- August 15, 2016
- 4 minute read
- by Staci Gray
I believe their is a methodology for healing from intimate partner abuse. First, we make the courageous choice to get away from abuse. We leave the dysfunction that’s been compromising our sanity and destroying our spirit. We make the most important choice to put our oxygen mask on first.
We grieve the loss of what we thought we had and what we thought we wanted. We forgive ourselves for not being perfect . . . and for not knowing what we didn’t know.
We take back our right to choose how our life story will go. We acknowledge that the choices we’ve made up until this point have been unsafe for our head and our hearts.
We become aware of the dysfunctional indoctrination that was destroying our lives and keeping us trapped in a vicious cycle. And then we start making daily choices to protect our heads and our hearts.
We decide to approach life with curiosity, not judgment. Choose progress over perfection. Take responsibility for our future and begin building trust within ourselves again.
The next step after all that is gratitude. Given that we’ve been living with lies, betrayal, and abuse—it’s normal to experience self-doubt, grief, anxiety, and shame. We can even become resentful and angry at the healing process.
Being indoctrinated with dysfunction and then developing destructive coping to deal with the internal conflict caused by the indoctrination and then repeating the cycle of dysfunction in our intimate relationships is a recipe for shame, resentment, anger, and regret.
The antidote is gratitude.
We didn’t know what we didn’t know. The coping we developed to protect ourselves and comfort ourselves was necessary at the time to keep our head and our hearts safe. We can be grateful for how they served us then.
I’m grateful my instincts kicked in and protected me from emotional, mental, verbal, and physical abuse. I’m grateful I used to value peace over truth, because it kept me safe and gave me the opportunity to get out intact. It gave me the opportunity to build a life that I feel safe, happy, and loved in.
All the pain, deceit, lies, betrayal, abuse, disappointment, shame, unhealthy coping, and dysfunctional indoctrination were a part of my healing process.
Just because there is an immense amount of pain and struggle associated with escaping abuse and letting go of people, belief systems, and former coping that no longer serve us does not mean we have to become bitter, ungrateful, negative, and erect a concrete wall around our heads and hearts.
There is beauty in all the madness. We can be grateful for former coping, because it kept us safe until we were in a position to make different choices.
We can appreciate the good in a dysfunctional relationship. Nothing is ever all bad or all good. Abuse is ugly and inexcusable. Period. So please do not hear what I am not saying. Lies, betrayal, and abuse should not be tolerated.
Oftentimes, perpetrators are hurting people that have been suffering from an ideology that is destroying their lives, and unfortunately, it tries to destroy anyone that crosses their path, too. We just happened to be one of them.
Life lessons are learned through pleasurable experiences and painful experiences. People have a purpose in our life for a certain time— not everyone who comes into our lives is meant to stay until the end.
We can be grateful for the good times and for the pain that led to healing.
Gratitude is a choice. It’s something we can practice in each moment. It grounds us, and keeps things in perspective. It helps us manage our thoughts and feelings, and prevents us from spinning out of control and running to former coping.
Giving our minds the task of finding something to be grateful for in each moment brings happiness to our heads and hearts. We can’t control if other people choose to lie, betray, or mistreat us. We can’t control if something catastrophic happens. We can’t control external pains that may arise. However, we can choose how we view it.
Circumstances and events that occur in our lives have the value and meaning we give it. We can choose to be bitter and ungrateful and let the abuse, betrayal, lies, and deceit permeate our happiness, our peace, and our sanity . . .
Or, we can choose to extract the pearls of wisdom and be grateful those painful circumstances gave us the chance to learn a life lesson that forever changed us. And be grateful that we actually learned the lesson, because it gave us the platform to heal and begin thriving in our lives again.
The only reason to be ungrateful or regret what’s happened in our lives is if we choose not to get the lessons and put in the effort to heal.
I am asked often if I have any regrets. My answer is always the same . . . “No, I don’t, because I really like where I’m at today. The lessons I’ve learned were going to be learned one way or another, so no sense regretting how I learned them. The good thing is I got the lesson. And I’m grateful for those life lessons, because it got me to where I am right now, and I really like where I’m at.”
Spending time wishing things were different or rehearsing woulda, coulda, shoulda’s in our minds won’t change the past—it only steals our happiness from today.
Reflect on the past and be grateful for the lessons. Be grateful for the progress you’re making along your healing road.
Choosing gratitude is a daily practice. Just like courage is . . . just as self-empathy is . . . just as choice is . . . just as perspective is.
If this was helpful, you might enjoy learning my 10-step approach to healing from intimate partner abuse. It's the exact choices I made to heal myself, check it out here.