by Patty Hite
It’s time to face the facts. We live in a microwave world. We want it done and we want it done now. If I can’t put it in the microwave, I don’t want it. Every once in a while I will take the time to stir and mix my ingredients, throw it in the oven and wait a few hours for it to cook. But everyday, something is put in the microwave, a button is pushed, a few seconds later, we are ready to eat.
I find myself expecting this quick fix in every thing I do—my dishwasher, my coffee pot, my convection oven. I have alarms on my phone to remind me to take my pills, a button in my fridge to speed up the ice maker, and finger nail polish that dries in seconds.
This day and age is amazing. Everything is at our fingertips and ready to use straight out of the box. The one thing that isn’t attached to our “microwave way of thinking” is healing from sexual abuse. Although it would be nice to push a button and be done with it, it’s not going to happen that way. I tried. It doesn’t work. Healing takes one step at time and sometimes it seems like it takes forever to get to that one step.
I’ve tried to shorten the path to healing because I am always trying to get from point A to point B, the quickest way I can. I’ve tried everything I can to find a way, any way, but it just doesn’t work. There came a time when I had to quit trying to find the quickest way and just settle down for the long haul. I hated being bothered with it and I got so angry at times that I could have chewed nails. It’s bad enough I was abused and now, I had to relive it in order to heal. It’s not fair, I didn’t deserve it and I hate it, hate it, hate it.
Once I got over the hissy fits, I settled down again to dig in, ready to tackle the next flashback and trigger, never knowing when I would be going about my everyday business and then out of the blue, my body would shake and my heart would pound faster. Suddenly, I was standing in an imaginary fog and in another place because the memories were too consuming for me to absorb at that time and place.
I started carrying paper and pen with me at all times, to write down the things I was feeling or the memories that flashed, because I knew I would forget them by the time I got home. I would dissociate from the memories of the memories. And when I read my notes and I remembered the flashbacks, I pondered on it for days because I didn’t want to face it again. Those days were spent in torment because of the fear of revisiting my past. I couldn’t sleep, eat or carry on a conversation with anyone. My body shook, my mind ran a mile a minute and I could feel myself slipping away, trying to find a safe place to hide.
After many years of this, I finally said, “to hell with it” and realized that the best thing I could do was face it and dig in till it’s over. Instead of living in the fear of triggers, flashbacks and nightmares, I welcomed them. I had to admit to myself that fearing the unknown was worse than the abuse I lived through. I used to live in fear everyday from the abuse, and now I was living in fear of remembering the abuse. Enough is enough!
Although they’re painful, they are really only memories. I had already lived through the abuse. Everything I revisited has already been seen, heard and touched. I lived through the fear, the physical scars and the emotional ones. They can’t hurt me anymore. No one is going to physically invade my memories or my dreams. They are gone; they are not in my home. I am not that little girl nor am I that ‘valueless’ woman. There is no need to fear my healing. I can welcome it.
Instead of fighting it and being afraid of triggers, I had to get to the root of those things that crossed my life path and start to walk down the right path. I used to be so sensitive about things I read—things that would cause triggers. I desensitized my world to make it comfortable and trigger-free. I hid from my past and wanted to postpone my healing. I wanted my healing to be pain-free and thought if I waited long enough, it wouldn’t hurt as bad. But, it doesn’t go away and healing does hurt.
But healing hurt is different than the actual abuse—this hurt has better results. This pain frees me and I come away from it stronger. Instead of feeling weaker and more useless, I feel empowered. I love myself a little more each time and fear is further behind me. I welcome triggers now. I actually get excited because I know the end results. I celebrate and sometimes I do the happy dance. I can’t wait to tell my husband and share with others. Instead of dreading it, I’m excited about it. I can watch movies, read books, and hear stories about abuse with compassion instead of fear.
I used to hide how long I have been in the process of healing because I didn’t want to discourage others. I wanted to bring hope and encourage Survivors to heal, not make them feel like they will be spending the rest of their lives learning who they really are and learning to loving themselves. But I think it is vital to our healing that we understand there is no quick fix. I look at it as an attitude education class at the “Abuse Healing School.” The more I study, the better grades I get and the quicker I graduate.
I may not be able to push a button and heal instantly, but instead of looking for my faults, I am looking at how far I have come. I can think clearly, make decisions and turn off my lights when I go to bed. I’m not afraid to go out in public and my dissociation is far and few between. I love who I am now, and actually enjoy cooking the old fashion way. If my microwave did break…I would be okay.
Preparing To Heal From Sexual Abuse
As a survivor of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, Patty Hite has been tenaciously pursuing her healing for over thirty years. She’s a passionate advocate for all survivors and dedicates her life to inspiring emotional wholeness in others. As a former victim of spousal abuse, she’s delighted to find true love with her husband of five years. She’s blessed with four children and six grandchildren.
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