An online friend of mine posted her despair over having lost parts of herself to the Recovery process — her ability to think, write, exercise, experience herself as being a strong, independent woman in the world. Here’s what I wrote to her in response:
You haven’t lost anything; you still have all those parts of you, they’re just taking a back seat to the immediate process of Recovery. Think of yourself as detoxifying from deep emotional poisons that have been locked away in your body for all these years. You were able to keep them in place, keep them from destroying you, in part because you developed the use of all those pieces of your “you-ness” including the brains, the writing, the fitness, the strength.
Recovery means you’re reversing the process of suppressing those pains and allowing the memories, the feelings, to release. It’s like you’re taking out the abscess-causing splinter of experience that caused all these years of festering. By letting down that barrier, you are letting the abscess drain. Feels like hell, I’ll give you that.
But then, so does ANY detoxifying process. When I detoxed from heavy metals, about a week into the process I felt like I had the flu — fever, no energy, terrible taste in my mouth, dull skin, guck coming out from all over. But in a few days that passed and suddenly I felt better than I had in years because I no longer carried that invisible burden of toxicity. That good feeling persisted and became the basis for the rest of my life.
So it is with recovering from incest. I know, because my life exploded into tiny pieces when my denial cracked (I had submerged my truth so deeply it had been held in amnesia for 34 years). The only remaining constant in my life was a day job where I was forced to impersonate a normal person for nine hours a day. Everything else was up for grabs. I dropped away from friends, family (of course!), activities, anything that wasn’t directly involved in recovery after I discovered the truth of the abuse. My money went to therapists, workshops, Recovery literature and art supplies. My true life resembled nothing of what had been and nothing of what it appeared to be on the surface.
And then came the day when I began to come back to myself. It happened soon after a major breakthrough in my memory process, when I solved a piece I’d long intuited but had never directly accessed. From that point on, my life again became my life… only better, because I no longer carried a hidden burden that kept my authenticity away from everyone, including myself.
Hang in there, my friend. Keep raging, writing, posting, examining, complaining, thinking, reaching out — just keep moving forward and reclaim your authentic self. As a wise woman workshop leader told me in early Recovery: “This is by definition an awkward process. There’s no way you can do it easily, gently, gracefully. Once you accept that, you’ll be fine.”
She was right. So go be your awkward, beautiful, Recovering self, keep moving forward and heal, heal, heal!
Tags: art from pain, child sexual abuse, childhood sexual abuse, coaching, healing, incest, incest recovery, incest survivor, incest survivor healing, Libbe HaLevy, life coach, molestation, Recovery, sexual abuse