This is a follow up to yesterday’s post about life changing moments.
We started counseling/therapy/pscyhotherapy in 2004. In the past 11 years, every one of us has gone through transformation and change. We worked through our fear; took down the barriers separating us from the rest of the world; let outsiders see our inside self (the real us); all while coping with rages, fear, shame, guilt, anguish, pain, and grief that did not seem to have a source. Baby steps. Learn to trust ourselves. Learn to trust each other. Learn to trust outsiders. Make mistakes. Try again. Keep on trying. Do what is necessary to survive. Accept that survival means acting and speaking in ways that are not aligned with our values.
Stop shaming ourselves like the others did for taking steps that felt right to our instincts, steps that went against our conditioning. Steps that caused physical/emotional/psychological pain and obsessions/compulsion to cause harm as punishment for breaking the rules. Learn how to cope with panic attacks and dissociation. Learn emotion regulation and anger management so as not to harm innocents (including ourselves).
Yesterday I posted a life changing moment just after it happened. Today I am writing about the backlash. Because as much as I hope that someday every survivor finds a way to move on from surviving to living to thriving and experience the confidence that comes from hard internal work, I also know that it is a dream. Success comes to those who work hard; learn from mistakes; keep an open mind; cultivate empathy, resilience, compassion; and persist in moving towards healing will someday experience insides and outsides matching.
The inner changes will be reflected in outside personality and treatment of self/others. A friend at work is presently going through such a transformation; it’s an honor and a pleasure to support him as he becomes the person he wants to be on the inside and the outside. And much appreciated to have him as a supporter of my journey too.
As my current counselor says: what you put into your recovery is what you get out of it.
We got the courage to face our fears with joy and trust in our support system. And backlash in the form of flashbacks reminding us that the woman we saw yesterday knew and did nothing to help before. What used to be fuzzy sensations and fragmented memories are now full color, motion-picture style memory videos looping through our brain. Awake or sleeping we cry at unexpected times, feel anger, anxiety, sadness, and shame. The headache means some are suppressing the tears so as not to cry at work. The tense muscles mean pain is on the way. Body memories will appear if we don’t let go.
So what to do?
I am not sure. We all will be trying different methods of self-care tonight. Soothing, grounding, connecting with friends, getting perspective from others, a call to the hotline, making dinner, and remembering that every encounter has multiple perspectives. Because even though walking away was the best thing I did, I still love my family. And I know that a lot of them love me in their own way too.
Seeing my aunt hide from me was a shock. I did not feel smug or proud that she hid from me. I felt confused and conflicted. It was never my intention to cause her pain or harm with my presence. Nor was it the intention of my alters. A mutual friend (of mine and the aunt’s) who did not attend the party (other commitments) helped me get perspective on this. The friend also reminded me that the aunt loves me and might have been trying to respect my boundaries/not hurt me by hiding. The aunt might also have been giving herself time to make a plan since she was not sure how to cope with the situation.
While not having contact with immediate family and anyone who knowingly participated in past experiences is absolute and unchanging, I am reluctant to shut out family who might be willing to change and meet me part way to create something new from the ashes of the past. I will not ever let any of them hurt me like before. And I won’t forget. That is part of why I/we experience the backlash. But I am in a place now where I am secure enough in myself and my ability to be safe that taking baby steps outside of my comfort zone are possible.
This is what we want and hope for our visitors and guests. That some day each and every one of you will be able to live the lives you deserve.