If You Haven’t Lived It, You Don’t Get It
By Mickie Zada
You are not living in abuse anymore and you anticipated feeling excited, over-the-top happy that you escaped and can now live a happy and safe life. BUT (there’s that eraser word), while you do feel different now, and you feel better more often than before, you cry a lot, you feel a little bit unstable on your new foundation.
I’m describing how I felt, no one knows how anyone else feels. I’ve heard and read this very typical feeling described by other abuse survivors.
It feels like there’s a light, smoky funk swirling around…sometimes it feels pretty thick. It’s that “I’m different now” thing.
Sound familiar? It was to me, especially near the holiday season. I felt different than I anticipated…not sure who I was; it was hard to remove my wedding ring, I actually missed my abuser, it took me almost a year to file for divorce, even though I knew I was going to do it, some part of me didn’t want to…some part of me still believed he would change, morph into the good guy all the time.
We survivors of abuse feel stuck, don’t we? There’s that invisible thing going on, lurking around … it’s like we don’t fit in, anywhere anymore. Stuck in never-never land, while everyone else seems to be partying and enjoying the season.
We face uncertainty about dealing with holiday gatherings our abuser will likely also attend. The rug has been pulled out from under our feet. Our Ex shows up at parties, the gregarious center of attention.
Everyone loves him. They don’t know the truth.
People at parties, and my friends, asked why I left such a fun guy? Was I having a mid-life crisis? Did I have an affair? Those who asked why I stayed now ask why I don’t go back!!???
It’s the Holidays. People mean well. Society still thinks families should be together; “can’t you work it out?”, they ask.
Someone who has suffered abuse would never ask those questions. Just like physical pain, disease, cancer…If you haven’t lived it, you don’t get it.
Maintaining an upbeat, positive attitude is a challenge for Survivors during November and December. I managed to do it because I have always loved Thanksgiving and Christmas. I clung to childhood memories, the good seasons with my ex while our son was little. I avoided Hallmark holiday movies where everything, no matter how bad, turned out cheery by the end. In fact, the first year I left, I got rid of my TV. Didn’t replace it for 8 years!
There were many years when I didn’t think anything would make me feel better about the holidays again… Christmas used to be my favorite, and it is again, but for several years I just didn’t think I could “do it” anymore.
I bet you feel that un-definable sensation we experience during the holidays, that “knowing” that something isn’t right, it’s not quite OK. It’s like a fog that hangs in the air around our heads, clogs our minds… we don’t actually see it, nobody sees it and nobody feels it. Just us.
“It’s” the reason we hide out, being stuck, not fitting in, not participating.
The funk is real. I learned that it’s called chemicalization. A big word that means things are changing inside our body. Yep, “It”, this funk, has a name!
Your spiritual realization is that you deserve a better life than abuse. It is finally accepting that it’s a choice to stay in an unsafe environment. It is accepting that somewhere along the path, you zigged and he zagged…you expected him to be the kind, loving, caring man he showed you while you were dating…but he soon allowed his true, angry, controlling self to surface, again and again. You zigged and he zagged.
Your new mind-set and determination to stay away from his toxic and dangerous behavior toward you is fighting against your old behaviors that made his negative actions toward you OK.
Your old mind-set was well established. You did what he wanted, he controlled your actions, told you how to behave. You made excuses for the bruises, or hid them under long sleeves. You cut your hair shorter, for style you said…in reality, short hair isn’t as easy to grab and pull. You chose not to live that way anymore…you had a spiritual realization.
TA-DA! New mind-set conflicts with old behaviors and beliefs. Chemicalization!!
Now that we know what “It” is, then we can deal with it. And, we know nothing is wrong. Now we understand the funk is not a bad thing, that it’s a positive, normal, even exciting growth process.
How long will it last? I assume it’s different for every person. I assume it will last as long as it takes for your new mind-set to override the old.
I wish I’d have known this when I experienced chemicalization. I would have known that the process is Good. I’d have not been so afraid that was how I was going to feel for a very long time.
I’d have been more secure in the fact that I did make the best decision for me…that the funky, foggy, non-clear head and mind was the result of good, solid new thoughts, emotions and actions.
If chemicalization is your state of mind now, go with it. Know it’s Good and Right. Know that it’s PROOF that you are making major changes for the better…that you ARE on the right track.
YAY! It’s a Gift your body is giving you…you are becoming your true self and you can feel the change. WOW! That’s quite a revelation and a wonder-full holiday gift!