“I don’t know,” my therapist said to me in one of my last sessions from this time of working with her, “I don’t know how you were so functional when you first showed up in my office.”
Shout it from the mountaintops; hide it so that no one knows. That is the dichotomy of abuse. Half of the time I feel like I suffered through a lot and I ask my therapist to validate that – “was this tough?” I ask, “or am I making it up?” – and half of the time I think it must have been really no big deal, and even with her validation I don’t believe I should be affected by any of it.
I know that many, many, many people have endured far worse situations and experiences than I have, and sometimes I do question why I have such scars. Then my therapist says “I don’t know how you showed up in my office that first time so functional,” and I can’t ignore that yes, while others lived through much worse than I did, the mix of experiences, the compounding effect of situations, and the lack of a safe and sturdy “home base” actually could have knocked me completely out.
How did I turn out okay?
The other day a good friend asked me how I got through my anorexia. I told her I didn’t really know. I look back at my life and see that I’ve somehow narrowly escaped numerous disastrous circumstances. In a cult and then by the grace of god, out of a cult. Anorexic and then by the grace of god, able to eat again. Looking for cocaine every day and then by the grace of god, stopping. Engaged to a rage-ful alcoholic and then by the grace of god, walking away.
I sense a theme in how I got through things. First, I don’t really know, and second, by the grace of god. I have somehow been lifted up too many times to tell, and I somehow have a will to survive – and thrive – that has never let me fall beyond the point of getting help, or of helping myself.
I don’t know how – or why – I was graced with turning out okay. I am full of appreciation that I was, and I did. And as I hear the misguided voices in my head shouting “don’t be so full of yourself!” I remember that I’m not being full of myself; I am celebrating the beauty of the human spirit, and the grace of god.
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