Taking away me…
Reading and writing have always been my escape. My saviours. They have never failed me. Except when they did. After I was abused at work I couldn’t read or write. They were dead to me. Trying to force myself made me feel dead inside.
And what the hell do you do when huge parts of yourself are taken away? For years you can’t read. Books are meaningless, even your most favourite. You can’t write and you decide you never will again so you delete all traces of the you before.
For almost four years this was my life. Incredible physical and mental pain. Aching. And I’d never felt that before. I’d been through so much in my life and had never felt this. Every word I’d read in the past that had saved me was now meaningless. And how do you work through that? How do you come back from that? And how do you live with yourself knowing that you’ve allowed two meaningless men to affect your life so insidiously?
Working through it — first and foremost, remember that everything takes time. So bloody boring right? I hate time. I hate waiting. Despise it. But it is what it is. Moving on… find something else. Whatever it is. Allow yourself to move on from the things you loved and accept that you may never love it again. I watched a lot of TV. I committed my free time to watching TV series and accepted I would never read or write again. And I was fine with it — as much as I could ever be, losing something I loved more than anything. And with time it comes back. You need to heal and you will get better.
Coming back — for me, there’s no coming back because I realised I didn’t need to forgive myself for needing to heal. I needed a break from my usual coping methods and that was okay. You do not need to punish yourself for healing in the way you needed. You do not need to hate yourself for taking the time you needed even if it’s taken years upon years. I truly believe that you are where you need to be in that moment. When you’ve healed you do not need to go on an apology tour and you especially don’t need to apologise to yourself. Love yourself and who you were in those painful moments.
Living with yourself — I thought this way for a long time. How could I do this to myself? To my family? To my friends? Because those two men were and are nothing. So why? Well, there’s no good answer for that. They knew what they were doing. They were abusers. There is no good reason for any of it except that they needed to continue doing illegal things. That’s it. You live with yourself by knowing you did nothing wrong. You did not allow yourself to be abused. You did not allow gaslighting to appear. That is all on them. None of that is on you.
So, really, there is nothing to live with. You do not need to forgive yourself. You did nothing wrong. Insidious people work their way into people’s lives and that has to be okay because it happened to you and there’s no going back. Did you learn what to look out for? Yes. Would you know how to remove yourself from the same situation should it happen again? Yes. But if it happened again and you don’t then that’s still on the abuser. Being trusting. Wanting to be paid a legal wage. Standing up for yourself and the others being abused around you — there’s nothing wrong with that.
In short: I didn’t have to learn to live with myself because I look in the mirror and love what I see. I didn’t have to learn to forgive myself because I didn’t do anything wrong. All of this resolution takes time and it takes fresh eyes and it takes repeated mantras. It takes work but that’s okay because I get to live a wonderful life.