A little over a month ago, I went to a family reunion. I thought, “let’s see how this goes. I’ll be fine.” And then my anxiety laughed and laughed.
One of my abusers (a brother) was there. One of the people who should have protected me (mom), but didn’t, was also there.
And then there was hugging. So. Much. Hugging. I hadn’t mentally prepared for being hugged without my consent by family members.
My anxiety amped way up. I didn’t enjoy the company of others like I had hoped. I kept my eyes alert on my children and counted down until we could leave. I offended a couple people (one avoided hug and a cold shoulder due to my fight/flight/freeze anxiety response).
In hindsight, I probably should not have gone. But on the other hand, it was good to see my response to help me self-evaluate where I am in my own healing. This then led to another huge step. I sent an email to my mom explaining what was wrong, why I don’t act all huggy and happy to see her or some others. Why I avoid hugging and am simply not okay due to triggers and anxiety. Why I am so protective of my children. I explained that I didn’t know when or if any close relationships with family was possible. It was an email that either warranted a response, or could also say “please don’t contact me.”
I didn’t receive a response, and I’m not sure I want one, actually.
My therapist was impressed and said this was huge for me. “A couple months ago, you never would have done this,” she said. She’s right. I think I’m feeling more bold and more willing to protect myself rather than putting others’ needs and feelings above my own–sacrificing my own well-being.
I’m becoming more whole, more healed, and stronger step by step. It’s been a really long process. I know I still have things I’m working through, but I can see progress. I’m taking steps that are stronger than ever, I’m speaking out more and more.
Healing doesn’t happen as fast as we’d like, but it does come. Acknowledge the progress you’re making.
This leads to a big announcement: I have a book coming out! Hope and Healing: A Survivor’s Faith-Based Perspective on Recovering From Sexual Abuse available September 1st. The ebook can be preordered now on Amazon, and paperbacks may be ordered beginning 9/1/2018.
Writing this book has been a huge part in my healing process. Writing, researching, and digging through my past and my feelings/emotions, has helped me sort so much out. I’ve spent 4 1/2 years on this project and I’m so happy to see it out in the world–a book I wish I’d had when I started my healing. I hope it helps many survivors and their support people.