Cheryl Strayed, in her book Wild, describes her journey, hiking across one side of the U.S. while facing her ‘demons’. She wrote that she told herself that she would change the script that many women are told. She told herself that she was strong, safe, brave.
I liked that. It fit my script, that dialogue of ‘I’ve got this. I can do this’.
But what? There comes a time when you think, no, you know, you have recovered from abuse. That #Maybehedoesnthityou except when he does abuse. You feel safe . You feel strong. You know life is good, mostly.
But then someone who knows your partner or husband that was, who has known no abuse, who perhaps mistrusts other women (we are taught as young girls to see each other as competition, to be mean girls), who is charmed by the manipulative narcissist, makes a comment. One that throws the abuser into the casual conversation, as though the abuse never happened.
He is validated yet again. His opinions are considered as valid as yours. But they can’t be, you want to cry. He doesn’t get to abuse me, and inflict emotional, verbal and mental abuse on our children, and get off, scot free.
Yet he does. Statistics show that, time and time again. You wonder if you will ever feel safe. Or free.
Then you remember. You have changed that narrative. The abuser can’t hurt you any more. You are not a victim. And it’s okay to feel these surges of panic every now and then. They make you remember.
Remembering is good. It ensures you will never be go back there. And it ensures that you will help others, that you have not forgotten what it feels like to be unsafe, so that you can empathise and not judge, and help others to safety.
Even with your (occasional) writing.
Like Cheryl Strayed.