can learn how to overcome the abuse. I don’t want to focus on the fact that this magical time where you never think about it doesn’t exist.
Let me give you an example from my own life. By all accounts, you could consider me to be pretty well healed. I’ve been out of therapy and off meds for almost 15 years now, I have a strong healthy marriage, a successful career and generally am pretty happy with my life. Yet the other day I woke up in a cold sweat, after having a nightmare about being molested.
Despite all of my success, the reality is I am still affected by what happened to me. The memories, and the nightmares come less frequently, but they are still there. I’m just a lot better about dealing with them. That’s what healing and overcoming are about, not in forgetting it ever happened. If your goal is to somehow wipe away the past, I’m sorry to tell you that you can’t. But you can absolutely, create a new future for yourself, where the past doesn’t control you. That’s the goal.
I was thinking about this subject earlier today and wondering if those survivors that told when they were children and if they got therapy and a great support system might have a chance of healing all of their issues at some time in their lives. I don’t think that at nearly 61 years old that I will heal all of incest issues. But even if I don’t, the hurt isn’t so intense when an issue does come up today like it was when I started healing at 38 years old and feeling a few years after that. I would like to think that a child today has a chance that I wasn’t given to completely heal at a young age. I can always hope.
Patricia, I haven’t really considered that. I have my doubts that even an early start at healing would allow for a state of complete healing where there are no effects. But, even if there isn’t that they do have the chance to spend more years with healthy attitudes about the issues than those of us who got a later start, that’s for sure!
This is another one of those questions where you have to disengage from anyone who hasn’t been through it, they talk a lot of BS about recovery with zero insight into what it takes to even start to get help. A survivor’s life has been permanently altered and it’s better to work towards accepting that and then getting on with your adult life becomes a tiny bit easier.