• Cate

Loops

My counselor said recently that the healing process is like a line of loops. You move forward and then you step back a bit. The forward progress is gaining more than the loop back, but sometimes it’s hard to recognize.

I can validate that. I do feel the pull backward a bit, but it is a progressive back step. I’m angry with my dad. I’m just so angry. But it’s a healthy anger. It’s placing the blame where it belongs. I could never be to blame in this situation. I was a helpless child. He was supposed to care for me. He failed.

I had to understand my mom to move past that influence in my life. Now I do understand her. I understand my sister, who was also a victim, now too. This is how I came to understand the choices we make as parents. We don’t have to be like our parents, you can change the things you thought they could have done better.

The pull backwards, to the place where they still had power over me, is hard to resist. But I can’t dwell in animosity. I don’t want to live that life. I will never understand society’s intimation that because you didn’t have the luxury, why should anyone else? When did bitterness become the national disposition?

But I have to heal and build at the same time. This new life I’m trying to make for myself, these are good steps that I’m taking. They are hard things to do. They are hard things to keep doing. Consistency is something I need to work on for myself. I can’t just pick something up and put it back down. I need to hold onto these things I’ve given myself.

Bad habits are hard to break. New habits are hard to make. I am feeling the pull of my old life. I have always lived that way before, but I can’t live that way now. I have moved beyond being able to embody the person I was. This is who I am now. It’s just new. I’m not used to being healthy and strong.

Mindsets are hard to reset. Right now, I’m breaking old mindsets. Right now, I’m trashing my old world view. I’m becoming something else. This is good. This is what is supposed to happen.

But that doesn’t mean that I won’t mourn my old life. It doesn’t mean I won’t feel the burn of the life I should have had. It doesn’t mean that my old life didn’t happen and that pain is meaningless. It doesn’t mean that I wasn’t a victim.

I can’t stay a victim though. I have to move on. I was treated in unimaginably horrific ways. I don’t wish my nightmares on anyone. I could feel sorry for myself and give up. I tried that once. It lasted a day and I was done with it.

It may seem strange to share all of this on a jewelry page. But my jewelry is intertwined with my journey. The beads are what bring me to the other side of the flashback. The beads are what get me through the day. The beads are what comfort me in the middle of the night when it’s too scary to close my eyes.

I’ve read that it’s hard for people who’ve been through what I’ve been through to share their stories. That’s why I’m sharing mine. I don’t want pity. I want awareness.

Because no one saved me when I was a kid. There’s no safety net for me now. Many people just can’t understand what makes a person allow themself to be abused. I think I can explain that.

And so, although healing is challenging, I’m going to use my journey to help other people understand how your life can be taken from you. I want to explain how you lose your voice. And I want to explain how you get it back.

I will be damned if I let abuse define the rest of my life. I’m done with it. I never deserved it and I don’t deserve it now.

I never thought I had any power. I never thought I mattered. But that’s changing. I gave a speech for Cornerstone about 2 years ago. I shared my story about leaving my ex-husband. The chief of police for the neighboring city came up to me and shook my hand. He said, “You have a power that’s all your own.”

I didn’t believe him then, but I believe him now. I am powerful. I’m a strong woman and I will die before I let another man tell me what I’m worth ever again. My ex-husband once compared me to a used car with a for sale sign on it after I’d left him and pawned my wedding ring. Never again.

Don’t tell me to sit down. Don’t tell me to shut up. Don’t tell me I’m nothing. I could be bitter, but I’m empowered. I don’t want to suffer. I don’t want to cry. I don’t want to shame and blame. I want to get to the other side of it. I want to be happy in a way that my abusers can never be.



I’m nearly there, though my Buddhist teacher says there is no there, there is only here. I’m here. I’m going to keep going, because I’m not going to give up on my kids. I’m not going to give up on myself. I’m going to keep learning and growing. And someday, I’m going to take my journey and use it to help people like me.

I am here. I am going to keep moving forward, even if I stumble backwards sometimes. Turning a life around is hard work. The work is a part of the journey and the journey shows us who we are.

Some of the ugliest moments become woven into the intricate and beautiful tapestries of our lives. It’s our job to find the beauty surrounding the ugly moments.

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